What's the value of a Realtor?

I don't often get chastised for my choice of career, however I hear all the rumours and get stories about "bad Realtors" when my clients are praising the work I do. I even had friends buy privately this past year, and after they had to see - and pay - their lawyer more often than they wanted to (or should have had to!) they came to me and said they would always use a Realtor in the future.

After having read this article in the Real Estate Magazine, I thought I should share it with all of my readers. I can tell you all day long to hire a professional when doing any work, whether it be plumbing, electrical, or real estate, but you have to make the decision about hiring someone.


Courtesy of REMonline.com and Toby Welch


Every Realtor confronts them at some point – people who are negative about Realtors and insist they are inept.

In 2010, the Globe and Mail asked Canadians to share their thoughts on Realtors. Here is a sampling of the replies:

* “Most real estate agents are glorified house tour guides.”

* “The book Freakonomics summed up that Realtors are in it for the quick commission, period.”

* “Ten thousand dollars or more for selling a house? Grand larceny!”

* “I have met and attempted to work with a couple dozen Realtors in the last 25 years. I did not trust any of them.”

* “With the pay of a doctor but the education/knowledge of a high school graduate, you wonder why consumers are so fed up with the services (or lack thereof) provided by so-called real estate professionals.”

* “My dealings with agents in the past left me feeling like I’ve just been “had” by an untrustworthy used car salesman.”

Ouch! So, how do Realtors overcome such negativity and stigmatism?

Goran Todorovic, the broker/team leader of Re/Max Preferred Realty in Windsor, Ont., suggests how to deal with such clients: “Ask them what issues arose that made the experience negative. Listen to their concerns and address each one individually with a positive response. Reassure the potential client that their unfortunate experience is an isolated event and should not reflect on the industry in general.

“Present them with a no-obligation option and/or the opportunity to cease the business relationship if at any time they are not comfortable with your services. Let them know you understand they are hesitant to trust another Realtor, however you are prepared to work with them to earn their trust and eliminate any lingering negative perceptions of the real estate industry.”

Numerous surveys have shown that many home buyers and sellers are unaware of the true value a Realtor provides. On the flip side, many Realtors assume that their hard work and expertise are a given. Since much of what Realtors do is unseen by clients, there is a disconnect between the two groups in many cases.

John and Nancy Deakin

Nancy Deakin, broker and co-owner of Deakin Realty in Pointe-Claire, Que., feels that if someone is dead-set against using a Realtor, sometimes it is better to wish them well and send them on their way after you make it clear you are available if they are in need of a professional. As for how to handle a client who had negative experiences with Realtors in the past, “First we would listen to their story. Then we would explain the process carefully along with the services we offer and use examples to show how our experience and network will give the client the best possible outcome selling their home. Listening to the client’s needs also allows us to respond to any concerns and to reinforce the positive aspects of having a Realtor protect their interests. Explaining the difficulties others have encountered allows us to show them that this is not a walk in the park.”

Jennifer Pinarski is a pro-Realtor convert. She and her husband sold their first home in Winnipeg in 2005 without a Realtor. “We chose ComFree believing that we’d save a lot of money. I was a marketer at the time and thought it would be a breeze. We were well over our heads. We had no idea how to price our house and just guessed, then panicked when it didn’t sell the first week. We dropped the price $20,000. The showings and open houses were monotonous and it was awful always having to be on call. Finally our house sold, for I’m sure thousands less than it could have. Since then we have sold one more and bought one more home (sold in Winnipeg, bought in Ontario). We used Realtors both times, and consider the commissions paid to be an investment, not an expense. It was a much more positive experience.”

According to a U.S. National Association of Realtors survey, in hindsight 70 per cent of people who sell their home themselves say they would never do it again and most sellers net far less than they would have had a Realtor been selling their home.

The complexities of not using a Realtor can be a huge selling point. Todorovic says, “Ask them if they have the time. This is a large factor and should not be underestimated. Can they take time off from work and obligations to show the property? Can they market their property effectively and efficiently when it relates to cost and maximum exposure? Do they understand the complex terms in contracts? Can they handle legal pitfalls that can arise when a messy contract is written, which could result in a legal nightmare and involve huge expenses to rectify? Do they know how to pick the market price? Are they aware of the process that is required in a real estate transaction? Are they comfortable with negotiating contracts on a face-to-face basis with potential buyers? If the answer to all of these questions is yes, then best of luck to them. Otherwise, call the best Realtor in town and get them to do what they do best.”

Gary Bazuik

Gary Bazuik, a sales rep with Royal LePage Coast Capital Realty in Victoria, says he avoids discussing being burned by a past experience and focuses on the fact that not all Realtors are the same. “I explain that nine out of 10 FSBOs eventually list their homes for frustration or safety reasons. A For Sale sign is an invitation for anyone passing to enter your home. If you list your home, only qualified buyers will view your property. Our MLS system had 1.9 billion page views last year alone, with each visit lasting an average of over 10 minutes. Your strong web presence will create the exposure you need to maximize value for your home.”

John Deakin, the other broker and co-owner at Deakin Realty, sums up the issue: “Unfortunately these stories exist in most businesses. Our concept is very simple – we tell clients the truth and explain that any advice we give would be the same if we were seated in their chairs.”

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