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Tuesday, March 24, 2009
What kind of value does 'Expertise' add? Can you measure it?
Categories:Arizona Market Trends,Arizona Real Estate,Arizona Real Estate Blog,Buyers,East Valley Homes,Legal Issues,Maricopa County,Mesa Real Estate,Real Estate Technology,REALTOR Ethics,Sellers,Tiffany Cloud
I have a confession to make. It is sometimes a struggle for me to put into words the value that being a local full-time REALTOR can add to a transaction.
I can describe the process I go through with a seller for marketing their home, the method in which I communicate with them and others, and my business practices. I can analyze statistics, market share, days on market, average sales price list to sales price from public data to make sure we are competitive. I quite enjoy educating my clients in the mechanisms, steps we go through once an offer has been made on a home, accepted and escrow is opened . The items above are easy to put in an outline and describe to my clients in a clearly quantitative way. You can measure these things and ‘see’ them quite clearly.
If the public has so much information available to them and discount brokers and limited service real estate companies will put your home on the MLS for you….why do you need a avail yourself of a local full-time real estate agent professional to sell your home or represent you as a buyer’s agent?
The answer is: “Expertise”, and expertise is not as easily defined, measured or visible to the non-practiced or unknowing eye.
Expertise in Timing
One of the families in my neighborhood had their home for sale with another agent for about 9 months. (I only sell about 1/4 of the homes in my neighborhood as I have made an active decision not to market to my neighbors in any way. I want to be a neighbor and friend; not the pushy salesman that happens to live in the neighborhood that my neighbors run from every time they see). This particular seller had decided to take their home off the market for awhile and do some re-modeling of the Kitchen and Master Bath (which they asked me to come over and consult with them and I happily did). While the home was off the market with their real estate agent,who happened to live in a different town, they had put a “For Sale By Owner” sign up on their home. In the middle of November 2008 I ran into the wife and asked her how the work was coming on the kitchen. While we were chatting she told me they were planning on taking their For Sale By Owner Sign down since the holidays were coming and ‘people don’t really buy’ and the market is ‘so slow’ during November and December. I immediately started shaking my head “No" as I explained to her that while that may be true for the market in general, in the Mesa Groves area that we lived in, we actually get a burst of activity during the holidays and sell quite a lot of homes. The timing for our area of Mesa was different then the market in general. That neighbor showed the home in December of 2008 to someone that purchased it.
Expertise in Local Research
Do you know what Zillow is reporting as their own reliability for valuing homes in Arizona, right now? Zillow reports only 23% accuracy within a 5% sales price for the Phoenix Metro Area (see chart below). That means that the other 67% of homes they have estimates sell for a sales price AT LEAST 5% different then what they estimate the home is worth. Only 65% sell within 20% of their estimate! A starting point? - possibly, but by no means an expert authority on what a home is worth.
Do you know what the average ‘list to sales price’ is for the home you are making an offer on is? What is the average Days on Market (DOM) for your neighborhood in the last 6 months? How does your subdivision compare with the area or city average? How many of the closed sales in your neighborhood, area of town, or city were foreclosed homes versus non bank-owned homes (or traditional sales)? Does any of that matter? Possibly, possibly not. However, to find what is pertinent, I often have done much more research then is visible to my clients. Any of the clients I have worked with will tell you that my primary weapon in negotiating besides a level head is knowing more than the other party. I will attempt to analyze your position from every possible angle in order to be prepared ahead of time with market knowledge.
Where do I get my information from? I use information from the MLS, the county assessor's office, research outlets that I subscribe to, other agents, as well as my own knowledge of the market from experience. I believe in the value in having your homework done when it comes to trends and facts. My clients benefit from this involved local research and can’t learn this expertise themselves on the internet.
