A Day In The Life of a Rural Agent – Day Off? What Is That?

tropical-beach

Sometimes this ‘available-7-days-a-week’  pace catches up with me. Recently I found myself collapsed on the couch, spent, drained, and wondering how long this can go on. And there, staring at the ceiling, unable to resist gravity’s pull, I knew I can’t face the day. The thought of making one more phone call was almost enough to make me cry. And I don’t cry.

It is there, in that near-catatonic state, it hit me. It was a profound thought; a deeply insightful and life-altering thought. An epiphany really; I need a day off. I let the thought dance around freely, too tired to restrain it.

Maybe I could even have more than one day off…

Maybe even a regularly recurring day off! Oh, glorious thought!

But wait. It’s not like I can just find someone to take my shift. I operate under the umbrella of an agency, but I am an entrepreneur. The Tina Plett biz is owner operated, and she has no staff. Who does an entrepreneur call?

My head fills with plans to co-ordinate with other agents, and ways to serve my clients even on a day off… Gravity pulls again, making even this quiet space harried with urgent planning.

With closed eyes I take a mini-holiday, disappearing to some sandy beach and sip icy red from a glass, refreshed in the shade of a palm tree. The peaceful lapping of the waves soothes me until lunch. I’ll be back after lunch, refreshed and ready to take on the day. Hopefully returning to a head full of ideas on how to implement that wonderful dream, the day off.

 

Why Real Estate Agents Should Work For Free

imageIn the past, I have been asked –as a condition to a sale – to reduce my commission.

Think about that for a second.

In order to make the price more affordable for the buyer, I should forego my wages? I am constantly baffled by the widespread belief that a Real Estate agent should somehow work for free.

I wonder how that theory would pan out in a different industry. Let’s run that scenario, shall we?  

I sit down in a restaurant and order a meal from the menu.

I understand what is offered on the menu, and can ask questions and make adjustments. I can request off-menu specialties like ‘Does this come in a half-order?’ and ‘Do you have that in available in whole wheat?”

We discuss terms, reach an agreement, and I await my order.

After I’ve consumed every tasty morsel, the waitress brings my bill. The bill includes a mandatory 15% tax and 15% gratuity. I agree to pay the bill as long as the gratuity is waived.
She expected that fee as promised by her employer, but that’s not my problem. I view the gratuity as optional- an extra.  And why should she get paid extra? Her wages, I decide, are enough for her to live on without exorbitant ‘extras’. When I became an expert on her finances is none of her business. She owes me in a way. I could have gone to any restaurant in town, but I chose this one. She should be thanking me for being a customer at all. And I don’t need to explain that to her either, since it’s none of her business anyway. I want to pay less and that’s all that matters. She should really wipe that annoyed look off her face before I decide to take my business elsewhere…

If that logic makes you want to throw something, congratulations – you have common sense and are aware of the needs of those around you.
If that logic makes perfect sense to you, then I suggest becoming a waitress. Or a Real Estate Agent. Or a missionary. Or any number of professions where one is expected to work and then not get paid.

 

Thanks for reading.

Remember to tip your waitress! 

 

.

The Biggest Mistake People Make When Choosing An Agent

You’re ready to sell your property. You’ve done the math and know what price you hope for. The agent interviews are done and it’s time to sort through the options. Who to choose…

Wait! Before you sign, let me ask you a question. Did different agents give you different price suggestions? Probably. Because pricing a property is an art, so there will be variations. Can I let you in on a little secret?  The biggest mistake you can make is to hire an agent based on price. The most common reason is that agents can use a price estimate to “buy your listing”. Basically, an inflated price is used to attract a new client. (The price can be dropped later after all) It’s not nice or even ethical, but it happens. I don’t mean the highest price an agent gives is automatically inflated. It’s just one of those things to be aware of.

If price is your big qualifier when choosing an agent, you’re missing the forest for the shrub.It’s not just about price!

Remember…

The market determines price. Your agent estimates and advises. (Translation: Agents can’t promise you a price.)

Agents know they’re competing with other agents. Notice how, if agents know the prices others are giving, the price estimates will climb the more agents you talk to. Is the value of your home climbing, or their attempt to win your business with inflated numbers?

You’re not securing a price, you’re hiring a person – Who are they? What will they do and not do for you?

 

See past the promises, and choose a reputable agent who wants to serve you, not trick you.

