Home Selling in Chicago>Question Details

Ruthless, Other/Just Looking in 60558

What are the advantages and disadvantages of an out of town listing agent?

Asked by Ruthless, 60558 Fri Dec 21, 2007

I'm talking a Chicago agent for an Oak Park home, or a La Grange agent for an Oak Park home. In other parts of the country, agents work more than a 5 mile radius. I know when we used an out of town agent in the past, she advertised our house in HER town because that is where she had an adverting contract (Suburban Life). Is it just a mistake to hire a non-Oak Park agent or can it work?

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Hi Ruth:

I am going out on a limb here. For me, if I have a current agent, and I am very happy with her service, I would not even consider using somebody else. However, the fact that you are going on Trulia and asking if you should use this agent to also list your OP home or ask Patti to list your OP home; it’s a very good indication that you displayed the desire to use Patti for OP home because you have read her answers, got to know her on Trulia and have confidence in her ability and what she will and can do for you!

I am not in Chicago and I don't know how far apart La Grange and OP is; so I did a quick search on the map

http://www.city-data.com/w8/bgm5785.gif

If I am looking at the map correctly, I see that La Grange is 13 miles out of Chicago while Oak Park is 8 miles out of Chicago. My assumption is that even though they are both burbs of Chicago, people who are looking for La Grange will not go to Oak Park just because there are identical houses in both places.

From the map, it looks to me that OP is the same distance from both Chicago and LG Perhaps by using a Chicago agent, you will be getting buyers from Chicago and OP as well as LG from the other agent.

This is to presume that the Chicago agent (Patti in this case) spends time to learn about the particulars (what I said below) of OP, is in the right MLS, will market in OP and do the Broke Open house (if there is any) and all the internet marketing as appropriate.

Although I personally think Patti is up to the challenge, but this is not my house. You know this as well as I do, Ruth, sit down and have a cup of coffee with Patti, ask her to give you her listing presentation / marketing plan and then find out for yourself if she can effectively be your listing agent. This is your choice to make.

Hope this helps.
Sylvia
2 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Dec 23, 2007
Sylvia Barry,…, Real Estate Pro in Marin County, CA
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Ruth - while I have heard that there are agents who "black ball" an agent or his/her listings, a significant majority will show a property because it meets the needs of their client(s). I am an independent contractor - I get paid when I successfully close a transaction. I continue to get paid because my past clients are kind enough to refer me business.

Unfortunately, real estate is not immune to unprofessional behavior.
2 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Dec 21, 2007
It can work... just as you are asking this question on the internet- as an agent you can effectively target any location through the web. You want someone who will give you good showing feedback, get your home exposed to the maximum number of potential buyers and negotiate a good deal. If you feel good about your agent's skills- I would not hesitate to suggest that you use them.
2 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Dec 21, 2007
I've been selling in Oak Park since 1991. I occassionally take listings out of the area but only for long term clients and I let them know that this is not my area of expertise. They already know that of course.

Rember, it's always the little things that could hamper you if you don't use a local expert, not just a local agent. An example...Hosting Broker Tours on the right days and at the right times. Believe me, most Oak Park agentsfeel like it is their God given right to have your listing. If an out of area agent hosts a Broker's Tour in south Oak Park in the afternoon time slot, the local agents won't drive ALL the way to south OP to preview it. Same if they host north of the tracks in the 9-11 slot. It's ridiculous, but it's true.

Most out of area agents do not grasp the differences in pricing based on location/school districts.
Homes on the east side of Euclid are in Irving and on the west side of Euclid are in Lincoln.
Same thing with homes on the 1200 north, 8 and 900 south and along Madison that don't sell for as much based on location. I don't know the ins and outs of Hinsdale or Burr Ridge etc., city agents and LaGrange area agents don't know Oak Park's inticacies. I realize most agents in the city cover wide geographic areas as do agents in the Western Suburbs. However, OP is different, no for sale signs, no directional signs for Sunday Opens etc.

If I were looking for good criteria for a listing agent, ask her/him to give you concrete data for the last four years showing their listings with initial list price, last list price, sale price, percentage of each and days on market for all of their listings.

In Oak Park, the Wed Journal also runs special advertising only for members of the Oak Park Area Association of Realtors offices.If you list with an out of town agent you will never be in the special section for the "Saturation Issues" which are delivered to every home, regardless of subscription, once a month.

Given all that, if your agent is a good, and I mean very good, top 5% of their board etc. then you will be alright. If they are a middle of the road agent, one that is not feeding their family with their production..., then I would be hesitant. Single family units were down 6.5% in 2007, days on market was 25% longer and prices only went up by 2.4% Make sure you give yourself your best shot at being successful.

