Unpopular Opinion: I think everyone needs to invest in a real estate course and learn what they need to know to do what they want to do – rent, own, invest, etc. – in their local market. This doesn’t mean you have to represent yourself in your deals. It does however, make it more likely for you to know when and how you are not being well represented.
I had four listing agents for my first resale in NYC. During the tenure of three of the agents, I was in real estate school in AZ. I had literally gone along with things suggested by the agents that I assumed was a ”professional knowledge” thing, that was nothing of the sort. Real estate agents are just people with their own opinions and biases just like you. More than likely, they are more concerned with their best interests than yours. Who knows what they consider to be their best interest on any given day dealing with you?
I’m absolutely certain there are excellent real estate agents in the world who truly strive to be good representatives of their clients and are respectful counterparts in a transaction. I have not had the honor of working with one. In either of the two states, I’ve bought and sold homes in.
FSBO’s (for sale by owner) are laughed at by professionals. They’re derided. As an agent selling my own property, I was scoffed at repeatedly. Another agent actually told me it was illegal for an agent to sell their own property. It’s not. One of my former brokerages made it impossible to remain with the agency if you sell on your own instead of listing with them. The average homeowner has the option to sell their own home or hire someone to do it for them, but a real estate agent can only sell through their agency? Nah. I didn’t get into real estate to have my options restricted. On property I own.
What I will tell you as a new agent with a clientele of one, myself, I am my best representative. I was the best representative of my properties. No one know the home better than the homeowner. Even if you work with an agent, your job is to make sure they market your property well. Only one agent of the six I’ve worked with got a better number for me than I got for myself, but she didn’t close the deal. She dropped the ball and told me to my face face, in front of her broker, that she did her job my getting me the offer. With my limited real estate knowledge (still in RE school at that point), I told her, “Your job is to close the deal.”
Agents don’t get paid for offers. They get paid when their brokers get paid. Their brokers get paid at closing. No close, no pay.
I went through two more agents after her before getting my license in NY, joining an agency and listing my own property. Listing with your brokerage as an owner/agent does have some benefits. In New York City, there’s no public MLS. Agencies market properties to each other. Agents build networks and databases for marketing units or buildings. It’s easier to be seen via an agency’s platform. I was in contract within a few weeks of listing my own property with my agency. The buyer had expressed interest to one of my former listing agents. Had even made a low offer, which I rejected. When I relisted my property, they reached out again and we met in the middle on price.
For my AZ resale, I had one agent before delisting and going FSBO. He fielded an offer. It was low. I nudged him to follow up. I got the sense he thought I was being unrealistic in my expectations. Honestly, I think he was going by the book. He was focused on comps and the comps on the block didn’t support my pricing. This is where personal knowledge of your property and neighborhood comes in.
The two recent sells on my street hd been quick and urgent. The first one may have been fear of market collapse or perhaps the owner was over-extended. A lot of homes in this community are second homes before they become primary residences.
The second home that sold under market felt trapped by the comp of the first sale. They were also on contingency with the builder for a larger home down the street. They were at risk of losing the lot they wanted, so they were desperate to close fast.
I wasn’t in a hurry. I had a low number I didn’t want to go below. The offer my agent got was about $30k below ask and $20k below my low number at the time. The house wasn’t showing, meaning either agents weren’t aware it was available or it simply wasn’t being shared/marketed by y agent. Tucson had very low inventory at this time. Other properties in the area were getting offers within a week of listing. I stayed listed for three months before canceling the listing. I rested during the holidays and relisted on Zillow in January.
The offer I accepted came in $500 below my floor and $10,000 below my ask. Decent numbers but not the best for the times. I hadn’t kept my eye on the market. The absolute lack of inventory in the Metro Tucson area meant I could’ve netted $30-50k above my ask had I been more patient and discerning. As it was, the offer I closed on was $30,000 higher than the offer my agent brought me months prior and $9,500 higher than the highest cash offer from a corporate cash buyer. Not to mention the 4-5% commission fees saved for any of the offers.
Representing myself has earned and saved me tens of thousands of dollars per transaction. Because proof is in the pudding, I don’t see myself using an agent unless it’s absolutely beneficial to me.
For example, I’m planning on buying investment properties in a state I’ve never owned in before. The properties are city-owned, deeply discounted and comes with performance requirements. The city also requires licensed agents to process the application. No problem. I’ll hire an agent. The city as the seller, pays the agent’s fee. If I choose well, I may have someone to navigate a new market with me. If my agent streak continues as it has been, then I’ll have another cautionary tale.
Speaking of cautionary tales, the buyers of my AZ home and their agents are intergalactic level assholes. Like truly, I’ve never encountered the audacious level of disrespect and entitlement as these four individuals exhibited throughout the course of the transaction. I already shared their numbers were within spitting distance of my range, so in my mind,not enough to to trash the deal over. However, their treatment of me was so insulting, I asked them to cancel the contract twice. I simply was not comfortable dealing with them. In Arizona, sellers can’t cancel purchase contracts unless there’s outright fraud. I suspected they were misrepresenting themselves and their intentions but it didn’t amount to the level of fraud. Essentially, I asked repeatedly for verification of identity and funds. Their agent ignored my requests. I ended up contacting their banker, whom I don’t know and who could say anything on the phone, but he claimed they were legit and he had verified identity and funds. He also forwarded a chain of emails which mollified me a bit. I was assured by my broker at the time that the title process would shake loose any discrepancies. Title was a breeze. These people weren’t.
Because of this experience, the next home I sell for myself, I will not pay for the buyers agent. If I am FSBO, and the buyer wants an agent, then the buyer can pay for their own agent. In my mind, I paid money for licensed professionals to disrespect me during the resale of my AZ home. The state board says their behavior (more than shared here) is neither an ethics violation or a professional standards violation. One broker told me this is what I get for representing myself. Another said, next time you’ll hire someone to represent you, won’t you? Yet another said, why don’t you believe in the system? Each of these people make money off of agents listing and closing properties with their firms. That’s the only way they remain profitable entities. Me selling outside of the agency is of no value to them. That’s a blaring intrinsic bias. I had to stop and ask myself, “Who does their advice benefit?” Then more specifically, “How does this advice benefit me?” It didn’t. So I had to continue to move in a way that benefited me. Honestly, this is how I’ll be moving for the foreseeable future.