“A seller who choose an agent based on which estimate is highest is the ultimate loser. Yet almost every seller operates in this manner.”

–Elizabeth Weintraub

“Agents who tell the truth often lose business to agents who tell lies”

– 1st Place Realty

 

.

 

Interviewing a Real Estate Agent? Questions To Ask And Avoid

1335-12439673009u9Z

Since 80% of clients interview multiple Real Estate Agents before choosing one, I know some must be wondering, ‘What should I ask?’  I’d love to help you with that.

As a REALTOR® I have a unique behind-the-scenes view that clients wish for. After all, how do you sift through interview answers to find the truth? I posted about that here, and highly recommend reading it before choosing an agent. As for what to ask during the interview, there are questions to ask and also questions that, while some say they are ‘must-asks’, I think they’re a waste of time.

What To Ask:

  1. What are the top 3 things that separate you from your competitors?
  2. What marketing do you plan for my property? (if you’re selling) Ask how many open houses they plan, where and when they plan to advertise, and how often. What kind of online marketing do they do?
  3. Do you have references? (ask if references are related and if you can call them with additional questions)
  4. How much do you charge? Commissions are negotiable, but starting off with negotiating is poor form for either of you. For more on commission negotiation, check out my post on it here.
  5. How available are you during the process? Some agents work with a team, and clients are sometimes surprised to find their calls fielded by the team members rather than the agent themselves. Knowing ahead of time will minimize confusion.
  6. How will you help me find other professionals needed for this process? The agent should have available a list of people to recommend for various services. Mortgage brokers, lawyers, or home staging for example. Also, the agent will hopefully be working with a professional photographer, and may have staff to assist with administration.
  7. What else do I need to know? Pay attention here, because there is always more you need to know. The agent should have something helpful to say at this point.

Questions That Don’t Matter

Article after article advises the following questions be asked. Some articles even advise it and in the same breath say, “Don’t put too much emphasis on it.”  Here are some of those highly-recommended questions whose answers really don’t matter.

  1. How long have you been in the business? Veterans can be highly skilled and connected. They can also be complacent or lazy. Newbies can be eager to serve and have time to dedicate to you. They can also have few resources to invest in marketing for you. This question reveals nothing of the agent, though it may reveal the assumptions of the one asking.
  2. What is your listing price to sales price ratio? Pricing properties is an art, and markets vary based on countless factors. To boil an agent’s value down to a single number is inaccurate and not useful. To quote the writer advising people to ask this exact question, “Sometimes market value has no bearing on the asking price and, in that that event, ratios are meaningless. Don’t put too much emphasis on ratios.”

Once you’ve interviewed the agents (hopefully you do this individually; all-at-once can create a less helpful cat-fight environment), it’s time to sift through their answers. My post on how to choose an agent helps you uncover who the agent really is behind their smile.

Happy hunting!

.

Does Your Agent REALLY Have YOUR Best Interests in Mind?

Ever wonder if your agent is really giving your sale their best effort?

Hopefully you’re one of the lucky ones with a dedicated agent who really is in your corner even if it costs them more than they’d hoped.

Too often an agent’s own motivations, which may or may not line up with yours, compromise their putting the client first. This can be reflected in the marketing time and dollars an agent invests, the time they put into hunting for a buyer for your property, or even in their advice. This video (an excerpt from a compelling documentary, “Freakonomics”) gives an example of how an agent’s motives and yours may not align.

The point is to be aware.

a)      Don’t blindly trust every agent. Not all are on your side.

b)      Don’t blindly distrust every agent. Not all are out to get you.

c)      Just be informed and choose wisely. Then work as a team to get it done.

How can you be informed and choose wisely? I’m glad you asked! I can’t wait to help with that. Check out some upcoming posts I have cooking:

–          How To Interview a Real Estate Agent

–          Insider Secrets about Agent Commissions (and how to negotiate a great deal)

–          Traits of an Awesome Agent

 

The Offer That Nearly Got Me SHOT!

9-nine-mm-pistol-and-ammoIt was November and, after the moneyless summer I’d had, I needed to make some sales. So when an offer came in for a country property, I was ecstatic. I knew my client would be excited too.

I called her immediately, leaving a message on her machine that I could come right away, offer in hand. I imagined her grinning as she got the news. Soon after, I received a voice mail from my client.
“Don’t come onto the driveway… I don’t want you to get shot.”

Um… what? I didn’t think the offer had been that bad. I racked my brain, going over and over our conversations.What reason could there be to shoot one’s agent? 