Good Luck!
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Jan 3, 2008
Sometimes I feel as though the TU, TD is not so much a grade on the answer, but more of a referendum on the agent or the attitude represented in the answer. (and, no, I'm not talking about you Ruth).

I have seen several instances where the agent has answered the question directly... but was not as charming or as cute, and not only did they not receive a TU, but they have several TD's. (and, no, now I'm not talking about ME).

I didn't realize that both of the properties you were talking about belong to you... and that you only need to sell one, so you're right... no conflict.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Dec 24, 2007
Alan May, Real Estate Pro in Evanston, IL
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Hi Ruth,

A listing agent brings the following to the table:

1) Knowledge of the real estate process. This can vary by areas within a state, but despite subtle differences, a competent Realtor in one suburb will probably have a very good handle on this. Competency transcends the geography here. Most referral pros that the Realtor works with will travel reasonable distances. i.e. inspectors, for example. (I understand you are selling and the buyer agent will be helping the buyer with inspectors....just an example.)

2) Marketing know how. Much of the most effective marketing is via the web, on such sites as this, among a count of several others. In certain markets, a local edition paper might still be effective. Effective photo shoots, copy descriptions, and placement on websites will be accomplished best by the agent who possess stronger skills, with geography being secondary.

3) Presentation and negotiation skills. A skill set not limited to trade or geography. Some newer Realtors are stronger than veterans as a result of prior training and developed skills.

4) Willingness to work hard. Is the out of area agent willing to work hard for you? There might be a few extra steps required of the out of area agent here. This is a matter for the two of you to explore. There is not a right or wrong, here. Who will ck the sign to make sure it isn’t blown over? Who will replace brochures at the property as needed? Who will check on a vacant house after a showing to make sure all lights were turned off and doors locked? A dedicated Realtor answers calls and emails quickly regardless of location. The listing agent may need to invest a few hours in studying the local area to ensure they are able to answer phone or email inquiries promptly with correct info. i.e. How far is the bus stop? Train station? Do the kids walk to school or take a bus? In my opinion, a sharp and dedicated pro can learn this data fairly quickly........if they believe that the listing makes a win-win for them and the seller.

It is hard to teach presentation and negotiation skills. It takes experience and mileage to gain a comprehensive understanding of real estate; along with a nack for the biz. I would hedge my bets on the individual who has developed the strengths that take time, energy and innate abilities. Those shining stars are few and worth their weight in gold. (And if they are tiny, maybe 2x their weight in gold!) If that person is a few miles down the road, but willing to do beef up on local data, go with that person. .

It might take a team effort on a few of the things a Realtor might regularly do for a listing that was within a stone’s throw, like checking the lights and locks.

Best of luck.

Deborah
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sun Dec 23, 2007
Deborah Madey, Real Estate Pro in Red Bank, NJ
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The local migration from city to suburb is irrelevant, in my opinion. It's not likely that the city agent will be bringing her own buyers to the table, so it will still be Oak Park buyers, and therefore not an important criteria.

the Western agent with both identical homes listed... again, not sure the two homes make any difference. Yes, two homes to showcase, but potential mini-conflict, too... so pretty much a wash, in my opinion.

I'd choose the agent that I had the most confidence in and best rapport. Assuming all else is equal, I leave the choice up to you. (sorry, the ball is back in your court!) Neither of the criteria you mentioned carry any weight with me.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sat Dec 22, 2007
Alan May, Real Estate Pro in Evanston, IL
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It's not as important, in my opinion, where the agent is "headquartered" so much as that agent knows the community she's listing in. (wow, that was a bad sentence!) She should know the area, some of the agents and agencies, neighborhoods, the good streets, the "hot" streets, the up and coming projects. If you're hiring a city of Chicago agent, but she knows Oak Park well, and can manage to market effectively there, then I don't see a problem. (I would NOT be happy with a Skokie agent who only advertised in the Skokie papers, and not in Oak Park publications)

I, too, have "heard" of blackballing out-of-town agents, but have not truly experienced it. I find that buyer's agents will show properties that suit their clients specifications, regardless of the listings agent/agency or even FSBO.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sat Dec 22, 2007
Alan May, Real Estate Pro in Evanston, IL
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Hi Ruth - I agree with Patti. I think the decision needs to be made based on your comfort level with the agent and your belief that they can get the job done. You want your agent of choice to sell your home - insure that it is getting the best exposure to the greatest pool of brokers and buyers possible. Merely working with a local agent does not guarantee the greatest exposure to the buyer community at large.

