I know that some agents will bring up all of the time spent showing buyers homes....but I put a limit to that. If I have assessed my clients needs properly, they should easily find a home with me in 1 or 2 outings. If not, they are no ready to buy or I am not a good fit with that client. I thank them, refer them to another agent if I can, and move on.
I have had transactions with buyers agents who threw the deal up against the wall and hope it stuck, many of them new agents with no clue what their role in the transaction was and I again ran my legs off doing their job to get the deal closed.
Then... all of a sudden you have a deal with a pro and it's a pleasure to have someone carrying their weight in the transaction.
So it is not who works harder but who works smarter.
Even though I can say it's not easy to be a listing agent now a days, especially since we have been so spoiled in that respect before, but it is also not easy to be a buyers agent - a lot of buyers are looking and waiting or want a 'great' deal; also, how do you like to be the buyers agent whose clients' loan fell through at the last minute due to no fault of the client?
Like everything in real estate, there is no easy answer to anything. That's why real estate is interesting to me. Ultimately, just like Jennifer, I work very hard for all my clients because I want happy clients; sellers or buyers.
If you have the buyer, you look at more houses, you have to negotiate harder, it is more stressful because buyers want to make low offers (so you have to make more offers) or they need to learn the hard way to make a decent offer.
If you have the seller in a buyer's market, you have to do way more advertising, (website, adwords, newspaper, re mags, open houses, brokers open) more money spent, more thorough feedback, more time on phone, yada yada yada. Then buyers want a bargain.
Now, if you have buyers in a sellers market, I think you work harder because you have to be on top of the market every minute so that you don't lose a house for your buyer. You can wind up putting in many offers on numerous properties as bidding wars frustrate and aggrivate both buyers and their agents. And, being a listing agent in a buyers market is pretty much torture! You spend a lot of money on advertising and have to fight with most sellers to get reductions.
Both sides require significant effort and excellent communication and negotiation skills. Unfortunately these skills are not taught or tested for prior to becoming a realtor and it's easy to spot the agents that are lacking. Ruth is right that a discount brokerage can be successful or even better than many mediocre agents. A discount brokerage has no chance against a highly skilled professional. The reason this is all up for debate is that it's too easy to get a realtors license and it's now up to the customer to determine who is worth the commission and who isn't. A task most customers are qualified for.
It's interesting how all these threads relate and how they lead to other conversations. It's wonderful to see agents unite on issues and other times debate. It's curious to see differing responses based on regional facts verses personal opinions. But best of all is being enlightened when you are wrong.
I was called devilish for asking this question. I admitted I was stirring the pot. I questioned myself if I had an ulterior motive. And I was enlightened for being wrong. I was wrong in the fact that I wasn't stirring the pot and that the agents united on their responses. The little white angel Ruth sitting on my right shoulder will tell you my ulterior motive was to unite the agents after reading the thread on commission splits. My mind works in a curious way in that I know I am getting at something but I don't know what it is yet. It could be to help you clarify to clients why you earn your commission or it could be to widen your perspective of the other side of your own case. Just as clients might only focus on the price aspect of a contract, do you have tunnel vision when you are acting in the different roles of buyer vs listing agent? (Rhetorical question to ask yourself.)
The little red devil Ruth sitting on my left shoulder apparently had a different ulterior motive in asking this question. First, I must give some background. When I bought the house in Oak Park, I used BuySide Realty (a commission rebate company similar to RedFin). I had a signed Buyer's Agent contract with my favorite trusted agent in the La Grange area. She knew we were looking all over the Chicagoland area and our agreement both written and understood was for the local area. When a local offer was rejected, we moved on to our second choice an Oak Park home. BuySide Realty not only asked if I had worked with any agents, but they required that I fax my agreement and that my agent verify that she was not the procuring cause for the property. They then required my bank's pre-approval letter and contacted the loan officer for verification. Once all the "i"s were dotted and the "t"s crossed, BuySide contacted the listing agent to let us see the home. We were quite shocked to be greeted by the homeowner and not the listing agent who was from Naperville (twice as far as La Grange from Oak Park). We used the homeowner to gather information that we would not have discovered if the agent had been there.
In the interest of trying to keep this from being a lengthy case study, let me cut to the chase. BuySide Realty DID all the HARD WORK that agents protest about in posts such as the guy who asked for a kickback or the many "should I have a buyers agent?" questions. The listing agent on the other hand made the seller or the seller's attorney do all the work. Since we had never met or spoken with the listing agent, we just assumed that he was a "discounter" or "flat fee listing" (even though he's with a top National full-service franchise office) and that this was the arrangement he had with the seller. Imagine our shock when the HUD statement showed he was collecting MORE than the NORM for FULL service and the co-broke was for the norm. I don't know if it was out of curiosity or suspicion but looked up his license. He had previously had a disciplinary action against him. When the rehab was complete, the former owners of twenty years came to an Open House. I politely asked why they used an out of town agent. She said she interviewed several local agents and didn't have a good feel about them. A friend recommended this Naperville agent to them.
The MORAL of the story:
Don't assume a discount service doesn't pull their own weight in their responsibilities and don't assume an agent is going to do everything that is implied by paying a "full service" commission.
Thank you for reading,
As your own listing agent, I think you should be able to chime in here. How many hours have you worked, not including on Trulia ;-) As compared to the time you took to choose your home? That includes creating your websites, researching comparable sales, and additional marketing. How many times have you shown your home? And did any offers fall through...
I honestly don't care about the workload - I just want happy clients when all is said and done.
I have sold 70 to 80% of my listings in the past fifteen years. Only about 60 -70% of buyer prospects eventually bought something. Because a higher percentage of lisitngs turned to commissions and (this is super important - new buyer leads came in off those listings) . I would prefer a salable listing to a qualified buyer even in this market. ER, Um, no - I want them both!
As far as the hardness not just the number of hours, Its nearly a toss - up there too. I'd still prefer lisitngs even if there was no difference in the resulting economic value to myself.
Thank you for chiming in. "The majority of work in this business is finding the customers, not servicing them." That is way you have to provide exceptional customer service because then the customers will come to you through referrals.
Everyone has made very good points.