This post takes off on a theme introduced here. It is also the final planned post in the Misconception series.
It doesn’t matter if the agent is from Valdosta…
I commonly hear this one when the seller or buyer has a relative that is an agent in another area… but still in GA. And we actually all go through this phase, I think… The common quotes are as follows:
- “My niece is an agent in Macon and she can write the contract for the house we want to buy… I’m going to let her earn the commission.”
- “My nephew is an agent in Villa Rica, and I’m going to have him list our house. He is on the same MLSs that you are.”
There are a couple of reasons that this doesn’t really work out well… Let’s start with the buyer.
It is doubtful that they really know there area. They don’t live around it, and they aren’t there all of the time… but perhaps they recently moved… that brings us to the mechanics of the transaction. I generally have to visit the house several times to get answers to questions. Usually, before the contract gets written I will visit the house 2-4 times. I may preview the home before I take the actual buyers. Then I will take the buyers… and the buyers almost always want to visit again while narrowing their selection… and often, after deciding that they are going to offer in a particular home, they will visit again to make sure things are going to fit.
After getting the contract written and the negotiation done, there are usually some more visits. At the very least there is one for the inspection. Often it entails a couple of visits. I recently had one the required me to meet with the inspector and 5 or 6 different contractors at various times. I also needed to bring the buyers back to measure the house for furniture and other things.
If the Buyer’s Agent isn’t available for all of this, the Listing Agent ends up having to do it… and that means that they are no longer “cooperating” with the other agent, they are doing the other agent’s job. It also means that often the Listing Agent is put in the position of counseling the buyer. Under GA Agency rules, that is a no-no. The buyers have an agent, and the listing agent isn’t allowed to counsel them… and the listing agent’s job is to promote the interests of the seller (there are limits to that, but you should NEVER be counting on the listing agent to disclose damaging information that isn’t required).
The bottom line is that a “remote agent” isn’t doing their job or servicing the needs of their client by putting in a contract from a couple of hours away… even if they actually are familiar with the area.
And for sellers…
As long as the agent is in the same MLSs, it is awfully tempting to take a listing that isn’t close. Atlanta is a VERY big area. I have referred listing business in Midtown, Marietta, Powder Springs and Ellijay. These are all areas that are served by the MLSs I belong to. I could easily plop a sign in the yard and wait for someone to bring an offer… I can even design a website and a brochure and do other things to market the property…
But, I don’t have the connections to the other area agents. I don’t have the ability to easily and quickly drop by the house to check the flyer box, let in prospective buyers (that are unrepresented, or their agent isn’t available… see above), or just make sure everything is ok. But let’s say that all of those things can be taken care of…
The knowledge of an area that allows us to have a solid idea of pricing and strategy for a particular home requires “feet on the ground” experience. A good local agent should be looking at homes in the area, tracking new listings and keeping on top of the changing competition. As I said, Atlanta is a big area. Right now there are more than 85,000 listings in the MLS. At most, we can only keep real solid track of a few ZIP codes. I will list selected properties that are 30 minutes from me… but I have been tracking the areas for a while. I visit the areas regularly. I mostly list in Lilburn, but I am also inLawrenceville, Norcross, Duluth and Suwanee. Even in those areas, there are pockets I would refer out to someone that is better able to meet the needs of the seller.
That is the bottom line. My goal is to meet the needs of my buyers and sellers. It isn’t about getting my fingers in every deal I can, it is about getting involved when I can make a positive impact. The goal is to make sure that we do what is right for the consumer… sometimes that means passing business along to someone better able to help.