Welcome to the series of posts helping Introverts with buying a home, selling a home or investing in real estate. I tend to be an introvert more than an extrovert so I thought it would be appropriate to give some advice to others like me on how they can succeed in real estate without having to go outside their comfort zones.
When it comes to selling your house, the first step is the most important. You have to choose a real estate agent. You could try to sell your house yourself, but it can be challenging to do so and more expensive in the long run. To find out why, check out these stats from the National Association of Realtors. You also have a lot more options when it comes to selling your home today with many companies offering to buy your house without the hassle of putting it on the market. If you are interested in pursuing this option, you can do a search on Google to find the many different players in the field today. Be sure to read the fine print as sometimes their ‘service fees” end up costing as much as a realtor’s commission. Some companies will even let you “trade” your house for a new one. Just remember the old adage, if it seems too good to be true, then it probably is…
For those reading this post, however, we are going to assume you have decided to go the traditional route and select a listing agent to put your home on the market. You want to be sure to talk to more than one agent as there as many different types of agents as there are people. Some agents will be more structured in their process and procedures which helps you feel more comfortable as an introvert. There are plenty of agents that are introverts as well. If you want someone who understands your energy levels and desire to be in a controlled environment, be sure to keep looking until your find the introverted agent (keep reading to find where to look!).
How do you evaluate an agent? We like to use the seven C’s to evaluate agents.
Competency – How well does the agent know real estate industry and best practices? This one can be difficult to determine outside of meeting the agent and asking them questions, which you can find online by searching Google. A good agent should be able to walk you through the process of selling your home quite easily and be able to answer all your questions comprehensively. You can also use online reviews to gauge competency and be sure to ask for referrals from the agent. With so much of our lives being online right now, do a Google Search on the agent. Do they have a website? If so, look to see how they approach it. Do they brag about themselves? Or, do they share their expertise through their website? Is it sound advice?
Completions – How much experience do they have closing listings? It is common knowledge that only about 20 percent of the agents have 80 percent of the business. These mega-agents compared to the other agents is similar to large corporations compared to small businesses. There are positives and negatives to working with the corporation versus the small business. With the small business agents, they have less volume, which means you most likely get more personal attention from that agent. With mega-agents, you will be with a team with the proven track record of closing listings, but might miss out on the one-on-one interaction of one dedicated agent.
Cognition – How aware is the agent of the market as a whole? Agents bring value to the table by knowing the market’s current status. A good agent will know if it is a buyer’s market or a seller’s market and how long this market will stay in place. They should be aware of changing market trends in things like technology, economy and culture. If an agent is not cognitive of the market, you will be putting yourself in a position to not sell your house.
Communication – How and how often will the agent communicate with you during the selling process? Communication is the key to any endeavor and if you have an agent who only works certain hours and has never seen a text message before, you might want to rethink your choice. The process of selling a house requires an agent to be in daily, or at the minimal weekly contact, with the client. Ask the agent how he or she handles communications and make sure they know how you prefer to be contacted.
Community – How involved is the agent in their community? Agents are busy people, but every agent should be taking time out of their hectic days to give back to the community. Many agents will be active volunteers in a local nonprofit or serve on its board of directors. Other agents like to sponsor events like football and/or baseball games. In real estate, like everything else, at times it is more of who you know versus what you know that will get the job done. An agent well-known in the community will bring more people to the table.
Car Salesman? – Is the agent a real estate salesperson or a real estate consultant? Bottom line is that every agent is a sales person to one degree or another. The job requires it. However, there are different levels of sales showmanship. Many agents will insist on an accelerated pace to close the sale while others will move at the pace you are most comfortable. You have figure out your comfort level in hearing sales pitches all the time or having someone who will serve as a consultant helping you along the path to selling your home.
Compassion – How empathetic is the agent to your needs? Everyone has a certain comfort level when it comes to getting personal attention. Some people want to be treated like kings and queens while others would prefer the agent to get the job done and not worry about their feelings as much. Agents are the same way. You must find one that fits your empathetic comfort level in guiding through this very emotional experience of selling your home.
Here are three ways to find agents online.
1. Real Estate Portals – One of the best places to find a real estate agent is on any of the large number of real estate portals like Zillow, Truila, Realtor.com, etc. These sites showcase the properties that agents put out for sale on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS). Because of this, each real estate agent has a profile on these portals, which you can browse at your leisure. It is a great place to start looking for a real estate agent as you can see who is offering properties similar to your house. You can also read reviews of agents on these sites so you can see what previous clients thought about working with the agent. There are few items to note about these portal sites. First, the sites make most of their profits by selling advertising to agents. The agents you see in the list for a specific property will include the listing agent of record, and several other agents. These agents paid the portal to be shown on the listing. You are not necessarily getting the best agent for that zip code, just the ones that paid the most to show up on the listing. Second, many of these portals offer additional services to the agents for their advertising dollars such as calling a lead before alerting the agent of the prospect. If you fill out a form wanting more information about a particular listing, or agent, you can be assured to get a phone call almost immediately. If you prefer to handle things more structurally via email and chats, you will need to skip the portal information inquiry and instead search for the agent individually online, which is our next item on this list.
2. Google Search – In this day and age, every real estate agent will have their own website. Many of them will even have their own apps you can download. Since you value knowledge, it is a worthwhile endeavor to spend a couple of hours looking over individual agent websites to see how they operate and promote their listings online. If an agent has not spent the time to create an online presence of any quality, it is probably not a good fit for you as a introvert. You want an agent who is going to be able to handle things digitally. If the agent does not display good quality digital skills, you will probably want to pass on the agent. You can tell quite a bit about an agent by their website. Do they spend a lot of their website promoting themselves? Do they offer good advice through blog posts? Do they come across as being genuine or fake? If you do not want a used car salesman for an agent, you need to answer these questions carefully. You want to put their response time to the test as well. You should fill out their information inquiry form to see if they respond in a way that fits your own style. If it doesn’t, you might want to keep looking.
3. Social Media – The third option when it comes to searching for a real estate agent online is social media. Please raise your hand if you are tired of seeing vendors doing corny videos on social media platforms. I am sure you have seen your share and many probably set you on edge. Real estate agents have learned that social media is a great way to advertise their services to their sphere of influence (and beyond) in a very inexpensive way. Because of this influx of social media activity from real estate agents, many are trying to find ways to stand out among the noise. The video or live streaming we are seeing today is one of the results of these attempts. As with websites, almost all agents have their own social media presence. Social media contributes to your understanding of how any specific agent will conduct business with you and their personality type. It is a great way to learn about an agent before ever reaching out to them personally.
The process of finding an agent to sell your house should be comprehensive one, where you spend several hours researching and speaking to at least three agents. It is best to start with the real estate portals to develop a laundry list of possibilities. Narrow the list down by looking at their websites and social media pages. Once you have it down to three or four, reach out to them to set up a meeting in a quiet public place where you can easily chat about how they will sell your house. Finally, the winning agent should be invited to come to the house to see it and review the property.