Originally Posted by Joan Herlong on September 29, 2023 (Original Article)
To paraphrase the late, some would say great, Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill, “all real estate is local.”
I don’t mean that real estate is a savage series of verbal sparring matches where diametrically opposed forces battle for power for the sake of the average person. That’s taking the political metaphor too far.
I mean that every time you see a story, graph, meme, or video talking about “the national housing market,” those things are about as helpful to your local endeavor as the average politician. Caveat emptor.
The only thing more local than politics is real estate. Nothing, and I mean nothing, is more local. I have learned and taught this in my 30+ years in real estate. Just because something plays well in Peoria doesn’t mean diddly to the fine and wonderful folks living in East Peoria. It’s THAT local.
Why? Here’s why:
Real Market Analysis
Perhaps the most significant responsibility of a seller agent is determining the right price for a home that hits that sweet spot that gets the seller the best price within a reasonable amount of time.
In any market, data-based pricing is paramount. While data can be collected about a market by just about any algorithm, it takes a seasoned Realtor to analyze the data. Your savvy local agent will know about a planned road widening, rezoning, the strength of the local school’s PTA, or other seemingly random things that could affect home values in the future.
Personally, I never price anything before I walk through a home first. A Zillow search or VR scan won’t do that for you, and therefore has zero nuance or interpretive value to add.
Local Means Local
This is my company’s own little exclamation point. We use Zip Code Pricing.
For example, my downtown Greenville, SC office zip code is 29601. Homes we list in that immediate area have prices ending in – 601. Other popular zip codes we sell are in 29681, 29615, 29607, and so on.
Since location is buyers' first and most important criterion, our Zip Code pricing inherently emphasizes location. Even our pricing works harder for our clients.
Finding the Right Fit
The unspoken real estate rule that should be spoken is that the Buyer Agents’ role is to help their clients find two or three houses that will meet their needs – not just “that one home of their dreams.”
If a client falls in love with a house—but then they don't get it—the remaining contenders somehow feel like runners-up. An adept agent helps their clients see the big picture. We’re guides, not matchmakers.
We don’t find our clients ONE dream house to love. The dream fades when the roof leaks. That discernment only comes from relying on a strong local Realtor who helps you separate emotion from a major financial decision.
Spotting the Differences
“As Is” can be a scary phrase to homebuyers, even some investors. It can often be seen as code for “fixer-upper,” which in turn can be seen as anything from a house with a rotted roof to a dated dwelling that only a mother could love. But a smart local Realtor will tell you that “As Is” could also mean that the proactive seller has professionally inspected the property before anyone darkens the door.
Why would a seller have their own house inspected first? Without a professional inspection, no seller knows the exact condition of every aspect of their home. If something troublesome turns up, the seller gets to address it in their time frame. If a seller foregoes the cost of an inspection and lets the buyer’s inspector undercover something scary, the seller loses any timing advantage. They then have to make decisions about repairs and costs under the threat that the buyer is about to back out.
Despite the surfeit of available agents, most sellers only confer with one Realtor about listing their house. Their chosen agent might be their next-door neighbor or their wife’s cousin who “needs a leg up in the business.”
Regardless of price point, selling your home is a very big deal – yet too many sellers tend to hand that deal to someone they’ve just met who hasn’t even competed for the business.
While buyers might tour dozens of properties before making an offer, sellers often do precious little “shopping” for the right listing agent. They assume selling their home will be easy, so it doesn’t matter who the listing agent is.
But if the agent and/or company did not matter, then all agents would sell the same amount of real estate. All companies would be the same. They’re not.
If you do your homework, you’ll get a better grade of Realtor when selling your home. And a better Realtor usually means a better outcome for the client.