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How to get the representation that you pay for.

My last entry received so many responses that included something to the effect of Dump your agent go FSBO or Builder Direct. 

While it is true that you cant throw a rock in this area without hitting a Realtor, and it is also true that many of them got into the market when the market was hot and the money fast and easy;  there are also many hard working, dedicated, deserving real estate professionals out there.  People who have a passion for what they do and IT SHOWS! The key is to finding these dynamic professionals and weeding out the others.  This is going to take some work.

The idea of not paying a commission and going builder direct is well founded in some cases, but not practical, not in this market, and not today.  One must keep in mind that :

A)      This market relies heavily on in-migration from other states.  Many of the people moving here are relocating for work and have a Realtor before they even get here.  Alienating the entire agent community, or even just making several of them pretty angry, is sure to result in your product not making the short list.  Lost prospects add up.

B)       Builders and Developers in our market have tried this before unsuccessfully.  Even in California, the BIG builders who went builder direct are trying to court the real estate community now, which is not an easy undertaking after telling them to go away years ago.  It is expensive, frustrating, and time consuming to go back and Un do your builder direct program, which you will undoubtedly need to do.

C)       Keep in mind that commissions are paid on sold houses.  Another paid commission is another sold home. Most of the builders that I know will gladly pay 3% to sell a home.

Maybe you do need to dump your agent, maybe you arent getting what you pay for, but frankly, that is a representation of that particular individual and not of the industry as a whole.  The great agents and companies are few and far between, adding to the challenge of finding great representation.  I assure you, that it is time well spent.

The first step is to go see what is out there.  This is an ever evolving industry, and using the same program that youve used to the past 10 years may not cut it today.  Interview several companies and brokerages.  Dont be afraid to ask hard questions.  Here are a few of my suggestions:

 

1)       Who will be managing my account?  How focused are they?  A condo in Hawaii, Cabin in McCall, and membership to Crane Creek may not be good signs here.  A building company, development company, and spouse with some type of industry related company may also be cause for concern.

2)       How responsive will you be to my phone calls?  (See above).

3)       Do you have a detailed marketing plan?  Can I see an example?

a.        This should show where you will be advertised and more importantly why?  Advertising can be great, but only if it reaches people who will actually buy your product.

b.       What are they advertising? Are these pieces aimed to gain additional clients for that agent (think big Look at Me, Look at Me portraits) or the brokerage (Huge XYZ Realty add with a small list of builders and/or houses)?  Or you and your product or communities?

c.        How do you monitor the results of each piece?

d.       Who owns the prospects?

e.       What is the follow up plan?  How is it implemented and monitored?

f.         When are open houses held?  What does open house mean to you?  Who staffs them?  How are those folks trained, on the sales process, and on my product?  Do they benefit financially by taking the prospects to another listing down the street?

g.        Can I see your training program?

h.       Who pays for what?  What is the accountability?

4)       How can you help me reach my goals?

5)       What do they specialize in?  Can someone who does it all: acreages in Melba, Fixxer uppers on the bench, and commercial developments really be new home sales experts?

6)       What do your reports look like?  Can I see examples?  When will I get them and how?

7)       Will I get market updates?  What will they look like?

a.        If these are numbers generated by pushing one button on MLS with no summary on what the information means to you, your product, your community, etc.  There is cause for concern.

8)       Is this a one size fits all program or do I have the ability to customize my services and price?

9)       How do you work with other agents, in your office and co-broke agents in general?

10)    What is your philosophy on new home sales?

11)    What are your past experiences? Who may I call for references?  What designations do you hold?  What seminars and industry events do you attend?  Where and how do you network?

You need to find someone to work with who sees this as a joint venture.  These people should have some skin in the game, advertising is not cheap, and doing the job right requires many man hours and perhaps paid labor, if your home doesnt sell, you are not the only one out.   Look for people with the energy, knowledge, experience, and focus to get the job done.  Make sure your company and theirs share some similar philosophies about how your account will be handled.  Evaluate them through the interview process: if they do not follow up with you, will they follow up with your prospects? Ask them to have something to you by a certain date, and see if they perform.  If they do not try to close the sale with you, will they close the sale with your prospects?  Look for integrity and commitment.  If you think they will be great, try them out.  A strategic alliance with a dynamic real estate company will pay off in dividends, commissions will be paid, and houses will be sold. 
 
Posted by O2 Marketing at 6/25/2007 4:54:00 PM
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Michelle Penick, Boise Idaho Real Estate Agent

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Michelle Penick

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