I’d like to articulate something that hopefully resonates with you. It has to do with huge paradigms instilled in peoples’ minds from their parents and their parents’ parents… (I think they’re called Grand Parents?). I’m going to try to be a lyrical Leonardo DiCaprio, and put a new idea into your mind. Hopefully I don’t have to go into a dream’s dream—a Grand Dream? If you will
Listen, it’s not your fault. It’s not anyone’s fault really. Technology has advanced, but unless you’re entrenched into the business of Real Estate, you haven’t advanced with technology; AND! And… sometimes, even real estate agents are in this boat too. Again, not your fault, don’t beat yourself up. Since we’re on the subject of actors and awesome movies, let’s Quentin Tarantino it here:
- Agents do not “serve an Area” and they do not have to live close, have an office in the town, or know anything about the area prior, in order to sell your home, or help you buy, in aforementioned area.
- Agents that have more years of experience are not necessarily better equipped to help you buy or sell a home.
These are the paradigms you need to accept in today’s world. Now, in true QT fashion let’s go back to the beginning. At first this might seem crazy… because of what you think you know and what the people before you thought they knew. Pre-internet is where these spinning totems existed and no one has taken them out of the safe since then (you need to see the movie Inception for that reference).
Let’s tackle the first paradigm you need to change:
An Agent is better because they live/work/know here.
Back then, having a real estate agent who knew your town, worked in your town, had sales in your town, etc. was VERY important. You needed to rely on them having their ear to the ground, having potential buyers for your home, knowing what’s coming on the market, what is on the market, blah blah blah. I salute these men and women of old, because the real estate job was probably a little more time consuming back then. Living in the town and being an expert in a specific area used to be a very strong benefit, and sometimes this was the only distinguishable attribute for an agent… but that was back then, way back in 1992 (yeah, seriously).
First, having an office in the town does not equal town-knowledge… except for that they know where the office is located within the town, and the roads they take to get there. Not every agent works from the office. Agents pick offices based on environment, commission splits, how much time they can work from home, etc. So just because an agent works at the office in your town doesn’t mean they know the town.
“…just because an agent works at the office in your town doesn’t mean they know the town”
Second, you’re taking the agent’s word for it anyway. When they tell you they live in your town, or grew up there, or whatever… Are you going to quiz them about what used to be on the corner? Are you going to see if they know who the mayor is? Even if they pass your “do you know my area?” test… It’s still mostly an empty sales pitch, whether they’re being truthful or not.
Third, why does this matter? A good agent living in the neighborhood cannot sell a home any better than another good agent unfamiliar with the town. It’s always possible that either an agent prices the home wrong or doesn’t ask the right questions from the seller in order to market the home to buyers—but it has nothing to do with the fact that they are/aren’t familiar.
Echo the first, second, and third points for buyers as well. Agents cannot recommend schools or churches anyway, because we cannot steer you into or away from any town/neighborhood/home. Knowing the different schools is probably the biggest factor for buyers, but again, we can’t steer you one way or another. You need to do your research on which school districts you want to live in, and then we can find a home for you in that district. So again, it doesn’t matter if the agent does/doesn’t know this information because it can’t be used anyway.
Forgive the combative negative tone J (smiley faces always help). Those are my would-be arguments if the only way being familiar with an area was to be geographically near it…But…
We are now in the information age. Every sold property and all of the stats that go with it, including the pictures, are available to anyone and everyone. You can virtually walk through streets anywhere in the world online. You can find out information on any town and all the amenities it offers-i.e. schools, restaurants, etc. This is all available to you, and to your agents. So instead of finding an agent that knows the area (or so they say), find an agent who knows the business, and knows how to find and analyze the information so they can help you make an educated decision.
“…instead of finding an agent that knows the area (or so they say), find an agent who knows the business”
Let’s tackle the 2nd Paradigm to Change:
The longer an agent has been in the business, the better.
There is not “back then” for this idea. This idea stems from assumption in general. There are 2 ends of the spectrum, just like with any bell curve. There are people out there with a lot of experience, which still suck at what they do; and there’s people with little to no experience that are awesome at what they do. Then there’s the majority that fall into the middle—and in most cases the longer you’ve been doing something, the better you are.
However, in real estate, it’s possible to be in the business for 15 years and do the same amount of business as someone who’s been in the business for 1 year. The difference is, the agent with 15 years of experience makes you feel better because they’ve been doing it longer and live in the area (sorry, it just seems like that type of agent would also throw in the locality idea, I couldn’t resist). The better fit in this case might actually be the 1 year agent, because he’s done the same number of transactions at a higher frequency. Which segueys nicely into my next point.
Everything is constantly changing. I’m sure you’ve seen a nice cursive written meme on your feed… maybe with a sunset or a flower backdrop that says “the only thing in life that is constant… is change itself” or some extra corny version of an already cliché phrase. As much as I hate to give it credit, it’s true. The years of experience that an agent has may or may not be relevant today.
There are too many agents relying on their address and the time they’ve put in than focusing on finding a unique sales proposition and keeping up with technology.
It is much more valuable for your agent to be able to think on their feet while protecting your interests to get you the best deal possible. It’s much more valuable for the agent to be able to listen your needs and come up with a plan to meet those needs. It is much more valuable for you to trust your agent and for them to be honest with feedback as you go through the process so that the plan can be adjusted as necessary.
Be sure you have a smart and hardworking agent that can handle social media and modern day communication—who is also trustworthy and can be honest. These agents need to represent you in the sale or purchase—being familiar with the area you’re in/looking in has almost nothing to do with their ability to do that, and the years of experience don’t give you any guarantee either. I would take an awesome agent from a completely different world with decent number of transactions, over one who happens to live in my neighborhood and has been an agent for 10 years… awesome is the key word though.
Thanks for Reading! Comments and Questions welcome!