2009 May 5th

Yet Another Realtor Blunder – Hope He’s Not Your Agent!

No Cellphone?iphone

I had a potential buyer call me the other day seeking information about a particular Hoboken condo property.  I was in the car but told the buyer I’d get the info he requested and get right back to him.  Being the diligent & resourceful agent that I am, even though I couldn’t access the MLS from my Blackberry (the MLS system being a whole other technical nightmare story) I called my office, got the listing agent’s info and then called the listing agent’s office to inquire about the condo unit.  The conversation went like this:

“Hi, may I speak with Agent X, please?”

“Ok, could I have his cell phone number?”

“What?  An agent doesn’t have a cell phone?  How does he do business?”

“I’m trying to get some info on his listing at the Shipyard.  My buyer would like to know if the unit has been upgraded or renovated.”

 

 

I kid you not.  That was the answer I received.  So while I was still stunned that there is a seller out there who would list a half-million dollar property in today’s market with a listing agent who does not use a cell phone or PDA, now I’m equally baffled by the second agent’s ignorance of a significant Hoboken complex.  ALL the units at the Shipyard had granite counters when they were first built years ago.  Saying that the unit has granite was meaningless.  I asked him some specifics, like whether the floors parquet wooden square tile (original) or plank (renovated);  the appliances white (original) or stainless (renovated); whether there was still a popcorn ceiling (original) or a smooth one (renovated); did the bathroom have a row of globe bulbs over the sink (original) or something else.  It turns out that the unit was not upgraded or renovated at all.  This is an office with a single location – Hoboken.  You would think they would have better knowledge of their Hoboken condo inventory!

I hope if you are trying to sell your Hoboken condo, you interview your potential listing agent and don’t just go with the lady who sold it to you 10 years ago, or the buddy you have beers with on Friday nights.  I’m often amazed at the number of listings that go to certain brokerages simply because they’ve been around a long time yet the agents have skills that date back to the 1980’s.  Something like having a cell phone is mandatory.  Knowing how to send an email in a format that can easily be read on an iPhone or Blackberry is necessary.  Proficiency with technology is everything when buyers turn to the internet before they talk to an agent.  With the number of units for sale creeping up all the time while sales continue to fall off you need every possible competitive advantage to sell your property.  I predict that agents who don’t excel at efficient and innovative use of today’s tools will soon be directing you to the corn flakes in aisle 3 or asking if you’d like fries with that burger.  No cell phone?  No listing.

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  1. Tiger

    Wow. I can’t help but wonder what people are thinking. Here’s a question for you; is the unit owner occupied or is it vacant? My guess is owner occupied, or rented. In this time and age, I highly doubt anyone living in a relatively new building like the Shipyard doesn’t know the importance of a cellphone. I don’t think that person is looking to sell.

  2. Andy

    Agree fully Tiger. I hope that this downturn will do us all a favor and get rid of these crappy agents in town. I’ve always said that this town has too many – nail salons and realtors. Fron what I read above the listing agents office couldn’t care less about trying to close the deal. What a frustrating mess. Lori you are a better person than I.

  3. Lori Turoff

    Did I mention that there are NO PHOTOS on the listing? Can you imagine? How does an agent put a listing on the MLS without pictures? And this in a building where there are multiple units for sale. Those owners are really missing the boat. Do they think they will be able to sell their unit when there are two other 2brs listed for less than theirs?

    Well, the old, run-down nail salons are closing as the pretty, new ones (like Bloom) open. If the same think would happen in real estate and the competent, tech-savvy agents/agencies remained we’d all be better off. Problem is, many of the ‘old-timers’ own rather than rent their office space (and sometimes the entire building) so they have very low overhead and they are connected to the powers-that-be in City Hall and with local developers. Prime example of strange bedfellows: Michelle Russo (connected to ex-mayor Anthony Russo) was an agent at Riverside Realty when Tarragon Ursa built the Upper Grand and she was the exclusive sales agent for a while. And so it goes in Hoboken. DON’T FORGET TO VOTE ON TUESDAY!

    I’m afraid we’re stuck with the dead wood for a while longer.

  4. Tiger

    Well – are you sure they want to sell? I am pretty sure something is up. Maybe this is a non-amicable divorce settlement? part of some sort of financial arrangement (that the owner obviously wants to slow down)? or plain old seller feeling the market?

    As for the Russos, I will withhold comments.

  5. homeboken

    Can someone explain the logic of “seller feeling the market?”

    I hear this trendy phrase thrown around all the time. “The seller’s don’t need to sell.” “We are just testing the market.”

    Why waste your time? Why waste your realtor’s time, why waste potential buyer’s time?

    Personally, I don’t for one second beleive that there is such a thing as testing the market. I 100% beleive that people would like to sell, but rather than accept an offer lower than their expectations, they pull this catch-phrase out and bury their head in the sand once more.

  6. D$

    Another commission-based group – investment bankers – are generally increasing the amount of retainer fees (due up front) that could be credited against success fees (due at closing). The reason for this is the increased uncertainty of a transaction being completed quickly in this environment. Sounds familiar, right?

    I think if realtor charged a 0.25% up-front fee (e.g., $1,000 on a a $400,000 listing) to list a property (that can be credited later against the commission due at closing), that might help limit the number of frivolous listings that are clogging an already hurting market.

  7. Lori Turoff

    “Testing the market” means they list to see what kind of interest they get before they start looking for a new home elsewhere. No bites – stay put. Lots of showings, start house hunting.

    The only way the retainer fee model would work is if every agent were forced to charge the same fee. There might be some anti-trust issues with that, no? As long as one ageny were willing to list for free, the frivolous listings remain. Similarly, as long as one desperate agent is willing to take an overpriced listing from a wishy-washy, unrealistic seller, they will keep hitting the market.

  8. Tiger

    homeboken, I heard that phase too when I was shopping for a condo. I agree with you, anyone who has a condo listed probably would sell it if they get the price they have in mind.

    The problem is that they waste the buyers time, agents’ time and resources, and of course their own. Of course, they also clog the market with inventory. Oh well.

  9. Andy

    Makes sense now why we have so many crappy real estate offices in town if they mostly own the office space. There’s one(not necessarily crappy at all) across the street from my apt building. I see someone in there maybe once a week. I never see them with listings in town and they are hardly ever open. My friends used to joke that it was a mafia front. Must be nice to be so rich…

  10. dkzzzz

    IMHO, nothing will change in RE world in regards to agents. If anything, this recession will bring more inexperienced and unmotivated people with no prospects of real job into RE industry. We not going to magically get rid of all college drop outs who have no skills or brains and decide to sell something (why not RE). We also never going to get rid of lazy house wives who become RE agents as an excuse for doing next to nothing.
    Professional, honest and knowledgeable RE agents are one in a million.

  11. Dan Simon - Charleston SC Real Estate

    Thanks for sharing – pretty amazing stuff. As a full time Realtor in Charleston SC every day is a new experience. I have often called listing agents with a question or two, several times I get a short answer saying something like “I can’t talk now I am at work”. Like any profession, there are good Realtors & there are not so good Realtors. Do some research, ask for references or ask your friends, family and co-workers for recommendations. A Realtor serves as a your advocate, advisor, negotiator and confidante throughout the real estate transaction – find one that you can count on!

  12. calvin

    where’s our weekly roundup lori!? :-)

  13. lori

    dzzzzz – a little harsh, no? Every career sector has good and bad. Let me tell you about some of the attorneys I used to work with! The thing about commission sales is that if you stink at it you don’t make any money so you can’t survive. That’s why I think many of the incompetent agents will move on – none too soon.

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