I’m back in Chicago, where I grew up, visiting family for the week. Coincidentally, my sister and brother-in-law have decided to sell their duplex this week, so it has been an eye-opening experience seeing how their “experienced” Realtor works. While I realize there are regional differences and selling in Chicago is certainly not the same as selling Northern Virginia real estate, there are still many similarities in providing top notch real estate service to clients. The problem, however, is that mediocrity is “typical” and sellers (including my sister) don’t realize they should expect great service, without paying any more for it!
Here are a few things that have irked me so far with their agent:
1) Being passive with the tenant on making sure everything is cleaned up in the house before showing.
While the duplex did show well, there the basement was a complete mess with boxes everywhere and there were papers lying that just made the place look messy. When I told my sister to talk with her agent about asking if we could move some boxes in the basement to clean it up, she refused. It was only after pressing her again, did she ask the tenant and he said OK! To me, this kind of laziness is unacceptable. Perhaps he would have say no, but she didn’t even want to make the effort of asking.
2) Not being serious about deadlines and follow up with other agents.
My sister ended up getting an offer that had a deadline of noon on Monday, February 3. There were showings on the Sunday before (February 2nd) and my sister called her agent that night asking if she had any news from those agents that showed on Sunday. Her response was “Well it is Super Bowl Sunday so I didn’t want to call anyone.” Even when you have an offer in hand that expires on Monday?! Real estate is does not have a predictable schedule and you must be available (within reason) whenever there are deadlines and other time-sensitive activities.
3) Providing no guidance or strategy in negotiating offers.
Of course I talked strategy with my sister (as I do with all of my Northern Virginia real estate clients) on how to best negotiate the offer she had and what some of the other “non-monetary” considerations she could consider in her offer. Her agent only asked her “What is the lowest you’d be willing to accept?” and “Let me know what you want to do.” My clients hire me to give them strategic advice and I rarely ask what the lowest they would be willing to accept (I actually prefer not to know.). She should be paid on her experience and providing guidance to clients. This is the first house they are selling and don’t have the extensive knowledge an agent should have to guide them! However, even if my sister gave her the strategy to use, it is also about execution. If she doesn’t negotiate the right way or say the right things, your strategy could be useless. I find when I negotiate, I choose my words very carefully and specifically in order to convey this right meaning.
It has been really frustrating for me to watch on the sidelines without being able to help her. Many times, real estate agents get lumped into a “necessary evil” category and at times, especially after this experience, I have to agree. But when you get a really great agent that does everything in their power to get you the most money for your house, they are really worth every penny.
Are you planning on selling your home in Northern Virginia? Contact me today to see how I go above and beyond the typical real estate agent to get you the most money for your house!
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net