What is the level of service I should expect from my agent? My house has been on the market for about 7 weeks.

Asked by Edith, Chicago, IL Sat Jul 26, 2008

What's the level of service I should expect from my broker re: open houses, mass mail? The first 2 weeks he had one broker open house and a general open house. Only one broker showed and about 5 people showed for the general open house. There were also three showings but no offers. We decided after 1 month to drop the price by $20k and have another open house. That attracted about 5 people. I am concerned that my broker is relying solely on the internet to get the word at on my house. He is has only been doing this for three years and I am his only listing. I picked him becuase he knows my neighborhood and I thought I would get better attention from him. I should also mention I have had to do 3 showings myself because he has had other obligations. I feel like he is just putting in minimal effort and is just trying to wait out the market. He sent out an email listing to about 150 people but I think that number is small. I feel I am not getting the level of service I would expect.

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Pacita Dimac…, Agent, Oakland, CA
Sat Aug 16, 2008
Before I became a realtor, I also wondered how much work is involved in helping a client buy or sell property. Little did I know!

Please, folks...we don't just provide transportation. I can only speak for myself, but this is a sampling of what I do for my clients:

For Sellers:
1. Before meeting the client, I prepare a comparative market analysis, put together a marketing presentation (not a cookie-cutter presentation -- I put a lot of thought, research and effort in this presentation which eventually became a template for my company)

2. Other agents will know that putting together a comparative market analysis is not just about looking at what sold, are active or pending. One has to determine other factors to qualify specific properties to be in the comps.

3. Upon listing the property, I put together a calendar of action items on what the seller and I should do to prepare the property for sale

4. Action items include:
- taking pictures ( a lot of pictures!) - selecting, editing, cropping, re-sizing, compressing
- photo-stitching, creating visual tours
- writing and designing flyers
- sending electronic flyers, or what other people will describe as email blast
- advertising in print (newspapers, postcards, flyers)
- scheduling inspections (home inspections, pest inspections, etc)
- holding brokers' tours (during which I serve refreshments to entice more agents to come see the property)
- holding open houses as needed
- showing property
- uploading the posting on the MLS
- on REALTOR.com, uploading as many as 25, customizing the descriptions and scrolling headline for the showcase. This is critically important since this serves as the primary source of information that other realty websites pick up. So by the time I activate a listing, it is complete with pictures and visual tour.
- Creating electronic flyers using Postlets, Vflyers
- Customizing uploads on Zillow, ActiveRain, Trulia
- Posting frequently on craigslist
- Uploading and creating website information about the property (this is posted on my website on Point2 which is networked with other Point2 members.
- Uploading the information on our company website
- Uploading dislosures online (Sureclose)
- Helping and guiding sellers on staging their house. If they don't have the right stuff, or don't have enough, I augment the staging by using my things. Or, I hire (and pay for) a professional stager to consult with the client. If staging is needed, I have contributed towards the expense.
- Providing resources for sellers, and letting in the service personnel in the house (e.g. wood floor refinishers, painters, plumbers, electricians, housecleaners, landscapers, inspectors)
- Putting together a Property Binder to include information about the property, copies of inspections, demographics, permit history, etc. that I provide at the house so that agents and prospective buyers can consult this information while the are at the property. Nothing like having info at your fingertips when you want it.
- Following up with agents and prospective buyers who saw the property -- I send notes, email, and make phone calls
- Updating my sellers frequently on the activity on their house. I do this by sending them copies of the reports on REALTOR.com on how many times it's been viewed. I include other reports that are available (how many times it's been viewed on Zillow, my website, et). I include a list of all the realtors who have shown the property, provide numbers of people who came to the open house, etc.
- Having continuous conversations with my Seller on the market, and if we should make some adjustments
- When an offer is received, I start negotiating at that moment --- my first question to the other agent is if the offer is the BEST and HIGHEST offer from the buyer. That may give them pause, and then they ask me to counter rather than reject the offer.
- If there is more than one offer, I prepare an Excel spreadsheet comparing the terms and the estimated seller proceeds
- Upon presenting the offer to the Seller, we go through an intensive discussion. Sometimes, we go back and forth, and may even have more than one counteroffer.
- I call the lenders for the buyers to get a more complete sense of the financial wherewithal of the prospective buyers
- When we go into contract, I remain the point of contact among all parties
- I pay for a transaction coordinator to make sure our paperwork is in order
- Throught it all, it's follow up, follow up, follow up!

