Profile picture for m.robert

I've yet to experience a Realtor who justifies their fee, how do you find one that will really WORK?

In the 8 transactions we have experienced, my wife and I have been continuously disappointed in what we get in terms of value for the fees the Realtors have received.  We're embarking on another transaction and vow not to let this happen again which leaves us with three options as we see them:

1) not use a Realtor and go it alone with an attorney to handle the paperwork
2) maintain our low expectations and find a Realtor willing to work for a much lower commission
3) and what seems to be the most difficult - actually find a Realtor willing to put in the work which justifies a mid 5-figure commission.

Any advice on either of these options would be greatly appreciated.  I should also note that we are not high maintenance when it comes to what we expect in terms of services, we do, however, expect an exhaustive approach to working through our options (properties, negotiations, marketing, contract, etc.) and the services advertised.

Thanks all!
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March 28 2011 - Staten Island
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Answers (171)

In addition to referrals from friends, write out the 3 character traits and performance objectives of what is most important to you in an agent. You've completed 8 transactions, so obviously all of these agents performed and you succeeded at selling and/or buying the home you wanted. You just don't feel they justified the fees. Try looking at what didn't happen - I assume you didn't get sued or ever lose a deposit, is that correct?

If you are looking for a huge amount of data studies before acting, spell that out. If you want to be called daily, whether new homes have come on or not, spell that out too. If you expect an agent to drive 100 miles to preview all of the homes for you before you can bother seeing them, be sure to write it down. Make your expectations part of the agreement.

I can tell you, using the word "exhaustive" makes me wonder if your expectations are perhaps more demanding than you realize. 
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June 06 2011
I like the idea of "risk-free trials" for everything, including hiring a Realtor. In the future, see if you can find some that would be willing to work on a contingent basis for 2-4 weeks, knowing up front that you're going to move on to someone else if they don't meet your expectations. 

I've mapped out tasks and labor hours for standard listing and buying transactions, and the hours add up fast. Depending on the deal type and time to close (up to a year in some cases), it can take 100-400 labor hours, material expenses up front, all with the risk of a deal not closing. Because of the high costs (labor & material), and risk of not getting paid in the end, agents should be extremely careful in who to take on as a client.
 
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June 06 2011
Try talking to friends and relatives who have sold or bough homes through a realtor. Referrals are the best way to go. Don't forget you are interview the Realtor not them interviewing you.  You can try giving multiple agents within a week and see who will work for you hardest.

However, it's a little bit different here in Las Vegas. The seller usually splits the commission with the buyer agent. Buyers in this market usually only pay a small amount of fee. Search different realty agencies too!
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June 05 2011
Profile picture for sunnyview
I think that the thing you need to do is choose a better agent and spell out exactly what you expect from them professionally in a contract. If you expect a return phone call or email in one business day put it in the contract. If you expect all new listings to be reviewed and sent form the MLS daily, put it in the contract. 

Trust is great, but overrated for business. If you have a good agent, they will already be doing all of the things in the contract naturally. If you have a bad agent and they breach the contract, their commission will never get paid out of escrow.

Agents are people. Generally, I give an agent a little time up front to see if they are really listening to what I'm looking for as a buyer. I do not sign a buyers agreement until I am ready to make an offer and I red line any provisions in the contract that are unreasonable. I am sorry that your luck with agents has been bad. Like many I have had bad agents too, but I have been smart enough to dump them before ever writing up a deal. There are good ones out there so keep looking until your find one. It's worth it.
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June 05 2011
m. robert,

There are as many types of Realtors as there are people.  I am sorry you have had such bad luck in the past.  Try something new next time, I mean totally new, change your tactics.  I would guess that each time you may have had the same process in choosing or the same parameters.  Well, do the opposite.  It statistically has the best chance of outcomes.  I do this with my brokerage, offer alternatives to the ordinary.  I let the clients choose the commission and how things work.  When ordinary does not produce results, change the rules!  Good luck!

Capt. Shawn
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June 05 2011
Yikes, an attorney....really? Mine charges 350.00 an hour! Maybe you need a referral to an excellent experienced agent?
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June 04 2011
Unfortunately what you have experienced is sadly true oin our profession. A good agent will do alll the heavy lifting for you and leave you to the decision making. In todays internet savy market place there is still a place for a broker who will put in the time. To often we just wnat the check. A good agent lays out expectations and does their best to meet those expectations of the buyer. Keep looking. he or she is out there.
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May 25 2011
Profile picture for Dunes....
Or we could stick to Following the Forum Rules Carole...


