“We interviewed a ‘stand-alone agent’ and another who has two assistants. The single agent pointed out that we might never hear from the other agent if we hire her because the assistants do all the work. We know you have a team approach and would appreciate your comments.”
—A prospective home seller
What Do Real Estate Teams Do Best?
Home inspections may take three to four hours and produce reports up to twenty pages. Supplemental inspections of roof, fireplace, plumbing, etc. can add further reports. Pest control reports are several pages, and preliminary title reports can be lengthy. By the time an escrow closes, the file may be over an inch thick!
Can you visualize the time it takes to process, organize and monitor all of these details? Are you aware of the current contingency removal process? It requires keeping track and taking affirmative action by specific dates, and there are often several different issues and time frames to deal with, as well as three to four inter-related forms.
Stand-Alone Agent Juggling
If a “stand-alone” agent is meeting with a current or prospective new client, or is out for two to three hours showing properties to a buyer, who is available to answer phone calls and coordinate marketing activities in the office? Who is going to assure that advertising details are completed, digital photography done, and publication deadlines are met? How will brochure boxes get put up, and who has the time to keep them stocked?
If a single agent is at a lengthy property inspection, who can make the calls for a last minute appointment? And who can do a short-notice showing? When an agent is involved in family activities, may be out for a day with the flu, or is otherwise occupied for several hours, who is available to cover the office?
If the agent has an arrangement where another agent will cover such times, how familiar might the other agent be with all the details of your home and property showing routine? The “team agent” also is much more able to be involved in networking with buyers’ agents to increase the attention and energy about your home.
My Experience with My Team
I could never provide by myself even half the level and quality of service my team and I offer. Each of us has areas of specialized skills as well as being able to cover each other’s activities when necessary. We have systems and checklists for handling nearly every aspect of the sale from start to finish, including effective marketing, advertising and escrow management.
The business model that many “team agents” use is similar to a doctor’s office, where a different individual is primarily responsible for reception and information gathering, preliminary measurements and temperature reading, obtaining of any lab samples needed, record-keeping and invoicing. Certainly, the doctor could do most or all of the functions and activities, and probably does in some small towns or rural areas. But in most practices, the professional level of service requires at least two to three other people in the office.
Would a baseball team thrive with just one coach? Could a CPA provide high-quality service for more than a few clients if he was also the receptionist, bookkeeper and file clerk? Would you hire an attorney who did all his own research, computer entry, copying of documents, office records and filing? Also, would you rather have an attorney who is in the courtroom every week, or one who is there three or four times a year? The median average agent serving the Palisades does only one sale a year. Only the top 34 of over 350 agents handled five or more sales in 2002.
I suggest that you get a list of sellers represented during the last few years by both of the agents. Call and ask them to describe their experience, and find out if they would use the same agent again.
If you would like some guidelines for interviewing agents, please call me for a booklet of some suggested questions and other issues to consider.