To get a listing, some agents tell dazzling stories about houses they’ve sold in your area. They’ll promise to splash photos of your home across the advertising pages of glossy magazines and blanket your neighborhood with direct mail to lure move-up buyers.
Critics say these agents are great marketers — of themselves. Photos in real estate circulars “market the agent,” says Karen Krupsaw, vice president of real estate operations at brokerage website Redfin. Mailers generate interest in the neighborhood — not the home. “It’s an avenue [brokers take] to generate business for themselves — using your house,” she says.
Furthermore, just because an agent does a lot of business, that doesn’t necessarily mean his clients were happy with his work, Krupsaw says. Indeed, the Council of Better Business Bureaus reports that consumer complaints against agents nationwide rose 22 percent in 2012 over the previous year.
The real estate website Trulia advises sellers to ask an agent how long their recent listings stayed on the market before selling, and compare that to the neighborhood’s history. Find out the average sale price compared with the average listing price of the homes they’ve sold. And ask how many other sellers the agent currently represents.
This way, buyers and sellers alike stand a better chance of enlisting an agent who’ll works for them — both in terms of a personality fit and a willingness to roll up their sleeves, real estate insiders say.
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