What’s Wrong With You People? (Part 1)
Let’s pretend for a minute that I was not a Realtor. Suppose I was a pizza maker. I make my pizzas with the finest quality ingredients. Organic, vine-ripened, San Marzano tomatos imported from Italy and authentic, hand-made Hoboken mozzarella and I cook them in a real, wood-burning oven. Let’s further assume I have multiple, conveniently located pizzerias and charge no more for my pizzas than mass-produced Domino’s pizza. How angry and frustrated I would be to see people eating those inferior brands instead of my competitively priced and far better product.
Well, that sort of how I feel when I look on the MLS and see people listing their condos and brownstones for sale with clueless, inexperienced and incompetant realtors. I know for a fact that buyers agonize over their choices when purchasing a home. They spend days going on appointments looking at properties, and spend their weekends visting open houses. They obsess over whether or not to make an offer, fight for every dollar during the price negotiations once they find the place they wish to buy and request every concession following the home inspection. They shop for mortgages at length, looking to save twenty basis points. But more often than not, they choose the realtor that they will use to sell what is probably their single most valuable possession based on the criteria that their kids play in the same play group as the realtor’s kids. Or because that was the realtor that first sold them the place. Or because the realtor is their cousin. People – these are not good reasons!
Choosing the right agent can result in a faster sale and literally thousands (maybe tens of thousands) of dollars in your pocket. I recently had a multi-million deal crash and burn because of the listing agent’s inexperience. (That and a stubborn, know-it-all seller who wouldn’t listen to the advice of her own lawyer.) But this rant is not about that one deal. Every day I see examples of bad agents doing a horrible job (not just bad, horrible) on behalf of their sellers and I think to myself – how on Earth do these agents stay in business? Why do sellers allow their properties to be so poorly marketed? Don’t these sellers realize that the poor job their agents are doing is costing them real money? Why do they hire them in the first place?
This week, in a series of posts, I’m going to focus on some of the more common atrocities I frequently see:
Bad Photos/Few Photos/No Photos – This is the one that baffles me the most. Perhaps it’s because my clients tend to be my blog readers (i.e., informed, educated, tech-savvy, young people) but I’m always fielding calls from my sellers asking if we can swap picture A with picture C, or get a wider angle shot of the living room, etc. Our pictures are well-lit, the subject is the property when it is well-staged, and they are professional-quality photos taken with professional-level equipment. How do sellers let their agents post dark, cluttered, out-of-focus pictures such as refrigerators covered in magnets, unmade beds and building facade shots which are rotated sideways? Some look like they were taken with an iPhone. An iPhone 3. It simply boggles my mind.
Equally mind boggling are new listings with only 3 or 4 photos, or sometimes no photos at all. Sellers need to realize their listings are only “new” once, and coming to market on all the on-line real estate sites, like Trulia, Zillow, Realtor.com and many others, with awesome photos will result in more buyers being interested in their property. If you list without photos or with bad photos, you’re squandering your opportunity. Even if you put bad photos up “just for now” and fix them later, you’ve lost your best opportunity to make a good impression.
And how about video? We were the first, and are still among the only realtors in Hoboken, posting full-HD video of all our listings. Note to agents – a slide show set to music is NOT a video. Do you think video is unimportant? Recently our buyer, who resides in Europe, made a full price offer with $1 million cash down on a property sight unseen based soley on our video. What do you say now?
Bad/inaccurate descriptions – Nothing turns buyers off more than walking in to what they believe is a 2BR listing only to learn it’s a 1BR that can be easily converted into a 2BR. Or a 1 bedroom plus den. Then there are the listings that call a basement apartment the 1st floor. Or a 4th floor walk-up on floor 3. I see this all the time. Some agents describe dingy, old kitchen cabinets as Euro-style. Or call a fire-escape a balcony. Whether you’re running a hotel, cooking a meal or selling real estate, the key to customer satisfaction is often managing your customers’ expectations. If you over promise and under deliver, your customers are going to be disappointed – even when the product may be right for them. Bad descriptions do just the opposite – set buyers up to be disappointed. Don’t get me started on typos and bad grammar. I once saw a listing where the description said the unit included “beautiful stain glass transients.” This may not prevent your place from being sold, but if your agent doesn’t know a “transom” from a “transient”, do you really want that person negotiating your half a million dollar property?
Stay tuned for the next installment of “How NOT to Choose a Listing Agent”.