These action items take hours, days, weeks. I don't get paid until I close escrow.

Remember, that I pay for all the advertising expenses. I've even contributed towards staging and landscaping and inspections if the sellers are financially strapped. If the property doesn't sell, I am not reimbursed for any of my out-of-pocket expenses.

To all: how much is your time worth? Can you afford not to get paid for service you provided?
3 votes
Lisa, Home Buyer, Pensylvania
Sun Aug 17, 2008
Pacita, I applaud your efforts and for detailing the value you bring to your clients - I congratulate you in finally answering the original question. But it also proves my point. There are many RE agents within my experience(s) and within this very email string that could not answer this basic and fundamental question that should be the staple to their service. An agent should have answered this question on their first visit without the client asking the question. As an agent, you represent the client's interests - end of story. How can you do that effectively if you do not understand the seller's needs to even answer this basic question (not you Pacita)? This leads sellers interpret, speculate and percive your service to be representative other than my interest but yours which equates to my commisions. Most should reevaluate their client's perception of ther service. Well, I am off my soapbox.

Pacita, I congratulate you and wish you the best of luck in your future. You are on the right course to success. Are you licensed in Pennsylvania? I would hire you in a minute.
2 votes
Lisa, Home Buyer, Pensylvania
Sat Aug 16, 2008
Most of these questions are being answered by real estate agents who are generally stating that the house sells on Exposure and price and that their involvement minimally affects the selling of their house. Then why do we need them? Especially when their commision is based off 4-6 percentage points off of the sale price. For most of us, this is in the tens of thousands. Let me say it again, tens on thousands. If I am paying anyone Tens of thousands of dallars to do anything for me, I would expect some level of hustle to sell my property. Let me put this into perspective, would you give someone your brand new car just for selling your house? And you had to show it? And you learned that really they had to do nothing but all you had to do was keep pace with the market? I think that most of these replies are cop-out! For most of us, besides the purchase of our house, the commisions are the second biggest check. Most are larger than your yearly taxes. And, lets face it, we get alot more from our taxes that we will ever get from an agent. All I am saying is that the perception from the seller's point of view is that most agents consume the second largest amount of money for very little involvement. Answers such as your house is a commodidty and the market will dictate the price is just not cutting it. In today's world, I see a house on the internet, I call to set an appointment , I liked it, payed it a visit and I bought it through the bank. The only thing provided by a real estate agent in this transaction was perhaps the transportation to the residence. Is that worth tens of thousands of dollars? Someone please, explain the value they add to the sale of a home for a buyers of sellers point of view aside from the mls cookie cutter ads and pictures.
2 votes
J R, , New York, NY
Sun Jul 27, 2008
Why are you paying this agent if you are doing the showings? If you think you can do the same job and have the same exposure he is giving you drop me a line and I'll show you how you can do it without ever paying a listing commission (Agents hate when I mention this so I expect to be blasted)
Nick, I'm not sure if you'll consider this a blast, but it is a news flash: what you are doing is INTERFERING with an agency relationship and it is unethical.
2 votes
NBW, Both Buyer And Seller, Los Angeles, CA
Sun Aug 17, 2008
If you don't like the service move on to another broker. Keep in mind that this market is tough on sellers, and you need to be patient. The only way to move a property fast is to lower the price.
1 vote
;, , Riverhead, NY
Sat Aug 16, 2008
Edith, you had "three showings myself because he had other obligations."
What level of service was represented at the time that you listed your house? Thank you- your answer is of interest.
Web Reference:  http://optionsrealty.com
1 vote
Kale Realty, Agent, Chicago, IL
Sun Jul 27, 2008
Hi Edith

Why are you paying this agent if you are doing the showings? If you think you can do the same job and have the same exposure he is giving you drop me a line and I'll show you how you can do it without ever paying a listing commission (Agents hate when I mention this so I expect to be blasted)
http://www.kalerealty.com in Chicago's South Loop
Web Reference:  http://www.kalerealty.com
1 vote
Otto Graff, , Dickel, TN
Sat Jul 26, 2008

No matter what you do the average time on the market for the NW Side is about 120 days, about 80% of homes are sold by people seeing online now. Mass mailings are a complete waste of time because people throw them out. The #1 way to sell is to make sure that you are at least at the same price as the last comp that sold.
1 vote
Thom Colby, Agent, Irvine, CA
Sun Aug 17, 2008

The most important and simple way to address your issues is to ask to meet with the agent and his / her Broker or Office Manager. Make sure you write down your thoughts and concerns before the meeting and go to it with an open mind. Brokers / Office Managers are there to ensure you are happy and get what you want which is to sell your home at a Market Value.

