When he's on his blog , broker Frank Borges LLosa, founder of Frankly Real Estate Inc , enjoys exposing the myths, tricks and truths about the real estate industry -- primarily the less-than-stellar practices of his competition.
He's collected so many stories, he's compiling them into a book tentatively titled, "Don't Buy, Ask Why: 50 Realtor Myths, Tricks and Truths From The Real Estate Gadfly."
In case you didn't know, a gadfly delights in annoyance. LLosa despises what he calls "Sucky Listing Agents" and revels in exposing their poor marketing, particularly when it comes to bad, inadequate or absent photos of homes.
"They don't know the basics of what sells a house," he says.
He cites the example of helping a buyer who wanted a home with a golf course view. He found a $1.5 million listing that only had one photo, and the MLS box wasn't checked that it had a view, but on a hunch, LLosa pursued the listing anyway. The agent directed him to his website for "more information." The site didn't contain additional photos.
"Isn't the MLS designed to have all the information?" he says. "Why should I have to go to his website? Lazy listing agents make my job three times harder. I take about 100 photos for my clients and put them in an album for them online so they can remember one listing from another. Does your BA do that?"
He rants on that his MLS provides a free service for members -- one picture of their listing, which a surprising number of agents opt for -- the drive-by shooting, he derisively calls it. He's stunned that they don't bother to add more exposures, even though they can opt to put in six photos for six dollars or 12 photos at a bargain $20.
LLosa checked out listings in his own building just for grins. Half of the listings had no photos at all, others had only the free MLS drive-by, and only one, count 'em, one had the $6 upload of six pictures.
He tells prospective sellers to choose listing agents based on how they market their properties. "Ask him right there in real time to pull up their last 2 listings," he says. "See if he ordered the free drive by photographer service. See how many photos they have posted (and he better not trick you into showing you photos on their website or firm website, that is hogwash, nobody will see it, make sure it was on the MLS and that they paid the $12)."
LLosa wonders, "How hard is that agent going to fight to get you that last $10,000 if they can't do something as simple as market your property with multiple photos?"
LLosa has other unpleasant surprises for his competition besides exposing them online by making fun of their marketing, or lack thereof. "My method of differentiating myself is exposing the tricks," he says.
For example, he says agents routinely get sellers to list by suggesting a high list price for the home. LLosa and his agents, who work both sides of the transaction, also do listing presentations, but without mentioning price at all. If the seller brings it up, he'll say, "If I can get you $750,000 will you sign with me?" If the seller agrees, he says, "That's not why you should pick an agent. Sign this listing agreement with the price to be determined and I will get the information for you to determine a price that will sell your home."
He also has a few tricks of his own. You've heard of the CMA, the comparative market analysis. LLosa also performs a CRA, a comparative Realtor analysis.
"When I help a client buy, I look at the CMA and do a background check on the agent to find out what percentage of the time they get full price or not. When I help someone buy a house, I treat it like the acquisition of a company, you need to know as much as possible about all the parties."
"My clients were willing to pay full price $650,000 for a house in Falls Church. I did a CRA analysis, and low and behold, I found out that the listing agent always dropped her price by $25,000 if her listings don't sell in 30 days. Since I could identify that trend and we were close to the 30 days, we put in an offer at $30,000 below and it was accepted. I knew it would be accepted because the agent was probably already reminding her seller that it was almost time to drop the price, so the seller was ready. It's like I'm eavesdropping on their conversation."
Another trick up his sleeve is finding out where the owner of a vacant house for sale has moved. "There's a decent chance the listing agent also sold them their new home, so you look at what the agent has under contract for more money, and you know when they're closing and when they need the money," he gloats.
"If you know what the agent's last 10 deals were, you can anticipate what they will do," says LLosa. "If I know that the last three times she sold in one week, she never dropped the price, I'll tell my buyers that. If it's a weekend warrior or discounter, and they've dropped 5000 on each of their last five deals, our offer will look different, and my clients can go buy themselves a motorcycle. It's real money. I save people money."
And how does that translate into marketing? "I make money by you driving your new Honda Civic and saying 'My Realtor got me this car for free!'"