Sellers & Brokers:

Chris Fountain at “For What It’s Worth” is one of the better real estate bloggers out there IMHO because there seems to be no B.S. in the man. Either as a listing or selling agent he gives a brutally honest opinion of worth without regard to damaging the fragile sensibilities of seller and fellow broker alike. He acts like a guy who figures if you are in the market to buy or sell a house in the price range he deals in, you’ve been around the block a time or two and should be able to determine if someone is blowing smoke up your arse or not.

Below I have reproduced in full a short post of his from yesterday that really says it all regarding the only criteria for choosing a listing broker for selling your home. Do you trust the broker to place your best interests over his or hers in a transaction.

Who’s to blame?

I have buyers with $3.5, $4, $4, $5, $6 and $6 million respectively, cash, ready to buy in Greenwich, and aside from those properties owned by lenders or heading there, I can find nothing to recommend. We’ve weeded through and dismissed existing houses and viewing new listings is useless because they’re coming on at prices that are so crazy it’s obvious the owner won’t be reasonable for a long time. One came on recently for just under $3 million, for instance, and with that price offers the roar of I-95 at no extra cost. Others are perfectly nice, older homes, but are priced millions of dollars above what I think they will eventually sell for. What the F? I blame the listing brokers for these prices, either because they suggested them in the first place or accepted their clients’ opinion of value. Either way, they’re doing their sellers no favor. I was taken to task a year ago for suggesting that a particular house was overpriced – the listing agent told me that the sellers were “a really nice couple who have to move and get on with their lives”. I wasn’t sure how that affected the value of the house but did suggest that, if they had to move, they should lower their price. A few weeks ago that same broker told me rather smugly that the house was finally under contract. “Of course,” she conceded, “it is a short sale.” So the sellers have lost everything and the bank will get a fraction of what it loaned on the house. Who was kinder to those poor people in this instance, their agent for encouraging them to stick with an unrealistic price, or me? I’m not losing sleep over that question.

The broker who sold the short sale here was obviously less concerned about her client than she was about her commission. Unfortunately this is more common in the business than you might think. Many brokers will come to a listing presentation with only the goal of “getting the listing” rather than presenting a simple strategy to get the seller the most for their home in the shortest amont of time and then letting the chips fall where they may. You can usually spot these brokers as they are armed with a stack of statistics and superfluous information the size of an Omnibus spending bill and by the fact that they will agree with you enthusiastically on virtually any subject from what you think your home might be worth to your opinions on the probablity that the moon landing in 1969 was a hoax. The law of “Occam’s Razor” can apply to choosing a real estate broker as it does almost anywhere. It states that “All things being equal, the simplest answer is usually the correct one.” So keep it simple. Ask your broker for comps on SOLD homes to set the price. How will they market the home other than posting it to the mls and waiting for the offers to roll in. Ask for client references from your broker and then call them. Ask them the only question that really matters. Did the broker represent their client’s interests in the transaction above all else?
Or you can price your home by picking a number out of a hat, maybe based on what you paid or what you need to get and roll the dice. In this instance any broker will do. Somebody has to win the lotto. Maybe it will be you!


2 responses to “Sellers & Brokers:

  1. Whoops, I think I posted my previous comment on the wrong thread!

    I lost my place. That’s what I get for running a quick errand in the middle of my blog reading. Sorry.

    Now, on topic. You covered this excellently. A solid realtor brings sold/current listing comps, measures your house, checks out any bells and whistles and gives it to you straight. I’m of the opinion there are more crappy realtors than good ones running the streets. Of all the people in the business I worked with for many years, the most professional (not to mention top earners) were nearly always men. I know residential real estate is dominated by women, but after my inside view, I would never list my house with a chick.

    My parents made the mistake of listing their drop dead gorgeous house that backs to a lovely creek and nature preserve with some twit who overpriced it by 75K – guess what, that baby’s still sitting on the market six months later and now they’re carrying two house payments because they bought a new one on her enthusiastic advice that their house would be snapped up by the end of the month.

    They wouldn’t listen to me or take my recommendation for an honest realtor. Now they’re calling me and my guy is willing to reduce his commission by a point – I told him not to, just kick me back some sugar when he gets the thing sold at fair market price. (I’m a mercenary daughter)

    I loved your use of “Occam’s Razor”, the last time I saw it dealt properly was by me in an argument with a Truther some few months ago. You just get more appealing by the day, Mark.

  2. Not to scare you Daphne but Nancy Pelosi possesses all of the physical and mental characteristics of the average realtor in my experience. When they toss her out of the House of Representatives she has an excellent future as a real estate maven.

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