Just sayin'. I give the customer credit.

I’ve orphaned my blog for a week or so — again — as duty called. Duty, this week, was a real estate conference in Scottsdale. More correctly, the conference was in Fort McDowell. And if you are unfamiliar with the area as I was, Fort McDowell is better known as “The Place to Which the Cab Ride from the Airport Costs More than the Flight.”

Back in one piece, I am mobilizing to commence Operation Catch-Up. But, before I do, I thought I would pop in to share my helpful home selling tips of the day. This blog short was inspired by real events but, rest assured, the identities of the perpetrators have been protected.

  1. It is not OK for your agent to take his own photos of your home for mass distribution to the big, ol’ online world of would-be buyers unless your agent is related to Ansel Adams through blood or marriage. There are people who do this (take photographs) for a living, and they are generally very, very good at it. They have expensive cameras. Your agent’s time is better spent being very, very good at representing you in the transaction.
  2. With very few exceptions (you have the perfectly quaffed house, Martha Stewart gets her real estate license and agrees to be your fiduciary), it is not OK for your agent to “stage” your home themselves. You are hiring your agent to do their job so you can remain focused on doing yours. This approach to out-sourcing is equally valid for the real estate agent.
  3. It is not OK for your agent to suggest that your home is so perfect “just like it is” that it does not require staging – not, unless, you are living in 2005. Our market is different, and the best agents are aware that the rules have changed and the playbook is different.
  4. It is not OK for your agent to embellish an opinion of value. The data is science; pricing is art. Yet, one is intrinsically related to the other. As in all things, if it is too good to be true, it is.  And the corollary is that, while no one is perfect (opinions are just that, and we all miss on occasion), if you suspect that an agent has bought your business with false promises of rainbows and pots of gold on the bet that you will price reduce over time, on his watch, do not reward him with loyalty. You have choices.
  5. You deserve a relationship based on trust, ethics, and integrity. You deserve excellence. Settling for less is a choice, and the price far outweighs any savings you may realize when Bob at the office is offering you a smoking deal.
  6. Having the most open house signs on the corner on Sunday or the biggest postcards in the bulk mail system does not make for a better agent. It makes for a more visible agent. They could be the same, or not. Do your due diligence so that you can know the difference.
  7. It is not OK for an agent to not return phone calls or be otherwise unavailable and inattentive throughout the process. Not only might this be an indication of how they are communicating with other agents and your potential buyers, ours is a service industry. If we can’t at least get that part right, we have big problems.
  8. It is not OK for an agent to earn your business by talking smack about other agents. This is not healthy competition; it is poor form and a character flaw. Just sayin’.

My little stream of consciousness was inspired by a conversation we were having at last week’s Conference in the Middle of Nowhere about raising the bar in the industry. On a panel discussion, I remarked that it will be the consumer who changes the real estate industry for the better– that they will ultimately, finally, demand excellence, and only those agents who can ante up will survive.

As my comment was “retweeted,” a colleague expressed doubt. I hope he’s wrong. We have operated under the shroud of an offline world and a secret MLS for so long, the revelation among buyers and sellers that they have the power to insist on better will be a process. But I firmly believe that it will happen. I cling to the notion that our customers will recognize the differences and demand the best we have to offer. I am certain that natural selection is in the hands of the customer, not a bloated industry incapable of self-policing on our grand scale, and the customer will make the wisest choices.

Please prove me right. In a business where you control the hiring and firing process, the power is yours.

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