Good Neighbor Policy...
"Spam, advertising, or self-promotional content is not allowed in Zillow Advice. This includes, but is not limited to, any contact information such as phone numbers, email addresses, or website URLs"
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May 25 2011
Seems the answers to this have really gotten off track.  Lets stick to answering the question.
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May 25 2011
A couple of questions answered before I answer, first great question.

What do you consider work, what are you looking for in the real estate agent, and please don't say service and / or marketing, go into detail.

Do you expect the real estate agent you use to be able to sell your home, meaning can they be a dual agent meaning that they find the buyer for your home or do you only want your agent to be the listing agent.

Please answer these questions and I will go into deatil for you.

Thanks for asking a great question!

Mike Parker - CRS
HUFF Realty
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May 24 2011
Profile picture for Pasadenan
"I am a National Relocation Coordinator for Century 21 and can also research for you....FREE!" -

Oh, you can?  Does that mean you "will"????

That means I should give you 5000 hours of work and never allow you to get a commission off of it?

I frankly don't believe you, and think that you will "quit" before even doing 40 hours of "research".

(By the way, I already posted what I'm looking for multiple times and already posted that the agent that finds it can have the commission, so "get to work"!!!)  (If you can't find what I posted, then you obviously don't know how to do "research").
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May 19 2011
mrfnuts,  I would like to explain my personal views on the negotiation aspect of the REA's job:

I am highly skeptical of any REA's claim that their negotiation skills have led to their seller's house being sold for significantly more than its worth or conversely, their skills have directly been responsible for the price being significantly reduced for less than its worth for their buyers.  Houses are worth what they are worth on any particular day and agents do not have any miraculous ability to change that.

I feel that it is my job as an agent to have a firm grasp of a property's value and to be able to support that with concrete evidence.  That's the starting point obviously of any negotiation.   Agents should have a very clear idea of a property's condition (kinda stating the obvious here), especially how it compares to similar homes in the area and what systems in the house are new, newish or will need to be replaced.  If a house hasn't been updated for over 20 years, that is obviously an issue, although a different one than replacing major systems.

Where negotiation skills are most important is keeping everyone as cool and calm as possible.  I haven't been an agent for all that long and haven't had a lot of transactions but almost every one I've been involved with has been permeated by emotion both from the buyer side and the seller side.  Somehow egos supercede logic in many cases.

This is where agents who do their job well can be invaluable:  being knowledgable of a house's worth, imparting that knowledge, keeping clients/customers reasonable based on that knowledge and simply keeping everything running smoothly.

Are we necessary?  Of course not.  Do we provide a service that has value?  To many people, of course.  Should it be a choice?  Absolutely.
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May 19 2011
You need to interview Agents/Brokers until you ae satisfied and research online. I am a National Relocation Coordinator for Century 21 and can also research for you....FREE!
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May 19 2011
I hope you use a realtor. And I am sorry to hear you picked ones in the past who didnt serve your needs. Perhaps you should sit down with them in advance and tell them exactly what you expect of them. How many homes you want to see, how you want to see them, when you want to see them. Dont sign the buyers agreement until you go to purchase, so you can walk away at any point. I know if you worked with me, you would be happy because I want to make sure your needs are served, however, I do not work up there. There are agents like me around you. Interview a few and once you pick one, don't be nervous,trust them, but tell them what you want. They cant read minds. ok?
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May 19 2011
I am with Joseph of Clove Lake Realty.    Go with Option #1.   It appears you are experienced.....  Good choice!  :-))
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May 18 2011
Profile picture for mrfnuts
Against my better judgement, I feel compelled to respond to Klarek's post.  I think of my job as a transaction coordinator, a go-between, a facilitator, negotiator, mediator, expert in my market, hand holder (when necessary), an amateur psychologist when necessary, a persistent pest when necessary and whatever else is necessary to get buyers through closing.

Ok, I don't doubt you do all these things.  But, are they necessary, or even useful?  Much of you have to do is for legal reason, a CYA for those in the profession if you will.  It's not like a buyer and a seller would even be necessitated to do 1/4 of the things you justify your fee on.  So, yes, doing a lot of work because your profession requires it, but, is not actually required for the buyer and the seller is merely stating you do work to do work, not really saying you are doing a service that the buyer and seller would otherwise have to do.  Since, all the buyers legal interests and obligations are represented by their respective attorney's, it really does reduce the real value added provided by the broker to that of  the owner not having to be home in order for his/her house to be shown.  Of course, I wonder too if the sellers interests are 100% represented when I can see that open houses are often used for finding new clients to buy 'a house', and not necessarily finding a buyer for that specific house that the seller was expecting to be marketed.