Clueless, I called the client to see if we could remedy the problem. I would have preferred to drive out and see her face to face but I did not want to get shot…

“What don’t you like about the offer?” I asked carefully.

“Oh, no – it’s not the offer.” She explained, stifling a chuckle, “It’s hunting season and my husband is out in the bush until dark. He might accidentally shoot you if you drive on. He’ll be done at 6:30 – can you come then?”

Of course! Hunting season in the sticks!

Crisis averted.

2 More Reasons Listings Expire, And What To Do About It

old house public domain photo

I’m excited to help you, my client, avoid having your listing expire. I’m also excited to reveal secrets to sale success that people don’t often know. The Real Estate agent does not have complete control over how your listing; it really is a team effort.  You have more control than you think.

Previously, I had shared 3 reasons that listings expire, and how you can avoid it. (Which ones surprised  you?) I’m excited to tell you two more ways you can avoid having your listing expire.

Condition

The condition of your property matters hugely. The example in the video found here (about expired listings) explains it well: if I would offer you a choice between a crisp, clean $100 bill, and a crumpled, wrinkly $100 bill, which would you take? You would likely choose the crisp one. The value is not increased, but it ‘sells faster’. There is a huge difference between living condition and showing condition, and that difference can make or break a sale.

What to do about it: Ask your agent for advice on how to best shine and buff your home to bring it to showing condition. It could mean floor or window replacements, paint, or simply decluttering and de-personalizing your space. Either way, this is happily something you the seller have complete control over.

Price

Did you know you control the price of your property? It’s true! The agent determines market value based on their thorough research and analysis and makes an educated recommendation, but price is ultimately up to you. (This is important to know, especially when you are shopping for an agent.) An agent can recommend a price drop, a market test, or to list above market value. It is wise to follow their recommendations, and critical to remember that agents are not bound to compromise their reputation by listing out-to-lunch prices. My intent is not to say you control your agent and can demand anything you wish. It’s not about control, it’s about team work. Most of the time people do as their agent tells them. I’m telling you that YOU have a horse in this race, and can decide what you will and will not do or agree to.

What to do about it: Your decision about price is going to be driven by your goals. What are your goals? Are you set on receiving a certain dollar amount, even if it means a sale takes a long time, or perhaps not selling at all? Do you need to sell asap? These goals will determine whether or not you choose to maintain or lower your price. Discuss these goals with your agent so you are both on the same page. Your agent wants to work with you to accomplish your goal. It also helps them to gear their marketing efforts more effectively if they know where you’re at.

 

Hmm… all this talk about price makes me think about one of the biggest mistakes people make when choosing an agent. I’ll have to post about that soon. In the meantime, may your agent work hard for you,  your property sell quickly!

 

Three Reasons Listings Expire And How To Avoid It

bar-graphDid you know that nearly a third of property listings expire?

That number increases in a slow market.

As a seller, there are things you can do to avoid having your listing expire. You may not be able to make a buyer deliver an offer any more than I can, but you have more control than you think. You have control! How’s that for a well-kept secret?

Three Reasons Listings Expire

Slow Market

A slow market can be the seasonal slump that December and January typically bring here in Manitoba. It can also be brought on by a recession, new banking rules, interest rates, or a change in the local economy. (The close of a major manufacturer for example). A slow market is just one of those things that is out of our control.

What to do about it: Relax. Be patient. Remember, it is normal for a home to take more time to sell in a slow market. (Hence the name)

 

Low Quality Photos

This one is pretty straight forward. Photos are the very first impression people will have of your property. They need to be stellar.

What to do about it: While this is, again, in the agent’s control, you can increase your odds of a sale by choosing an agent who is skilled in this way.

 

Poor Marketing.

When Real Estate Agents start to believe that every house will sell, their marketing efforts dwindle. Whether an agent’s poor marketing is brought on by complacency or misunderstanding, the fact is that you need an agent doing all they can to market your property effectively.

What to do about it: While this is in the control of the agent, you do have some control over this at the onset. Choose a REALTOR who is dedicated to marketing. Find a full service agent who skillfully (and ethically) invests their time and money to get you that sale.

 

I love that you, the seller, can help control the outcome of your listing. We really are a team, client and agent, working together to sell your property quickly and for the price you want.  There are two more secret controls you have that I haven’t mentioned yet. Did you know you can also control price?! Stay tuned…