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Are you planning to move this year?  Get good help!

Tips for finding the right agent (and a blatant pitch to use me!).

1.  Bidding Wars – Whether you are selling or buying, you need an agent who has ample experience with handling a bidding war.  If you only ask one question of your agent-candidates, ask about their experience with bidding wars – especially if you are selling.  Do they have specific strategies?  Are they on the front lines handling the process themselves, or is it dumped off to an assistant?  How many bidding wars were they in last year?

Most of my sales last year involved a bidding war – 16 as listing agent, and 20 with buyers.  There are NO rules or guidelines how to handle them – it is the wild, wild west, and completely up to your agent to procure a successful outcome.  I have specific strategies for sellers and buyers – let’s get together and discuss them!

2.  Proper Valuations – You may not have much time to evaluate a home’s real worth, and it has to appraise too.  Whether you are buying or selling – if you get into a bidding war, your agent needs to provide supreme guidance on pricing.

My listing on Arroyo Hondo is in the Santa Monica tract, an area hammered by low sales and short sale frauds.  Of the 2012 sales, eight of ten sales were in the $785,000 to $965,000 range.  Yet I got two of the three bidders to go over list price, and it closed for $1,110,000, which was the highest sale in Santa Monica last year.  I got a good test too – the appraiser was there for two hours!

3.  Photos and Video – If you are selling, be adamant that when your listing hits the MLS, it has at least a dozen photos and a full youtube video tour (not photos stitched together).  To ensure a bidding war, your agent has to reach all potential buyers immediately – adding photos and video days later will miss a good portion of buyers who are checking the internet every hour.  If you are buying, your agent should be adept at getting a video of a hot new listing, just in case you aren’t available every day to see homes.  You might have to make decisions without seeing the house, and/or want to review a tour of the house after the fact.

Every listing I take will not only have a full compliment of photos, but a carefully-crafted video tour with narration.  I also take videos of homes prior to them hitting the market – like the foreclosures sitting vacant.  Be fully prepared!

4.  On-line Presence – At a minimum, check an agent’s website/blog, and google their name.  Look specifically for them expressing their own opinions and strategies about the 2013 market.  Do they have an accurate read on today’s market?  Do they have anything to say?

I have lots of opinions.

5.  Check Testimonials – Hopefully all agents have client testimonials on their website, but you can check Yelp and others too for third-party opinions.

Yelp allows bogus reviews to be submitted with no recourse, and they filter out legitimate reviews.  Check at the bottom-left corner of the company’s Yelp reviews for this link: (# filtered) to discover additional reviews that their algorithms screened out.

6.  Agent On Duty – It is mind-boggling how many agents disappear when you need them the most.  Make sure you work with somebody who is a full-timer and has adequate market coverage seven days a week, because you don’t know when you’ll need the help.

You know I’m around, and have Richard on back-up too.  Your real estate needs will be served professionally seven days a week here.

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There will be mayhem in the market this year, and the best deals are sold by the best agents.  Get good help – I’m here for you!

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