Today's real estate market is constantly changing. When 80% of potential buyers are using the internet to find their home, sometimes the VIRTUAL location of the selling agent is more important that then PHYSICAL location.

I hope that helps! Tom
Web Reference: http://www.thomasjhall.com
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Dec 21, 2007
I am a City of Chicago agent and my last 4 closings were NOT in Chicago -- they were in Evanston, Skokie and 2 in a row in Schaumburg.

In fact, I was working with one client who, in a panic, ditched me because she felt it would be "wiser" to use a local agent. She came back one month later because she said she felt more comfortable with me and felt my "services were better".

Some may believe that using a local agent is best because of the local connections they may have, but today's connections are no longer just made locally. Thanks to technology, they are made easily nationally and even internationally. Look at us, for example!

That's not to say there isn't any merit in using a local agent. I just don't believe that the choice of an agent should be based solely on location of an office or residence. In my opinion, what's more important is their marketing plan, their style, and how comfortable you feel with that person and your relationship. A good agent will take care of the rest.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Dec 21, 2007
Patti Pereyra, Real Estate Pro in Chicago, IL
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Ruthless

Most of the most experienced and successful agents effectively work in multiple towns and even multiple counties.

It is important to choose an agent who markets their properties hard (personally advertises their properties consistently and effectively), who is knowledgeable, and who is experienced.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Dec 21, 2007
OH MY GOSH!!! LOOK EVERYONE - AN OAK PARK AGENT RESPONDED!!!

TOM:
Thank you very much for your response!!! Deborah, Sylvia, Mansur and Patti could all tell you I'm more than a little bitter. They've been hearing me complain for 6 months now. Now that someone from Oak Park has ventured beyond their little world, I need to get busy and delete all of my nasty comments. Top Voices will also tell you that I have a sense of humor about the whole thing too.

My "ventured beyond" Oak Park comment comes from a surreal agent that worked one of my open houses. I put an ad on Craigslist saying "Children and Dogs Need a Yard, Move to Oak Park." When I first stopped by the open house the agent was all doom and gloom overpriced. When I went back at the end to lock up her comment was,

"There were all these people from the city?! Where did they come from and how did they know about the open house?! I couldn't believe it, they all said the house is such a bargain!!!"

Which it is.

The agents I fired were comping the house with homes half the sq ft, half the lot, not fixed up and only 1.1 baths. I really like Pat McGowan but don't feel comfortable giving her the listing because she has the buyers whose contract fell through.

I've got a showing Sunday at noon, stop by if you have a chance. Current comps are in the reference.
Thanks,
Ruth
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jan 3, 2008
Ruthless, Other/Just Looking in 60558
MVP'08
Do you ever feel like your being graded, instead of thanked or agreed with on the TU, TDs and Best Answers? I know I am unlike anyone else here on Trulia (has anyone asked more QUESTIONS than I have?) since many of my questions are hypothetical or philosophical. Yet, when I ask real life questions for my situation, if I don't get something new that I haven't thought of before, I feel as though I am grading you. Sorry, I don't mean to do that.

Most recent posts feedback this time.

Deborah, I have been anxiously awaiting your input on this one, it's about time. I even posted to this question once or twice just because I knew you were on Trulia.
"Who will ck the sign to make sure it isn’t blown over?" What? Did you see our weather report before posting this? I was nearly killed when I walked my dogs tonight and the "I look beautiful inside" add-on portion of a For Sale sign went whizzing past my heard. Auntie Em, Auntie Em. Excellent input as usual. Gold Star.

Sylvia: Thank you for going out on a limb. It's interesting, after I got off the phone with my long time local agent, I realized that "mentally" Patti and I know each other better than Cathy B and I. My only concern is that I have ruffled Oak Park agent feathers because I am Ruthless and I like Patti P because we both speak our minds.

Elvis: I really needed to hear that neither criteria carried any weight. As for conflict of interest, since I really only need to sell one of the two homes, there is no conflict with Cathy B. However, my HUGE conflict of interest is that I would love to hire Pat McGowan but she represents my buyers that haven't sold their property yet. I'll email privately regarding "blackballing".

Sylvia again: As you found out, it is just a stones throw either way. Everyone knows Oak Park, which is why I think the locals are so protective. It's just too easy to sell because it has so many advantages. Same thing when I was selling beachfront property in NC. Who wouldn't want to buy on the Atlantic Ocean for as little as $83,000 in 1995? The reason I was successful and the locals weren't, is because they couldn't do math. (OK, I really wasn't successful – talk about blackballing - and I had far greater skills than just math, but they really could not do math.)

