On Sex In The City Carrie was always writing about her most recently escapade with members of the opposite sex. I always wondered how the men felt about going out with her, knowing that if they did anything out of the ordinary or it ended badly, it would be written up in her next column.
Well, now that there are blogs, anyone can have a "column". For the last 10 years I have been involved all things real estate internet advertising. I have consulted agents on how to use the internet to get leads, how to get buyers, where to post their listings, what not to do on a website.... Now I find myself currently in the process of hiring a realtor and trying to sell my home. Fortunately or unfortunately for my realtor, I too have "a column" that people can read. Hopefully my column gives you insight into what is going through the consumer's mind, just as Carrie's column gave insight into the mind of a single, New York girl.
At the end of every real estate transaction I have ever done, I always sit back and evaluate if I did what I preach so often to real estate professionals. If I didn't- I need to change my sermon! So this time, I have the opportunity to reflect and write about it DURING the process.
So here is where I started in hiring my agent to sell a investment property in Florida.
Internet is obviously huge for me, so I started by visiting all of the major real estate websites. I wasn't as concerned with what the agent's personal site looked like, so much as I was concerned about how much exposure they were giving their listings on other popular sites (although they did need to have a nice site). The three biggest sites I checked for agents doing EXTRA things online where Realtor.com, Zillow.com, and Homegain.com- as these are the most trafficked, non-franchised sites. I also spot checked Trulia and Active Rain. If someone didn't have multiple photos where ever the house was listed, they were out. The people I saw the most of these sites moved to the next round.
I know there are still a handful of people out there that use print. So I checked www.therealestatebook.com and www.homesandland.comand the newspaper's site for my selected agents. Again, buying the extras online and multiple photos was the main thing I was looking for, but I was also simply looking for a presence with these publications. (side note- it isn't always about how many leads you get from these sources, it is important to think of them as listing tools as well)
I then went to Google and Yahoo and did keyword searches on "city, real estate". More points for those that came up.
Then I went to the agent's personal sites and looked at three things: 1) quality of the photos of homes and if they were doing virtual tours 2) how easy they made it for someone to get in touch with them 3) did they have one of those eloquent long intros that ran before their website launched (out, if they did, no one waits for those) and 4) I looked at their listings to see if they were in the same town and price range as my house.
Two of the final things I considered were the size of the office that agent was a part of and experience. I don't have any numbers that back up whether agents with bigger offices do better or not, but I just liked the fact of knowing my agent would be part of something larger and could possibly leverage other agents in their office. I also looked at how long they had been in business. Honestly, a lot of experience said "seasoned expert to me" and under 3 years said "still hungry" to me- so that number didn't make a huge difference to me. Unfortunately, I didn't want someone who had been in less than 3 years because I think they have an artificial view of real estate since there was such a big burst, then drop, but I could have been convinced otherwise.
After all this, I had it narrowed down to four agents. I emailed all of them from their site. I specifically emailed because if they are aren't responding to my emails, they aren't responding to buyer leads.
Agent 1 called me immediately. While I prefer to communicate through email and I always think you should respect the medium that the initial request came in on and respond that way back, I did like the quick response.
Agent 2 said that he wasn't taking more listings at this time, but thank you for the opportunity. Fine.
Agent 3 sent me three emails. One with a list of all the homes on the market (it was too much for me to sort though, would have appreciated him whittling it down to homes that were like mine, but I got the point). One with sold information in my zip code, helpful. And a final one with his marketing plan- very thorough.
Agent 4 sent me an email response 3 days later. Out.
I then purposely did not respond to these agents for a day. Agent 1 and 3 sent me a follow up email within 24 hours.
Satisfied with their internet skills, I then called the agents to see how comfortable, intelligent, yet aggressive the final two were.
After all this, the winner was agent 3! I just emailed him all the signed listing agreement.
Hopefully this process I went through will be helpful to others out there trying to get listings. Hopefully it is interesting to hear how a consumer goes through the process of hiring an agent.
I'll be sure to post more insights along the way. I can't gaurentee that my posts will help you with the ladies, like Carrie's did, but hopefully they can help a little professionally.