How can real estate agents demonstrate their value in the digital age?

by Jason Porterfield

Attention to detail

Bezanes considers every home he views on behalf of a prospective buyer an opportunity to add to his store of knowledge that he can later use to help other buyers. Making a practice of knowing neighborhoods and even individual buildings inside and out can provide an agent with an edge when helping a client with a search. Knowing which units within a building have carpeting or are finished with hardwood floors, for instance, takes the agent deeper than Trulia, Zillow and other online sources can go, particularly when comparing homes within a specific building or tract.

“The more you know about the building, even just from fielding lead calls where someone asks you about a building, you already know the financial standing of that building,” Bezanes says. “You’ll know that there’s a special assessment pending, that the association is solid or if it’s not, and whether there has been any litigation in the building. All that kind of stuff helps build a mosaic of the details of a property. That’s more than just the raw numbers that Trulia or Zillow give you.”

Knowing how to present a home often helps an agent maximize its value for the client. Best uses her knowledge of what buyers are looking for to stage homes herself to attract the best offers possible.

“Once they sign a listing agreement, I don’t have a staging company go in,” Best says. “I will personally spend the time to stage it myself with their stuff. No stager has schlepped hundreds and hundreds of buyers through a house to listen to them and know what is important to them.”

Neuschel also stages homes herself and has been doing so for 15 years. Like Best, she understands what prospective buyers want to see as they enter a home. It’s the sort of personal touch that people who try to sell on their own without an agent might never consider.

“The fact is that we know what buyers are looking for and how the house has to present itself,” Neuschel says. “The seller never has professional photography done or spends the money on floor plans. Even if they’re hiring a broker just to throw it on the MLS, they don’t have all the pieces that go with it. There’s no silver bullet. You have to do a lot of things really well.”

Hess considers pricing to be one of her strong suits and an element of her business that sets her apart from other Realtors. Her team studies the market, and one member, who has been a licensed appraiser for 15 years, works on setting a realistic price.

“We don’t just ask the seller what they want to price the home,” Hess says. “We have a recommendation and we try to make them understand why pricing is so key to selling at the proper distance from your listing price and within the right number of market days.”

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  • Vanessa Willey says:

    In 2003 when I started selling real estate, I was sure that I would be replaced by technology within five years. This was based on articles I had read in the Wall Street Journal and other publications about technology and real estate. The assumption was that buyers and sellers could manage the entire real estate transaction with a keystroke. Information, carefully guarded by generations of pre-computer real estate agents, would be readily available, making Realtors obsolete. Today, buyers and sellers have ready access not only to home addresses, but comparable properties and estimates of value from multiple computer generated algorithms. Yet, the real estate industry is still relevant. Why, because not only do clients have more information, the real estate industry itself is data rich in a way not possible before computers. For the first time we can track multiple variables that lead to value, as well as the easy to quantify characteristics like square footage, and the number of bedrooms and baths. This rich data is brought to you through the hard work of real estate agents, who create and maintain the information that makes up each multiple listing system.. We are no longer just the guardians of addresses wanting to be sold. Good realtors know how to successfully navigate through a sea of information, adding perspective and context, which only comes from practicing their craft and becoming an expert in the real estate industry.

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