Everyone: Very VALUABLE input. I appreciate it very much.

I keep going between Elvis and Sylvia for Best Answer. I had to let the TUs decide (which was 2 to 1 when I chose).

Thanks,
Ruth
Web Reference: http://www.Oak-Park-IL.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Dec 23, 2007
Ruthless, Other/Just Looking in 60558
MVP'08
Once again, which agent would you choose?

The downtown agent with the logical migration from city to suburb?

Or the Western agent with both almost identical homes listed? If you don't like this one, how about this one?

Ruth
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Dec 22, 2007
Ruthless, Other/Just Looking in 60558
MVP'08
The only thing i want to caution is that the agent has to be comfortable with the local real estate law, customary practice, market condition and inventory. I do agree that with the Internet, it's much easier to earn about the market, but being local does allow the agent to know about the homes and community more intimately. However, I am sure that with a hardworking, intelligent, experienced and ethical agent, those things can be conquered; An agent who truly watches her client's interest will make sure she does her homework when she is entrusted with such a responsibility.

Find the one you can trust and local enough to know the area, I think it'd work.

Call me when you decide to buy in Marin - we will have a great time! (O.K. Just kidding, you all!)

Sylvia
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Dec 21, 2007
Sylvia Barry,…, Real Estate Pro in Marin County, CA
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Ruth - While I currently live in the city, I bought a home and flipped it in Hinsdale - after selling it, I moved to Oak Park - now I'm in the city - and actually contemplating a move out to Naperville, go figure?
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Dec 21, 2007
And also, choosing between downtown verses Western Suburbs? I think the migration of downtown to West is normal but not the other direction. However, if I have a Western Springs home for sale for $800k and an Oak Park home for sale at $800k by the same agent and I only need to sell one of the two homes (and reluctantly willing to sell both), would it be more advantageous to have the same Western Springs agent or to have a Western Springs agent and a Downtown agent?

I want to HEAR Patti's input but it really doesn't count because I am choosing between her and my WS agent. So although I have enjoyed getting to know Thomas, Staci, Elvis and others better, I've really gotten to know Patti online and via emails. We still haven't gotten together of drinks yet though.

And Mansur, if both sell, I'll be talking to you because my bread and butter income in the DC area. Oh, how I miss that income!!!

Lorie, my flat rate agency offers the marketing you are talking about. And as a consumer, Trulia "Find Homes" bites, or at least did. It was so bad, I don't even read the email alerts from them or give them a fifth chance. Trulia Voices is the best thing to ever happen in real estate for the consumer.

And Thomas, I checked out your website. Rubloff and Western Suburbs? What and why the Western Suburbs?

Ruth
Web Reference: http://www.oak-park-il.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Dec 21, 2007
Ruthless, Other/Just Looking in 60558
MVP'08
I agree with the others that it depends on the agent. I am from the suburbs of Atlanta. I recently moved from Alpharetta to a Lake Community. I primarily list homes within four counties... those being Gwinnett, (North) Fulton, Forsyth, and (South) Hall. These are the areas I target; however, I have listed homes in Cobb County, Dekalb County, Henry, and Paulding County by referral. Henry and Paulding are a good hour to an hour and a half from my home. I advertise my properties where they need to be advertised not where I have a contract... you can add new contracts and not all advertising requires contracts. Realtor.com is the largest national real estate website in the world. Its hits far out way any other real estate website. Realtor.com places listings in the proper area regardless of where the agent is located within the state. Trulia is also a very popular website and will probably give realtor.com a run for its money one day soon. There is Zillow.com another popular website. Housefront.com is another. Plus there are local avenues for advertising. Local newspapers and real estate magazines will advertise without a contract.

My opinion, a great agent is going to be a great agent no matter the distance. I have actually helped my Father via phone buy property in Florida. An agent that delivers bad service is going to deliver bad service regardless of where the property is located. I have been in communities where the listing agent lives in the community but the flyer box is empty or they do not return their phone calls.

If you like the agent and the agent is willing to list the property then I would not worry about the agents mileage or gas bill... that is for the agent to worry about. The agent does need to be a member of the MLS for your area if it is a different MLS from the agents hometown.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Dec 21, 2007
You did notice I listed this question under Chicago instead of Oak Park? I also asked the question of out of town buyers how they search.

So what if the local agents dislike outside agents as much as flat rate brokers?

Ruth
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Dec 21, 2007
Ruthless, Other/Just Looking in 60558
MVP'08
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