What should I expect from a realtor?
May 15, 2011 5:09 PM   Subscribe

What, exactly, should my realtor be doing?

My wife and I put our house up on the market three months ago, and we hired the realtor that originally helped us buy this house. During the first six weeks or so, we had between 15-20 showings and a couple of open houses with decent traffic, but no offers.

In the last month, there have been no showings. No open houses. We don't hear from our realtor unless we reach out to him first. Before I confront him about what I perceive to be a lack of effort on his part, I want to know what a typical realtor would/should do with a house on the market.

For what it's worth, we're not asking a lot for the market we're in (Indianapolis) - in fact, we're the cheapest house in our neighborhood for sale (four others for sale), both in terms of total price and price/sq. ft. Only one of the other four have sold, but it was a bit of a bigger home. We get feedback with every showing, and most of it is generic "the house shows well" feedback. The only quibble people might have in the feedback is that the two non-master bedrooms are a bit small.

I realize, too, that it's a tough market to try to be selling, but again - no contact from our realtor, hasn't done anything to market the home outside of posting it on MIBOR, maybe comes around once every other week to fill the flyer dispenser out front.

We have an agreement in place with him through the beginning of August, but that's at the tail-end of prime house-buying season in our area - we don't want to muddle through this summer with half-hearted effort.

What should we be asking of him? What would you do?
posted by po822000 to Home & Garden (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I'd ask him what his plans are for the period between now and August. This gives him (and you) an easy way of correcting the problem without a potentially problematic confrontation.
posted by SMPA at 5:16 PM on May 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

March right out and buy a copy of Freakonomics, by Steven Levitt & Stephen Dubner. Read chapter two.
posted by perspicio at 5:30 PM on May 15, 2011 [3 favorites]

I'd be calling him once a week. The squeaky wheel gets the grease.

And, I'd have a frank discussion with him about why the showing suddenly dropped off to nothing. Was it because he decided he couldn't sell your place? If so, ask him to terminate the contract early.

Also: it's your house, not his. Take charge of the marketing. Ask how it's being advertised; look at the online listings to see if they measure up (are the photos good, or should you have some professional photos taken? Are all the good selling points listed? is all of that in the brochure? Are they working social media like Facebook and Twitter?

And again: call the broker every week.
posted by beagle at 6:27 PM on May 15, 2011

Open houses don't typically get offers. What they do is get leads for the realtor.

He can't force other realtors to show your home. From what you have said, for this market you have actually had a decent amount of showings. And I don't know what it is like in your area but in ours what people are buying is investment property, not homes they plan on living in.

Any marketing on his or her part is probably more along the lines of getting other realtors to show your home. He will show your home to his clients only if it fits what they are looking for as otherwise he will be ticking them off.

That having been said, if you are in the MLS, other realtors will be very aware of your home. They will be pulling lists of homes to show to their clients and they always want as many options as possible.

What you do need to do is call your realtor and ask his or her opinion on why this home is not showing. And listen carefully.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 6:41 PM on May 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

the rate of showings, i believe, is typical. everyone out there visits in the first month but, since there aren't a lot of new buyers coming into the market, the showings will tail off and become very sparse for a long time.

i am about to put my house on the market. I am starting with a low price in hopes that someone in that first group wants the house. But if that doesn't happen, it's going to take a long time even with a low price given the limited number of buyers. In this market, i am hunkering down for the long haul.
posted by alcahofa at 7:22 PM on May 15, 2011

I would make sure my house was listed on the major sites: realtor, trulia and any regional sites. The fact that an agent lists it on their own ACME Realty site isn't very helpful. Also, make sure there are plenty of good pictures. I'm in the market for a house now and it amazes me how many homes have either one or zero pictures online. After filtering by area and price range, I usually sort by number of pictures. I saw a great house in one of my favorite neighborhoods last week. I went home and checked all the sites, including the Realtor selling the house. It wasn't listed anywhere. I would be screaming at my agent in that situation.