As for using any Agent - make sure they are a member of the local Realtor Association, the State Association and the National Association of Realtors. REALTORS are held to a very high Realtor Code of Ethics. Licensees who are not Realtors are not as is evident by some of the responses.

Cheers to you,

Thom Colby
Irvine, CA & Houston, TX
2008 Chair, Pacific West AOR MLS Committe
2008 Member SoCal MLS Board of Directors
2008 Member SoCal MLS Steering Committee
2009 Member-elect, Pacific West AOR Board of Directors
2009 Member-elect SoCal MLS Board of Directors
Web Reference:  http://www.thomcolby.com
0 votes
Pacita Dimac…, Agent, Oakland, CA
Sun Aug 17, 2008
Lisa and Edith,

This discussion thread reinforces the need for realtors to fully explain the selling process, the various steps beginning to end, and to always, always update the sellers on what's going on. Updates should incolude information on the current market activity and how it may affect the sale of the property.

Thanks for the opportuniy to comment --- this is definitely an important reminder on what we should always do for our clients.

And thanks for the compliment, Lisa.
0 votes
Martha Vidal, , Orange Park, FL
Mon Jul 28, 2008
Availability of the property to be shown
Price is king
If you and your agent cover this 4 aspects well you will be going to have some action going. Do you have a realistic time frame in mind to sell? 8 to 12 month to sell a property. I had been able to sell my listing on a 4 months average in this market. You and your agent are a team. Clean house, good lighting and fresh scent do wonders for the buyers. How atractive is your property?
0 votes
Otto Graff, , Dickel, TN
Mon Jul 28, 2008
I took a screen shot of Nicks answer and have filed a complaint against Nick. I am not shocked he is one of those hack flat fee Realtors.
0 votes
Vicky Chrisn…, , 20176
Sun Jul 27, 2008
Your concern relates to whether the marketing is being done well. From what I read, my concern is whether the agent is seasoned enough (and mean enough) to (a) determine a good sales price for you (b) tell you what that price is.

The worst service I ever gave a client was because I liked them SOOO much that I didnt push them enough on the price. The result? They hired another agent, dropped their price almost $100K and sold. If I had pushed them, I could have sold it 6 months earlier for $50K more. I'll never forget that.

The marketing I was doing was fine, and my problem was that I was "stuck" with them - I bought into their imagination; we beleived that their home was so darling that it would fetch a price equal to homes that had more valuable attributes. The worst thing a professional can do is get too emotionally involved. If your agent lives in your neighborhood - it could be too much personal attachment.

I just ratified a contract on a house on the same street as me. I am sick over it. It is $50K less than it would have been in January when I tried to get them to go on the market. It was painful for me each time I saw a price drop; and I had to just be honest - painfully honest - I had to tell them they were not acting fast enough, they were chasing the market, and loosing money doing it. They took my advise, we had 4 offers in 2 weeks and ratified one for full price and ideal terms.
0 votes
Kevin Shannon, , Boca Raton, FL
Sun Jul 27, 2008
First of all, I am not sure what the market is like in Chicago, compared to that of South Florida where I am located, but I suspect that you are encountering a depreciating market as we are here as well as many markets across the country. But as far as not feeling that you are getting the level of service that you expected is something that you should be discussing directly with your agent. And quite frankly this should have been discussed at the listing appointment. Over 80% of home buyers start their house search on line. Knowing that, the company that I am associated with goes to great lengths to be alligned with all of the top websites, including the one that is providing us this forum. What I am finding is that Broker's Opens and Public Open Houses are really not very effective in the current market. There are so many homes on the market and people are just not flocking to see the homes, like they were when the homes were "flying off the shelf". As a matter of fact, Open Houses provide more of an opportunity for the Realtor to obtain additional customers, in the event your particular home does not meet their needs. So to think that you are going to sell the home by holding an Open House, is probably not a realistic expectation. Having your home listed on your regional MLS and having extensive web presence for your property is key, and of course you have to be priced right. Real Estate is a commodity and the market will determine the worth of any home on any given day. Right now we are in a Buyer's market, again I am assuming that the Chicago area is as well, and the Buyer's have the advantage. If they do not perceive the list price of the home to be of value, they know that there are many other properties on that market that could be perceived as having value and they will quickly move on to the other properties.

