"I decided to go with a local agent..." How to Pick One

Written by Posted On Thursday, 28 June 2018 06:09

The other day I was responding to an email from an online inquiry on a property and after a couple of attempts to reach out and follow up with this potential home buyer, I got an email back that said, "I decided to go with a local broker (agent) .." Even in 2018 this still surprises me when on rare occasion I get this feedback.

It's one born out of a misunderstanding in terms of how agents work. You see, it doesn't matter where your 'broker's' office or corporate office is located. A real estate agent pretty much works where ever there is cell reception and they can access the internet! Okay, not anywhere mind you, but I think to determine whether an agent is local and should have the means and ability to get you into the houses you want to access is more a function of which Realtor Association they are a member of, not where their 'brick and mortar' office is located.

For example, from Madison, GA to Greensboro, Eatonton, and back there is a Lake Country Board of Realtors. They use a distinctly different lockbox system and have access to their own MLS. This means that unless you are a member of Lake Country BOR you can't access their lockboxes and show homes very effectively. You don't have access to any of their sales data, can't run current market analyses to see if a property listed in one of the towns in their service area is listed at a fair price, and lose a lot of ability to truly get to know that market. You also don't have as easy of a time in building contacts with other agents in that market, which can be quite useful as well. This is why I don't show homes in this service area. If I get a referral or someone looking to buy homes in and around Lake Oconee (near Greensboro) for example I will refer them to another agent I know and trust who is a member of their board of Realtors.

This brings me to Athens. The Greater Athens area comprising Athens, Oconee County, and to a lesser extent Oglethorpe, Madison (County), and a smattering of Barrow, Jackson, Walton and other is covered by the Athens Area Association of Realtors and their MLS. Now just take this example. This is saying that within this MLS the Athens area agent should know and be able to serve half a dozen different counties so what is 'local' exactly to a Madison County purchaser? Someone living in Athens? That would be correct.

The home buyer I referenced in the title above was looking in Oconee County. A county in which I live in the Northernmost part of, where I have been a member of the Athens BOR and MLS for over a dozen years, and literally 'pay my dues' each year to be a local agent here.

I'm also a member of NAMAR or the North Atlanta Metro Association of Realtors. This is covered by FMLS and GAMLS. This allows me to touch every listing and enter every lockbox from Atlanta to Athens and back. It also gives me tons of sales data within three different MLS' to do research and know what sales are out there and build contact across these counties.

Another way to know whether an agent has local knowledge is to check the Zillow Agent Finder, which can be found here...https://www.zillow.com/agent-finder/real-estate-agent-reviews/. On the Zillow Agent Finder you can see the number of "local" reviews by city, zip, and county, but also by pulling up an agent's profile you can see what their past clients and customers said about their local knowledge.

Not trying to toot my own horn so to speak, but if you pull up Clarke County, GA it shows that I have 43 "local" reviews, more than some local brokerages, and in Oconee County, which primarily comprises Watkinsville, Bishop, and Watkinsville out of 25 'pages' of agents I have more local reviews as a buyer's agent, for example, than any other agent - most of them having a 'brick and mortar' office in Athens! This shows through providing a high level of comparable data that my local knowledge per what my past clients have said about me is as good as anyone who has a brick and mortar office sitting in Athens today. It would be easy to say the same thing based on my "local" reviews, per the Zillow Agent Finder, in Gwinnett just as well.

What I find the most beneficial in 'selling my point' though, so to speak, is on May 29, 2018 where I had a client review me on Zillow for selling his home. His review;

"Hank is the most professional and experienced agent I have ever worked with! His advice and expertise has made selling several homes (3) hassle and problem free. He kept me well informed during every step of the selling process and immediately responded to all of my requests. You cannot find a BETTER agent."

So for an agent with Gwinnett brick and mortar offices who lives on the Northernmost edge of Oconee County, who's a member of Realtor associations in the NE Metro Atlanta area and the Greater Athens area, this client reviewed me for selling a third house for him, and this one was in "Kennesaw." I sold two of his homes actually in Cobb County. If anything should have branded me as 'not local' it was these two listings yet because I had access to the local MLS that covered the area I could analyze sales comps, come up with a good list price, market the home the same way in Kennesaw that I would on a home in Winder. We listed and sold it in less than a week, obtaining four (4) offers, and my client walked away with 103% of asking price.

All this to say, local is more a function of knowing where that agent or broker has their Realtor affiliation and not as much where their office is located. My office, like most agents, is where ever I am during the day. My job is conducted out in the field showing houses, not behind a desk. As an Realtor, my knowledge of the local markets are unlimited thanks to a wealth of information that I have at my fingertips through affiliations in local Realtor associations in which I have had membership throughout my career!

All 270+ Zillow Reviews with ratings for local knowledge; https://www.zillow.com/profile/hankbailey/#reviews


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Hank Bailey

Hank was born and raised in Athens, GA. He moved to Oconee County in 1984 and has been a resident ever since! Hank started his career in 2005 so he's been on the roller coaster of both up and down markets. Throughout Hank's real estate career he has learned many lessons. He values doing a good job and doing it the right way. His motto is "hard work is not to be applauded, it's to be expected." As he tries to be a good student of his business, he watches trends in every angle of the real estate business, including having an eye to look for and identify the quality of construction on newly renovated flips to new homes.

Also being in front of the MLS or multiple listing service daily on three different MLS platforms (Georgia MLS, FMLS, and Athens MLS) he knows comps, keeps up with new listings, and knows the markets. Having experience for years as an Accredited Buyer's Representative he is adept to knowing what inspections are needed and the right inspector or contractor for the job! Finally, his most fun is negotiating with buyers and sellers. After almost 500 closed sales in his career, he has a lot of experience doing it! In 2010 Hank emerged as the #1 agent with Prudential Georgia Realty, Hoschton, GA. From that point on he has been the #1 agent in each office he has been apart of through 2017. He also is a member of the RE/MAX Hall of Fame, a lifetime achievement club Hank attained in just 3 years!

Hank's key attributes include his dedication to his clients, responsiveness, hard work ethic, and last but not least, his knowledge of how to market residential real estate. He has an unparalleled desire for every client he represents to be part of his extended family, and he has a true commitment to do anything to help them achieve their #housegoals !


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