And the fact that your house is the cheapest in the neighborhood doesn't mean anything. I'm in the market now for a house and price isn't the deciding factor. I look at how recently (if ever) the kitchen and baths have been remodeled (and if the house is newer, is everything builder grade), is the backyard somewhat private, is there wallpaper in every room I need to remove, are there popcorn ceilings, and the list goes on and on. The more things your house doesn't match on my list, the lower my interest (or lower the price needs to be). I bought my last house in 2005 and gladly accepted all of the faults while also overbidding by $5K but this isn't 2005. I busted my butt to get my house in selling condition last year and I expect no less from sellers now that I'm the buyer.
posted by thebriguy72 at 7:38 PM on May 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

Is it perhaps listed too low? If it's notably below the other comps, a lot of people will assume that there's some sort of major upgrade needed, or that the house is smaller than it sounds, or is otherwise less desirable. (Plus, uh, less money for your realtor, especially after the buyer negotiates down a little bit.)
posted by desuetude at 8:09 PM on May 15, 2011

Take it for what it is worth: Initial listing, no showings: problem with the price. Initial listing, lots of showings, no offers, problem with the house (ie, price seemed OK but site visit revealed condition, location, other problems).

As for what your agent should be doing...all they can do is follow up with the agents of the folks who have visited and find out which of the above made their clients not pony up an offer, and then discuss with you what might be done about it. I don't know about your locality, but here I would say a fairly large majority of buyers do their own screenings via the internet, so it's not like agents can flush buyers out of the woodwork.

So despite being the low price on your block, I suspect the price may still be too high for the market.

Open houses rarely do much, and once the listing is stale they do less, in my opinion.
posted by maxwelton at 11:03 PM on May 15, 2011

We were in this situation, exactly the same situation. I was annoyed that I didn't get enough communication unless I asked for it, we got some initial showings but no offers, and I didn't understand why on earth I would ever pay this woman who was doing nothing 3% of our selling price.

We switched realtors. They convinced us to significantly lower our price (which original relator never even mentioned). We sold the house in two days.

In addition to the price, our second realtor was a seller's agent - almost everyone he represented was a seller. He had a lot of data to back up why he thought we were priced too high, what he thought the market would do in the future, and what things should be done to the inside of our house to help it sell. He also seemed to have a great reputation with other agents.

Warning, however, I do feel like he pushed me into pricing the house too low - I think we could have gotten another $10K out of it, probably. But having it gone was such a relief that I don't really care.
posted by dpx.mfx at 7:10 AM on May 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

I think dpx.mfx hit it on the head.

Do you want to sell your house fast or sell it at the price you have in mind? A good realtor should be know what you want and then act accordingly to hit your target, or pass on your house if they don't believe it will sell at the price you want.
posted by zombieApoc at 7:56 AM on May 16, 2011

I want to address two issues: (a) switching realtors mid-contract and (b) what the realtor should be doing to sell your home.

(a) When selling our first condo (in Boston) we decided to switch after we got very little activity from the first realtor and we found the next home we wanted to make an offer on. Terminating the contract early turned out to be a pretty big pain but the way it ended up working out was that the original realtor put together a list of his most likely buyers in a sealed envelope, and the new realtor agreed to share the commission with the original agent if any of them ended up buying our place.

(b) The second realtor, unlike the first, worked for a nationwide real estate agency. In addition to two open houses that he held for the general public in the first two weeks of getting the listing, he also hosted an open house with snacks and drinks for his colleagues from the various nearby offices of the agency. Also, in the first week our condo’s photo was included in the agency’s weekly full-page colour ad in the Boston Globe. Finally, the realtor sent out one thousand postcards with a photo of our property to a mailing list that included everyone in our building.

After the switch, the place sold within three weeks. To someone on the original realtor’s list.
posted by Dragonness at 8:07 AM on May 16, 2011

So switch to someone else as soon as you can. It's business, not friendship, and they're your agent.

That said, after the first week or two the traffic will really come from other agents in the same office who have bnew buyers. (Most places, the same person can't represent both the buyer and seller.)

The other main source is MLS, so make sure the pictures on your house's listing are good. Provide better ones of your own, which I did last summer -- and also provide goood details of any recent upgrades that can be added to the listing.

We changed agents, and the same materials provided up front (especially pictures and a list of improvements since we bought the place) we sold it in like two weeks last August in Rhode Island.
posted by wenestvedt at 10:06 AM on May 16, 2011

« Older Where can I find fresh cheese curds in or around...   |   OK for New Cat Mommy to Sort of Ignore Her Kittens... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.