This past weekend, I met with a seller a few towns away a number of miles from my home office. I live in a particular town that has specific demographics and I went about forty minutes south to another town. During the listing presentation, which went very well, I was asked, “Why should I list with you versus using a local broker?” It was a very good question and it comes up quite a bit.
The advantage of having a local broker has evolved. Prior to the evolution of the Internet, sites such as Zillow, Trulia, Realtor, and our own individual websites which now currently play a larger role in the business, the local office on any given Main Street with their big sign, and pictures in the window of the listings, that at one point in time held a lot of clout. It was very important to be dialed in, connected. But now? We have the Internet, all the technology. Buyers are currently finding their homes on the big sites, the Zillows, the Trulias, the Realtors, the ERAs, and any other big site that’s out there. That is how people are looking for houses and then they are contacting their agent. Very rarely does an agent’s suggestion trump what the buyer finds on his or her own. What I said to the seller and what consumers should understand is, “Not many people are going to move from Springfield to Springfield. People are either going to come into Springfield from another town or they are going to sell in Springfield to go to another town.”
Back to the question, “Should I hire a local agent?” A local agent is great because they know the town. A local agent knows what the trends in the town are and is aware of the local happenings, but they really aren’t going to show your home that much. The buyer agent is going to show your house. “Do I need a local agent to sell my house?” No, not really. “Should I work with a local buyer agent?” Now, that, of course, is a completely different story.
Do you want to know the train routes and the bus routes? Do you want to find out where the schools are and how they may rank? Where is the police station? Where is the fire station? Is there a town pool or is there a YMCA? What are the power companies? Do you get Comcast or Fios? These are the kinds of questions that a buyer will ask. If you are a local to a specific area, as I am to Springfield for example, you will know, for instance, that Comcast and Verizon service the area. It is a municipal power company versus a national power company. The whole town is on public water and/or public sewer and/or septic. There are three elementary schools that feed into the high school. I know all the local stores, the local mechanics, and the local restaurants. These are the kind of things that prove to be an advantage when using a local buyer agent to buy a home in a local area.
However, I will caution you, nobody can know a town one hundred percent. A really good agent knows maybe eighty percent of maybe seven to ten towns. And if they don’t, they most certainly have the technology to pull up the answers and fast, while you are in the very house viewing it, during the showing, or in between showings. A buyer agent is not going to know every single tiny thing that you need to know about the house at that particular point and the town, but they now have the capability to quickly research all those things.
So, when selling a home, no, I do not think it is necessary to use a local agent. As I said, not many folks are going to move to a separate location in the same town in which they are currently residing, like moving from a house in Springfield to another house in Springfield. They are either going to be moving in to town or they are going to be moving out of town, and the buyer is most likely going to find their home online. If you are looking for a home to buy and you want to move into a particular town, then certainly, a local agent is a good way to go.
As follow up for the previous blog post and Russell Realty Minute podcast on listing your house with a local agent, I want to be clear that it has its pros and cons. Local has been defined as pertaining to one specific location, but because of the manner that technology has changed our perceptions, local can be defined today as basically being accessible and visible on the Internet. When hiring an agent, it is not about how many homes they have sold in any given town, nor is it about where their Main Street office is, it is really about if the agent you hire is going to market the home to get the best possible results. Are they getting me maximum screen time and getting me the highest dollar price possible? The agent should be utilizing technology, leveraging the Internet to provide you with the maximum amount of exposure for minimum cost.
If I’m going to look up “Springfield homes for sale,” I want the strongest, most trafficked site to show up. That is how many eyes are going to see the listing. With the growth of Realtor, Zillow, Trulia, this is what is going to give the maximum amount of Internet exposure. Once again, it is all about leveraging the technology, the Internet, to get your home the maximum amount of exposure.
It all comes down to the agent, regardless of where they are from, regardless of where they hang their license (which could be ten, fifteen, twenty, thirty miles away from their office because brokers decide to work for whomever fits their business model). Regardless of where they hang their license and what that address is, they may reside in a particular town, but their mailing address maybe elsewhere, it doesn’t mean that they aren’t a local broker. They still live in that town; they still serve that community.
Concerning hiring a local company: when strolling through downtown areas of certain high-end towns where people look at listings that are in the window of real estate offices… Perhaps these towns are beach towns in New Jersey, on the California coast, or Florida rentals. In general, however, in Suburban America, people are not walking down Main Street looking at listings in a window saying, “This is a local broker. This is a local house. Why don’t we knock on the door, go in and take a look at this house.” That is not how it works. It starts online with the Big Three, the Big Four, the consumer sees the house they like, they make the trip regardless of who lists it, regardless of how it got there, and none of it has to do with a window listing in downtown Main Street, Suburbia, USA.
The point being: When listing with an agent, it is not necessarily important to have the most local agent, it is important to have the agent that is going to market your house to the best of their ability and expose it to the masses.
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