I am also curious as to exactly what tangible benefit do you bring to a negotiation?  What is this 'negotiator' stuff all about?  Not saying you don't, but, since you brought it up, you should at least provide evidence, no?  Just saying so, doesn't make it so.

Not all people require these services.  I understand that.  I also understand frustration with having to pay for agent services on all listed houses, like it or not.  However, this doesn't take away from the difficulty and usefulness of a good agent that is subjected to so much that can go wrong under the most intense and stressful circumstances and is required to remain cool, calm and professional when everything that can go wrong does, through no fault of the agent.

I don't disagree.  But, again I believe the process is deliberately made to look complicated so that the principal parties maintain a hands off approach.  At the end of the day it's a contract that transfers ownership (and liability) for an asset from one party to another, and I'd much rather have a good lawyer, instead of a good transaction broker.

As far as keeping cool, well, that's a good skill in general, I don't think it's exclusive to real estate agents.  But, even if such a representative is needed, is it worth $30K on a $500K house?  I'd argue that perhaps the seller might better spend their money on a few anger management courses if that is the cost for to purchase a representative with that skill

At any rate, didn't really want to be so facetious, as I do think can provide a value added service, but, don't think you can convince of it with nice words, and examples devoid of any specifics.  And you have to note that much of your value added has been made irrelevant by the internet and technology in general.  On the bright side it's also lowered your costs too.  Perhaps it is time to adjust your business model in a way that makes it still profitable to be an agent but, at a rate less than 6% ?
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May 16 2011
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May 16 2011
It seems odd that you would continue to do something you are not satisfied with 8 times. After 8 transactions you should be able to follow your choice #1.
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May 16 2011
Against my better judgement, I feel compelled to respond to Klarek's post.  I think of my job as a transaction coordinator, a go-between, a facilitator, negotiator, mediator, expert in my market, hand holder (when necessary), an amateur psychologist when necessary, a persistent pest when necessary and whatever else is necessary to get buyers through closing.

Not all people require these services.  I understand that.  I also understand frustration with having to pay for agent services on all listed houses, like it or not.  However, this doesn't take away from the difficulty and usefulness of a good agent that is subjected to so much that can go wrong under the most intense and stressful circumstances and is required to remain cool, calm and professional when everything that can go wrong does, through no fault of the agent.

The frustration with NAR, being required to use an agent like it or not, and incompetent or unethical agents does NOT take away from the superb job so many hard working agents do.  

Ignorance of what agents really do and what is involved in this job is not excuse for painting an extremely broad brush.


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May 16 2011
Profile picture for klarek the realist
Michele:

Much of what realtor offer are not just strolls through homes, but experience in putting together all aspects of the deal

All aspects?  Making sure the house doesn't have critical flaws?  Home inspector does that.  Making sure all the titling information and liens are closed up?  A RE attorney can do that for less than a thousand dollars.  So what really needs to be done by agents here?  Faxing papers and opening a door are not worth $9000 in my opinion.  Guess that's why it's conveniently "paid for by the seller".

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May 16 2011
There are many agents that "work" in many different ways. I would interview, look at what their marketing efforts are and how strong their agent to agent sphere of influence is. This will help get the word out on the home you wish to sell, as well as bring in many potential buyers. An agent should be actively working for their clients...this is what we are in the business for. Experienced agents usually have a marketing plan they can go over with their clients/potential clients explaining what they will do, so you know what to expect and when.
Regards,
Colvina
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May 10 2011
So sorry to hear of your difficulties with Realtors in the past. Rest assured, not all Realtors are alike. Many of us are highly educated professionals that strive to meet the highest expectations. I am personally a former real estate Attorney and work extremely hard, to the highest professional standards to get my clients the ultimate deal. Simply put, some Realtors are true professionals while others are not. It is the same in every profession. I would suggest you ask your friends and family for referrals before hiring your next Realtor. The majority of my business comes from past clients and referrals. It says a lot about one's business practices.
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May 04 2011
Much of what realtor offer are not just strolls through homes, but experience in putting together all aspects of the deal, advocation for your posistion in the deal, and seeing that it goes through.  If it looks effortless from your point of view, then perhaps those you have worked with have made it appear so.  There is a great deal of experience, training, and knowledge to transact a sale, and because the public does not see what we as realtors do to make it all happen, I do think we can appear slack.  There are probably some who are, but my days are long.  Best of luck with your upcoming transaction!
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May 04 2011
Profile picture for Pasadenan
"I just hate to see us all painted into the same box around here" -

Well, I certainly wouldn't claim all Realtors® come out of the same box!

