Last week we mentioned the new Redfin feature that exposes the sales counts for each agent:
They have unleashed a treasure trove of information, but, they don’t talk about how to use it effectively. Let’s examine! Here are some general thoughts, feel free to comment!
1. Number of sales.
An agent needs to be experienced in today’s market if they hope to bring quality help to the table. If they are consistently selling at least one home a month, then they must be creating some value – but you still need to figure out what it is, and if it is what you want/need. Is their 12-month number greater than their 36-month average? If so, they are getting better at handling today’s market.
2. Do agents report sales individually, or as a team?
Check their website for team members, and if you see 10-20 people, then you know that everyone has their role, and they probably report as a team. If they list the names of individual agents, check their stats to confirm.
0-60 sales per year: individual agent reporting
60-150: team reporting
150 and up: Flipper or REO listing agent reporting
Try not to make assumptions if you can help it. An easy way to check is to act like a buyer and call for the lead agent, to see if you can get him or her on the phone. Not everyone is available at every minute, but at least you’ll be able to judge what kind of operaton they are running.
3. How did they do on price?
For seller-sales: When a potential listing agent tells you a price, you want to know if they are accurate, or high-balling you just to get the listing. The average days-on-market stat is unreliable, due to “refreshing” – agents cancelling their old listing, and re-inputting to create new urgency.
Instead, check their solds for prices changes/refreshes. If they are taking several price reductions and 6-12 months to sell the majority of their listings, they don’t appreciate how stale listings get hammered on price these days. Ideally, hire an agent who is consistently selling their listings in less than 60 days.
Also – judge their photos and descriptions on their listings – are they what you want for yours?
For buyer-sales: You can compare recent sales prices to zestimates, but it looks like Zillow is updating zestimates immediately after a sale. Look at the agent’s sales in areas where you know the comps well – how did they do?
Also check to see if the agent is selling quality homes, in quality areas – can they grab the hot buys? In a close bidding war, it’s the little things your agent does, and their reputation in general, that will make the difference.
4. Do they sell houses similar to the one you are selling or buying?
Does the agent have experience is evaluating the quality of upgrades properly? Can they discuss the costs of repairs or improvements to homes in your price range? It’s not imperative, but helpful if they can, and a way for them to add value.
5. Do they need to be a specialist in your area?
Judge the area-specialist question this way. Do you yourself feel comfortable evaluating what a home is worth using internet tools? If so, then figure that agents who have made it through the previous 4 questions are also good at using internet resources to evaluate prices/values, even if they haven’t sold a lot of homes in your area.
While it used to be an advantage to have seen the interiors of the comparable homes sold, these days you can know too much. Buyers feel comfortable with the internet presentations, and are making critical decisions without spending the time to see every house in person. An agent can serve you best by knowing exactly how buyers will react to what they see on-line.
Being an area specialist usually means making deals off the grid – ones you won’t see on the Redfin Scouting Report, so you have to ask the agent directly. If they are representing sellers without exposing the house on the open market (active on MLS for at least a few days), then they aren’t doing you a favor if you’re selling.
6. Don’t assume.
While having more data should empower buyers and sellers to make better decisions, these sales stats are already manipulated by agents. Now that they are out in the open, they will be pimped further – it is what agents do. You will always be better off to meet them in person, and ask a few simple questions. Examples:
A. How have you handled a recent bidding war?
B. Do you have set strategies to achieve the best results for your clients?
C. Describe a recent negotiation where your client was well-served?
D. Tell me about a recent problem that was solved by your innovative solution?
People rarely ask questions, but they should. The environment gets more challenging every day – ensure that you are getting quality assistance!