Do you know what question you don’t need to ask a realtor before you hire them?
I talk about it a lot in my book, my best-selling book, Shortchanged by Shortcuts: 44 Surprising Ways People Rip Themselves Off When Buying or Selling Their Home. If you want a copy of keep reading and I’ll tell you how to get it for free.
There’s a question most people ask, they think is important, and not only is it not important; it, in fact, is a little bit weird once you find out how it works, once you find out how Realtors work.
The thing you don’t need to know is, “Are they a neighborhood expert?” or “Do you work this neighborhood a lot?” or “Do you live in this neighborhood?”
Certainly if you’re listing the home, you could care less where they live. Honestly, it doesn’t make any difference at all. If they’re helping you buy, it’s important that they know crime statistics and things about the area. But, frankly, everything to know about the area is knowable online. There’s very little secret information that that agent is going to have.
Really no agents, certainly not in Seattle, has some secret lead on houses that aren’t on the market. In fact, in Seattle, in Washington, you can’t have what are called pocket listings. You can’t have listings that aren’t listed on the MLS that you’re promoting in any way. So Realtors can’t have a lead on secret houses. So a neighborhood expert is nonsense. You don’t need to know any of that.
Here’s why it’s a little bit weird. Because Realtors know that you are going to hire someone that you’re familiar with, that you’ve seen around a lot, like a neighborhood expert. So they do this thing called farming. They farm geographical areas. They farm their neighborhood. What farming to a Realtor means is you saturate it with marketing.
We send out postcards every week, and we do lots of open houses in the area, and we put our signs all up, and we door knock the area when we used to be able to go outside and walk around. You remember that?
But we saturate it with marketing so our face and our name as you think about us first because that’s a cognitive bias we have, availability bias, which I talk about in the book.
Our brains think “Oh, I’ve seen them” so they’re easy to think of and the way our brains work we think they must be good. That kind of nonsense.
We farm the neighborhood, so you think about us and you hire us because we are the neighborhood experts, which is nonsense.
What we’ve done is we’ve farmed the neighborhood. If we are farming your neighborhood, do you know what that makes you? That makes you the crop. If you hire us because you’ve seen us around so much, you’ve just been farmed. You’ve been harvested.
You don’t want to hire someone because you’ve seen them a lot. You want to hire someone because they produce the best results.
Far more important than asking if they’ve sold a home in your neighborhood (like there’s some secret to the neighborhood).
Better than that ask, “have you sold a lot of homes in this price point before?” That’s a better question. If you have a $2 million house, and this person only sells $300,000 houses, that would be a problem. They don’t know how to market a $2 million house. That’s a much more pertinent question than the zip code that they sold in.
Now, if they have a track record of selling in a variety of different areas, it’s even better for you because they sell to a lot of different buyers.
You’re much better off asking what the price point is, and you certainly don’t need to know what neighborhoods they specialize in.
Just think about it like this. When you went to buy the last house you bought (remember that?) did you ever talk to the listing agent to find out what they knew about the neighborhood? No, you never talked to a listing agent at all. So why would you, the person selling the house, care what the listing agent knew about the neighborhood? Doesn’t make any difference at all. It’s craziness.\
If you want other tips like this or other ways that people rip themselves off and hire the wrong agent and wind up losing money on the transaction, you can get a copy of Shortchanged by Shortcuts: 44 Surprising Ways People Rip Themselves Off in Buying or Selling A Home, I’ll send it to you for free. Just comment below that you want it. You pay for the shipping, and I’ll send it. Or if you live in Seattle, I’ll deliver it. Just let me know.