Do sellers need a local real estate agent? Dispelling a Myth

Written by Posted On Friday, 27 March 2015 04:22


The other day, I got a call from a potential seller. She left me a voice mail asking if I would call her to help her list her home, but then she said, “But I see that you are not with a local company, so you might not be a good fit.”

I called her up and we talked. After I gave her my best “pitch,” she seemed little convinced. It is always amusing to me when I run into a potential seller who feels the need to work with a real estate company that has a “brick-and-mortar” building in their local town, as if that makes any difference to their home selling.


Because we live in such a digital age today. Look at families and couples (and people in general today) in restaurants, ballgames and even at their kids’ T-ball practice who are glued to their digital devices.

I heard a comedian the other day talking about how we Google everything. He said he can’t walk out the door to buy a toothbrush before Googling to see which one is the best.

Now let’s apply this lifestyle to real estate for a moment; the feeling that an agent must have an office just down the road before considering using them to list a house would be like saying, “I would drive to Barnes & Noble to buy a book before I ever attempted to buy one on Amazon,” or “I buy all my records at Best Buy, and I would never use iTunes because they might not have what I need.”

How many letters have you written to friends and family lately telling them how well you and the family are doing? Doesn’t happen anymore except at Christmas from close family with those photographed letters that sum up the past year. Today we Facebook message to say “happy birthday” and post updates to show off our kids and our success.

My point is: We live life differently today than we ever have and that also equates to how we sell houses. No longer is the open house a tool used to entice the wary buyer; rather, digital online marketing is the forefront of sales success to entice “every potential buyer,” not just those who happened to be in town on a Sunday afternoon from 2 to 5 p.m.

Yet, I hear this on occasion from sellers who feel like if their home is within a short drive from the listing agent’s office then service will be better somehow. What is true today with most productive real estate agents, and probably always has been the case, is that we don’t spend much time in the office.

Anytime I go by my company, I see plenty of office staff, but rarely more than one or other agents out of the 40-plus working at our company. If I am sitting in the office, for example, I am probably not being as productive as I would be if I were in my car, on the phone, or with people who are looking to buy and sell a home.

This past week, in Georgia MLS I looked at homes sold “locally” over the past month. What I found is that 65 percent were listed by companies that aren’t local. That’s right: Two-thirds of those listing brokers were not in the same city, but were 24 to 47 minutes away in terms of where their brick-and-mortar buildings were located. There was one who was actually one hour and 26 minutes away from the listing they took and sold.

Why? How could that be? Very simply put, it’s the same MLS. It is the same online process that uploads to Zillow, Trulia, and a few thousand locations around the MSA (metropolitan service area), including every brokerage website via IDX (Internet data exchange) feed.

Today, you won’t find too many agents who can afford to be an expert in only their own neighborhood. I knew of one, but she lived in a gated, upper-end neighborhood where the average sales price was well over $750,000, and she had to sell only a handful of homes a year at that price point anyway. What I hear from people more times than not is that the local agents living in the ‘hood many times don’t have the best reputation because at some point or another they ticked off their neighbor, and let’s be honest, people talk when they are unhappy.

What the message should be to home sellers is that no matter whether I lived in their neighborhood or not, the key to an agent successfully selling their home is follow-up. It is work ethic. It’s being full-time and fully committed to the business.

Regarding local versus experienced agents overall within a market, read another agent opinion on the subject I wanted to share as it makes my point.
"I believe that overall experience (# of transactions) trumps local expertise.
A buyer will be better served by using an experienced agent (negotiation skills, reputation, deep team of lenders/inspectors/tradesmen/escrow-title/offer strategies/ etc.) than an agent who has done very few deals, but all in one relatively small geographic area.
That agent may know the area, it's particular market trends/sales/listings, which schools are which, etc. but not know the difference between using a local direct lending mortgage bank vs. WFB or between using a non-certified home inspector vs. an ASHI one or between doing pre-inspections then writing non-contingent vs. submitting with standard Inspection Contingency or how to address seller concern over possible appraisal shortfall vs. ignoring the issue entirely or....well, you get the point."...


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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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