I would suggest talking with your agent to see where your home is appearing on the web, to make sure you are getting maximum exposure. Also discuss your concerns about your expectations. You need to have a comfortable communication line throughout this process. And discuss your competition (other homes for sale in your area that are not selling either), and what they are listed at, and equally important what have the most recent sales been. Do not chase the market down, if you are going to reposition a property, make it a substantial drop to get people to notice it and to have it perceived as having value. In a depreciating market, you want to sell as quickly as you can for what your house is worth today, will not be the same amount in a month from now. COMMUNICATE WITH YOUR AGENT!!!!
0 votes
J R, , New York, NY
Sun Jul 27, 2008
It sounds as if the problem is something other than your agent. You have every agent in the MLS working for you to sell your house. I do a broker's open, mass mail, and public open right at the start. Agents cannot control how many people come to a public open house. I usually invite the neighbors, but I can't force people to come. From the traffic you describe it sounds as if you are either overpriced, poorly presented, facing a lot of competition. Possibly all three. It is unfortunate your agent had another obligation, personally I would have had a another agent in my office show the house, but one may not have been available. You think emailing 150 people is small? It's hit or miss, Edith. I sent out 200 post cards, but rarely get any calls on the house I'm promoting. Post cards go to the general area, and your buyer most likely is NOT going to come from the vicinity.

What kind of attention were you expecting? What would you like this agent to do differently, other than sell your house faster? Have you communicated what you expected him to do?
0 votes
Lisa Schade, Agent, Libertyville, IL
Sun Jul 27, 2008
Hi Edith-
The level of service that you should expect from your agent is the level of service that they communicated to you in writing at the time of the listing presentation.
It is actually unfair to ask another agent what your agent is doing incorrectly. As we may practice business differently. It doesn't make our way correct or theirs incorrect.
Their experience or lack there of, has nothing to do with their amount of time in the business, o rhow many listings they currently have.
And, as Pacita pointed out 86% of home buyers look on the internet to find what they like before ever contacting an agent. If you are concerned how your home is being marketed, I would ask your agent to show you, if they haven't already, where and how it's being marketed. If they can't tell you, then I'd be concerned.
But, honestly, it is a personal choice for you to accept to show your home, with the idea behind it to not lose a showing. If you feel uncomfortable about any of the service levels that you are, or aren't receiving you should communicate that with your agent.

However, even in this market, and even in the Chicago market, if a property is priced correctly, stands out as the best value, is staged correctly and has great curb appeal, the buyer's will be drawn in. Homes are being sold even in this market. And multiple offers do still happen.
Homes that have not been rejected by the market or Homes at the best value-when listed correctly for the market will be sold within the first month. If you feel that your home is priced appropriately, then I would suggest working on staging or curb appeal.
Hope that helps!

If you'd like to speak further, please feel free to contact me directly, or log onto my website.

Please feel free to contact me directly or log on to my website for more information
0 votes
Tom McCarey, Agent, Chicago, IL
Sun Jul 27, 2008

One thing your inexperienced agent is guilty of from what you have described is that he perhaps did not apprise you of the fact that market times are up - sometimes way up. It is also possible that because he is newer to the business that he is not cognizant of the changing landscape as it relates to the mortgage market. The degree of difficulty of well-qualified persons to easily attain funding is profound. Combined with the unease as relates to the general economic condition along with the heightened inventory of homes and the increased time for absorption of this inventory, you have a situation where your agent is pretty much doing what he is supposed to do but the market is simply not responding.

As far as his marketing, there are a variety of online conduits available. The question is how extensively and aggressively and intelligently he is using available technologies. If his postings are related solely to the mls, realtor.com, and the Tribune, you may have a point that he's not doing enough. In terms of direct mail, the reality is that direct mail/postcards are a vehicle for agent self-promotion and not the marketing and sale of your home. Industry stats indicate that repetition to the tune of 7 times is typically the norm to gain identification (which is not to say action). That his email base is limited shouldn't play a role if he is appropriately using available online means to reach consumers.

Several other respondents have pointed out that perhaps the price is the reason. Possible, but one of the things seen in this Chicago market is the fact that well-priced residences still are not garnering attention/affection/offers from consumers. Although I wonder if the new agent in his zeal to get your listing and his lack of experience/expertise succumbed to the pressure of pricing it the way you wanted rather than running and adhering to current comps in a very specific geographic and according to a three-month basis.

