Q: I’ve been trying to sell my house for the past few years and have hired and fired a bunch of agents because none of them was able to find a buyer. What’s wrong with all of the agents out there?
A: You indicated in your email that you’ve gone through a few real estate agents in the past. So, the questions we have to ask are (1) What has gone on with these agents and (2) What’s the state of the real estate market in your area?
Let’s start with the real estate market. If you live in an area where real estate values got crushed during the recent Great Recession, you would have had to have been extremely aggressive on pricing to get your home sold because you’d have been competing against short sales, foreclosures and other desperate sellers.
It’s not fair to blame your real estate agent if your home didn’t sell in that kind of environment. In fact, if the market in your area was terrible and you were unwilling to drastically cut your listing price, we’d expect that your home wouldn’t sell, no matter who listed it.
Because the real estate market was so terrible over the past six years or so, a large number of real estate agents left the profession as sales declined to historically low levels. There just weren’t that many buyers out there and the number of sellers far outstripped the number of buyers. It was an extremely imbalanced marketplace, and still is in many places.
That said, there are good real estate agents and bad real estate agents, you need to determine whether your expectations were too high or whether there were real problems with the agents you picked to try to sell your home.
Many home buyers and sellers have differences with their real estate agents, but most home buyers and home sellers are generally happy with the service they get from their real estate agents. Frequently, sellers are disappointed with their real estate agent’s service because their home hasn’t sold. Later, when the home sells, they think the new agent was “better” than the old. However, the reality is often that the real estate market in that area might have changed or the seller decided to lower the sales price for the home.
While we’re a little biased (Ilyce’s mom has been a top real estate agent in Chicago for 30 years and Sam is a real estate attorney and former broker), we think a great real estate agent provides a valuable service. In addition to picking up dirty socks and underwear before a showing (true!), a great real estate agent or broker can give you suggestions as to improvements you should make to your home that will help it sell more easily, will put together the materials (including photos, videos and printed materials) to market your home, and will draft the information that needs to go into the listing sheet for the home.
All this brings us back to the original issue as to whether your home was properly marketed in the past and the issues you might have had with your real estate agents. You need to take a hard long look at what happened and objectively determine what issues you feel weren’t addressed by your agent or where your agent went wrong.
Keep an open mind as your own decisions might have kept your home from selling. We’ve often found that sellers were given great advice that they were unwilling to take.