Case Study

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Working with Realtor Detective

This story is a case study; it’s also a cautionary tale, and for Erin, it became the inspiration for Realtor Detective.    A woman, we'll call Amy, signed a six-month contract to sell her home. The woman with whom she signed the contract? Not a real estate agent at all, but a leasing agent—she had no tangible real estate experience. While she did have her license, she had no experience working with buyers and sellers.    This woman lacked the pragmatic knowledge that conscientious Realtors acquire in the day-to-day effort of building a business. She had no experience researching and pricing a home for market, which is the critical first step and can quickly derail a sale. In many markets, a home that is in good condition and well priced results in price wars. If it’s overpriced, it languishes on the market, which generally means the client waits a month and lowers the price. This is all recorded and it becomes part of the property’s history. On the other hand, if a home is underpriced, the owner is leaving money on the table, which means the agent has done a terrible disservice to his/her clients.    In this case, the “agent” significantly overestimated the value of the home--a common practice with new agents who are reluctant to manage the sale and the client. Since no one was looking at this large, beautiful home because of its pricetag, the “agent” explained that it wasn't selling because "only large families will want a house like this, and families only buy houses in June." This is simply ridiculous. Families buy homes all year round. Now June has come and gone, and a total of three families viewed this home in a red-hot market. No one came back or made an offer. 

Missed opportunities

Erin’s colleague can’t—or won’t--cancel the contract without incurring a legal dispute, which she’s reluctant to do, given the already unpleasant nature of this transaction. As is often the case, this family wanted to buy another house, but it was contingent upon selling their current home. They were dismayed to learn that their dream house had sold; they missed their tiny little window of opportunity to sell their home and make an offer on that property. The bottom line: You can’t sell an overpriced house, no matter how crazy the market is. 

There’s blame to go around

Certainly, it was the client’s responsibility to have done some research before signing a contract with a woman who had no business representing herself as a Realtor, but the so-called agent did a terrible disservice to her client. This family had their hearts set on moving into a new home, and it depended on the sale of their house. When you’re buying and selling homes, you’re dealing with people’s lives, so the stakes are high.    This woman had no experience negotiating price, marketing a home, or finding qualified buyers who were a good fit for this property. She put a few signs in the yard and figured she’d done her job, and she’d wait for the phone calls to roll in. Experienced agents know that those signs are just the beginning. They deploy both print and online marketing channels to market the home, and perhaps most important, they reach out to their large network of agents and clients who might have a client who would be a good fit for this property. 

The result?

Rather than signing closing docs, the owner and her family have decided that they will pull their home from the market and wait another year before attempting another sale—this time with a qualified real estate agent, thanks to the help of Realtor Detective.