For example, I don't see any Realtors® on this board offering "guarantees", except for one; and when I ask for clarification on the guarantee, none is provided.

That only reflects on the one that offered a guarantee, not on any others.
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May 04 2011
Profile picture for klarek the realist
It's slander in my book.... Your welcome to your opinion. What do you do for a living?

Operations Research, statistical analyst, non-RE-related. 

Slander?   Don't be so sensitive.  Tell me about the sophistication you added to the for your clients who you helped buy into the worst housing market in the entire country. 

How did your market knowledge (which you're touting) help your clients?  Did you do what Roberto did, emphatically warn them that the market was unsustainable and bound to crash?  Or did you say "it's a seller's market, buy before you're priced out forever"?
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May 04 2011
Profile picture for Pasadenan
Present price of gold is $1545.30 per ounce.  Certainly, I wouldn't expect an agent that weights more to be "worth more"... but to each their own.

So, at an average of 180 lbs per person, 16 ounces per pound, that would place the value of an agent as about $4.45 million.

If one is buying or selling a $450k house, I hardly see why they would consider their agent "worth" about 10 times the value of the transaction.  Most are not even willing to pay 6%, let alone 1000%.

Are we talking "life time earning potential"?

So economic news publications place the "value" of Bill Gates in the billions of dollars?  So Bill is worth about the value of over 1000 Real Estate agents?

And the U.S. Federal Government has determined that Osama Bin Laden is worth in the trillions of dollars, even if "dead"?

Why would anyone want their value compared to Osama?

The Bible states that each person is of infinite worth.  And it is not what one does that makes one valuable, but the one that created the individual that makes the individual valuable.
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May 02 2011
Out of the 144 replies and responses here, I'm certain you'll pick up plenty of awesome and sound advice.  Many of the agents who responded here I know personally and are worth their weight and experience in GOLD!! 
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May 02 2011
I hear this often.  I am sorry for your experience.  There are those that offer excellent service and those that are quite the opposite.  My advice is to ask certain questions of the Realtor before working with them.  It is also important to be aware of your initial phone call and in person contact with them.  Did they return your call promptly? Were they on time for your appointment?  Did they offer you materials that showed thought about "you"?  Did they provide references of people you could call?  I have many questions on my website just for the purpose of helping people like you get to the right Realtor.  Just go to www.BuyOrSellAHomeInLosAngeles.com and go to Buy/Sell.  I really hope you have a better experience.  As far as an attorney goes, they are great to review ddocuments but they really do not have any real knowledge of homes in your area of interest since they do not go out every week looking at properties.  If you wish to negotiate, first-hand knowledge of the market is key.
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May 02 2011

don't mistake my comment for agreeing that the content is bad.  the discussion is good and should happen. but it has a life of it's own and not on this guy's question.  Joan B had a great thread for this type of discussion...why not go over there and carry this on?

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April 30 2011
Profile picture for SteadyState
Mr. Todd Akes is very upset at various views expressed on this board and he calls some opinions slander. Now I will not use labels but I would like Todd to explain the following from his Zillow home page:

1) Mr. Todd - under the first review posted it says " - Highly likely to recommend
Sold a Single Family home in 2010 for approximately $425k in Anthem, Henderson, NV."
 But then the message reads: "Todd was able to help my family get into a home in October of 2010...."
Is the reviewer mistaken that you sold his home when he thinks he bought one?
2) The third review starts with: "Highly likely to recommend Sold a Single Family home in 2011 in The Lakes, Las Vegas, NV".
But here also the poster continues with: "Todd is a great agent! He listened to our needs and guided the process smoothly so that the transaction for our new house was effortless. Thanks Todd!"

Once again is the reviewer mistaken that you sold their home when they mistakenly think they bought one?


Care to clarify what is going on?
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April 30 2011
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Homes for Sale
  1. 150 Moreland St, Staten Island, NY Home For Sale
    150 Moreland St, Staten Island, NY 10306

     For Sale: $419,900

    • Beds: 3
    • Sqft: 1150
    • Baths: 2.0
    • Lot: --
  2. 152 Moreland St, Staten Island, NY Home For Sale
    152 Moreland St, Staten Island, NY 10306

     For Sale: $409,900

    • Beds: 3
    • Sqft: 1150
    • Baths: 2.0
    • Lot: --
  3. 22 University Pl, Staten Island, NY Home For Sale
    22 University Pl, Staten Island, NY 10301

     For Sale: $549,900

    • Beds: 3
    • Sqft: 1200
    • Baths: 1.0
    • Lot: 4800