At the end of the day, though, you are the judge of whether you are receiving the service you expect. There may be a question as to how realistic your expectations are - however, if I hired somebody and I found myself doing their job (3 showings in 7 weeks with a neophyte agent) I would be pretty irritated.

Back to the point, though, of selling your home. At this juncture the market is speaking to you quite distinctly. If your intention is to sell your home it is up to you to listen to the market. The next question is whether you intend to have this agent serve as your steward.

Best of luck.

Tom McCarey
The Real Estate Lounge Chicago
0 votes
Pacita Dimac…, Agent, Oakland, CA
Sat Jul 26, 2008
86% of Buyers today use the internet to search for property. So if your agent is concentrating on the internet to market your property, that is the right focus.

But how does he promote it on the net? Does he post it on Craigslist? Trulia? ActiveRain? Does he showcase it on REALTOR.com with the maximum 25 pictures? Did he include a visual tour (many buyers and their agents will take one look at the main picture and decide instantly whether or not to take a look at the house).

And...depending on your area, some brokers don't bother going to broker's tours if the homes on tour are so far apart. They pick just the ones that meet their buyers' requirements. Open houses rarely result in having a buyer walk-in and buy the house.

How does your property compare with the competition? What is your market like? Is your price realistic and aggressive given the current market conditions?

Mass mailing is not only expensive, it will also not get the same kind of impact on potential buyers who use other means to find property.

I suggest you have a meeting with your agent and discuss your concerns. Have him give you an update on the current market and give you new comps. And have him review his marketing plan.

And...you may have already read this somewhere: the top 5 reasons why homes don't sell

1. Your Home Is Overpriced . Most real estate agents and buyers will see your listing within 30 days. If your home is overpriced and you have no intention of lowering your asking price, interest may wane and you may have already priced out buyers that may have qualified for a slightly lower price.

2. Your Home Doesn't Show Well. Since your home may be competing against new homes in new subdivisions for about the same amount of money, you may need a little makeover.

3. You're In An Area Less Desirable Than Others. Focus on the positives of your home but you may have to lower your asking prices or add some kind of incentive to the buyer.

4. You Are Battling Competition or Market Conditions. In a "cold" buyer's market, more homes are for sale so buyers can find more and sometimes better deals. There is more competition and you may choose to wait until a more favorable time to sell.

5. Marketing Your Home. Many top performing real estate agents do a multilevel marketing plan. Computers and the internet changed the real estate market. The National Association of Realtors says that more than 86% of all homebuyers use the internet for house hunting.
0 votes
Keith Sorem, Agent, Glendale, CA
Sat Jul 26, 2008
The fact is that the buyer that first sees your home sees it with a Realtor 90% of the time. So no showings does not mean Realtors are on vacation. it means that they are showing other homes that project more value.

Homes that sell in the first 30 days of market time sell closest to list price. That means the longer a property is on the market, the more value it loses. So most properties receive the most showings in the first two weeks of market time.

How many homes, since your home went on the market:
1. Came onto the market
2. Lowered their price.
3. Went into escrow
4. Sold

Your problem is not the level of service. Your problem is the lack of showings, which can only be cured by a price adjustment, probably 5% is in order. Good luck
0 votes
Dallas Texas, Agent, Dallas, TN
Sat Jul 26, 2008
1. Lending has changed which has narrowed the number of qualified buyers.
2. The more expensive of a home less showings based on todays market buyers are wanting scale back on expenses
3. Have you spoken to your agent about your concerns, and refreshing your listing new pictures, descriptions.
4. NOT KNOWING THE ENTIRE STORY: SOME BUYERS are implusive want to look at a home immediately ,,,, perhaps ... your agent trying their best work with a potential buyer requesting if you could show the home.
5. "...Agent trying to wait out a market.." agents are agressively working on behalf all parties,... media continues state interest rates could increase thus a reduction in buyers.
Web Reference:  http://www.lynn911.com
0 votes
Dino Patras, , Arlington Heights, IL
Sat Jul 26, 2008
From what you have described, it doesn't sound like your agent is the problem, in my opinion. Contrary to popular belief, it's not always the agent's fault when a home doesn't sell. Although having a competent agent is very important in this market, he/she is only one piece in the selling puzzle.
0 votes
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