If Consumers Shopped as Diligently for Agents as Homes, the Real Estate Business Would Look Quite Different

This is one of those pipe dream scenarios, mostly because it’s virtually impossible to come up with a working set of questions that would help a consumer determine whether their agent is competent and worthy of their business.

Truthfully, questions could run the gamut and you still might never get to the heart of the issue. You can ask an agent how long they’ve been in the business, though it’s not at all uncommon to find a fairly new agent who knows the business a bit better than a more experienced agent.

“Can I get the lockbox CBS code for the home inspector?”

“Don’t you have a Supra Key?”

“I do, but they need the CBS code to get in.”

“Wait … there’s a separate code a contractor can use to open the box?”

Actual conversation.

You can ask someone to give a couple of examples of when they have successfully used the terms of the contract to their client’s benefit but not everyone will have an answer and, quite frankly, many answers are all but worthless. It doesn’t take much brain power to know which box to check to have the seller pay an HOA transfer fee; it takes a little bit more knowledge to claim a buyers’ earnest deposit if they don’t follow the terms of the contract to disclose their inability to get a loan.

You can ask someone how many listings they have and how long they’ve been on the market though, quite frankly, there are times the days on market are out of the listing agent’s hands. Ideally, no agent would take an unsellable listing but there are going to be times when a quality listing slowly becomes unsellable as the market around the house crumbles and the seller isn’t willing to adjust quickly enough.

You can ask someone how often their buyers get a short sale though it’s a lot like asking someone their victory rate at roulette.

You always could wait for free market theory to take hold and for the incompetent agents and brokers to disappear for lack of business, but there always are cousins and friends out there willing to send business to people they ought not trust selling Girl Scout cookies.

Still … maybe the answer to these and other questions isn’t necessarily as important as the manner in which it’s delivered, the confidence and competence conveyed as objections are raised and answered.

You see, with incredibly rare exceptions, all of us in this business answer to the man or the woman in the mirror. You can repeat to yourself that “I will sell this house today” like Annette Benning in American Beauty but it’s hard to hide completely the doubts that may lurk in the back of someone’s mind.

I’m not taking about an agent’s ability to counter objections with the standard speeches most of us are taught but the ability to adapt to changing circumstances, to pressure, to negotiation even if that negotiation at this point only is for your business.

Maybe it’s not as important to know what questions to ask as simply to ask and listen. Even that would go a long way toward holding agents accountable for results. Because, in all truth, most buyers or sellers won’t realize how incompetent their agent really is until those moments when they need them to be competent.

[tags]Phoenix real estate[/tags]

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 allphoenixrealestate.com.

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