Building a More Accurate Real Estate Reality

Real estate, as I have said many times, is a peculiar occupation.

Very little of what a real estate agent does is particularly complicated … any homeowner can sell a house on their own, just as any buyer can purchase a home on their own without any assistance.¬†Like most any other vocations, though, there are situations that constantly arise that can be solved best by someone who has been there before.

It’s that experience and ability to guide a transaction from beginning to end that constitutes the majority of a real estate agent’s value. But that’s not what the public as a whole tends to believe so, rather than explain what it is we really do, we speak to the public perception.

Take, for example, the marketing of a real estate listing. I’ve seen on Facebook agents who claim to have a 230-odd point marketing plan for every on of their listings. Such a lengthy checklist absolutely is appropriate if you happen to be launching the Space Shuttle. But for marketing a house?

Here are the main things needed to get a house sold

  1. The right price
  2. Marketing that entices the online consumer and his or her agent. Read: decent photographs and a coherent description
  3. The right price
  4. The right price

It helps greatly to have the home in the MLS because that’s where the agents happen to be. And, as a general rule, we have more buyers in our hip pocket than you as a consumer who will sell one or two homes in his or lifetime probably has handy.¬†Photographs that make the property look attractive also help, which is why I bring in the professionals on anything $75,000 and up.

Without the right price, though, none of the above is going to matter. But it’s rare you’ll find an agent mentioning that.

Instead, you’re going to receive the old slight of hand … open houses, color flyers, e-mail flyers, Zillow and Trulia, etc. None are particularly effective in and of themselves, none will save a listing from the wrong price, but all give the appearance of work. And that’s what most sellers look for … an agent who looks busy, even though there tends to be a bit of down time in the listing process.

What got me thinking about this was previewing a house in Troon North shortly before the agent was having an open house. Every agent when they start out is told by his or her broker to sit an open house to pick up some buyers, and all are given the same pair of recommendations. Call them two basic rules of thumb for deciding whether a home should be held open …

  1. Location. If it takes more than three or four turns for someone to reach the house, forget it.
  2. Ease of access. If it’s in a gated community and the gates are close, forget it. (Because, duh, people can’t get in.)

This home met neither standard. And yet there was the open house, scheduled once again, because it allowed the agent to look busy.

Would-be sellers love this … look how hard the agent is working! … when they should be asking, why has there been an open house every weekend for two months without the home selling?

Maybe because it’s an ineffective marketing tactic?

A while ago, I decided to promise up front not to bother with horse and pony tricks like Open Houses, broker tours and the like, just because I realized I’d rather be honest than serve up the same garbage as the rest of the agent population. Some sellers like it. Some don’t. And if you don’t, that’s fine. There are other agents out there.

Deep down, though, I hope the public will step back and consider what really works versus what looks like work. For many in corporate America, that’s a rather fine line – having survived myself, it’s amazing how much time was spent trying to look busy as opposed to being actually productive (and being rewarded for appearances.)

There ought to be a more accurate real estate reality out there. But it’s up to you as much as it is up to me.

Jonathan Dalton

Jonathan Dalton is a 40-plus-year resident of the Valley and has been helping folks buy and sell homes since 2004. He can be reached at 602-502-9693 or info at