Expertise on the Contract
2006 –2008 I spent 80 hours in ‘official’ continuing education classes. I spent many more hours in ‘non-credit’ continuing education. A majority of that education is contract specific information. Add to this that I have been using the contract full-time, that I consult with other agents using the contract and you might guess I am pretty-well versed on what the standard AAR contract is about. If you are represented by yourself or an Uncle that works full-time at another job and ‘dallies’ with real estate part-time on the weekends are you going to have any expertise available to you when it comes to the nuts and bolts of the contract? Will you fully understand what you are signing? Will you recognize if the other party is trying to pull a fast one on you? There is a lot of money involved here, are you willing to ‘hope’ you have it right?
Expertise in Negotiating with Relevant Parties
Some of my clients are amazingly skilled at negotiating. While I absolutely love negotiating and get a ‘rush’ from the banter and back and forth of it all, I in no way have a “corner on the market”, so to say. While my clients are not experts on the contract we use and limited by that knowledge, some do quite well with the larger ideas and ‘net proceeds’ aspects of a contract. However, there is a lot more to negotiating then just finalizing the contract. On a listing, I start negotiating with the buyer’s agent from the very first phone call. I know what makes my house unique from others in the neighborhood because I have done my research. Every conversation I have with an agent, I am always pushing my client’s agenda and making my client’s case. This is important because those agents make recommendations to their client in writing up the offer to purchase. Often times, I have negotiated more money for you before the deal has even come across my fax machine. Valuable? Absolutely! Can I measure this and communicate this to you in a quantitative way….not so much – but the value is there nonetheless.
What about negotiating to keep the deal alive? I know the specific questions and dialogue to have with the other agent, the lender, and escrow agents during a transaction to identify possible problems and negotiate through them before they become deal killers. Having a business practice of consistently checking in with all parties involved during the transaction allows me to monitor and negotiate as needed.
What about negotiating the repairs during the inspection period? Negotiating with banks on foreclosed homes and short sales (could be another several blog post all to themselves)? There is a lot of value on expert negotiating in a transaction that I bring my clients.
Expertise in remaining a Detached Consultant
A home purchase or sale of a home can be, and often times does provide emotional turmoil at some point during the transaction. Very rarely are there zero ‘snags’ or obstacles that need to be navigated through. Often times, these can be trying for the buyer or seller who have an emotional stake in the outcome. Most often I have dealt with the particular obstacle, or a variation thereof, and can keep a level perspective. I want to provide the facts and alternatives to you in an unbiased way to assist you in accomplishing your goal.
Expertise in having access to Other Experts
The most common question I get as an agent is, “How is the market?”. The second most common question I get is, “Do you know someone that I can call about …..(fill in the blank)?” Clients and former clients know that I have had experience with all sorts of tradesman from housecleaning, handyman, roof repair, home inspectors as well as trade specific experts like lenders, escrow companies, real estate attorneys, property managers, etc….
Not only do I know of all sorts of people I can pass along for your own independent evaluation, but what about people I consult with during the transaction on your behalf that you might not even be aware of? For example, my managing broker, Trudy Moore, is only a phone call away. She is the managing broker for the largest real estate broker in the Southwest United States and is privy to all sorts of information that a smaller or independent broker might not have access to. In addition, my broker has real estate attorneys on retainer and access to the AZ Department of Real Estate legal hotline.
I also have access to the research department at my local preferred title company that can often pull tax information, deed information, lien information, parcel history etc that is not easy stuff to get a hold of. Often times I will have them pull information for me in my research and you might not ever know about it.
One of my clients works for Southwest Gas and has helped me get meters turned on at the last minute for inspections that otherwise would have caused days of delay. I have several clients that are custom home builders that I have some times called to consult with on a specific issue. I don’t overuse my connections with people, but I tend to become friends with my clients and we often have a reciprocal on-going relationship that last years after the transaction has ended. Sometimes I am able add value to my service because of these relationships.
While I hope to knock your socks off with my marketing plan, tools and cutting-edge use of technology, and those things are easily measurable; it is much harder to define the ‘expertise value’ that I bring to a transaction. This blog post is already well past the “ideal length” and I must let you get on with your day; but I hope I gave you some things to consider. Please don’t hesitate to call or email with any questions, comments or concerns; and as always, thanks for reading.
This information is copyrighted by Tiffany Cloud 2009