By Mindi Rudan
If you even remember being a kid watching reruns of “I LOVE LUCY,” then you probably remember a time when there was no Realtor.com or Zillow.
The only way to even think about buying or selling a house was thru your local Realtor.
In 1988 Hank & I sold our two BROWARD COUNTY REAL ESTATE MAGAZINES, our first two titles in what would become a string of a total of 11 magazines we founded over the years to HARMON PUBLISHING. The then owner of the nationwide “Harmon Homes” Magazines (and the “Village Voice” by the way).
They were the bomb. In those days only REALTORS had access to the MLS. If a house was listed, Realtors could access that info but lay people looking to buy could not.
People relied on magazines like ours or newspaper classifieds or just endlessly driving neighborhoods they were interested in & seeing the old “FOR SALE” SIGN. Then you’d sprint from your car to grab the “listing sheet,” that was supposed to be in a weather protected box that would give you specifics like bedrooms, baths, square footage, room sizes and ….drumroll, how much.
Some frustrating (to me) Realtors wouldn’t give you the price sometimes either, hoping instead to “capture” you the buyer to show you “other” property if this one wasn’t for you for any reason.
That was an on-going pro/con debate. I was the buyer who would not call to ask price. But sometimes the ploy worked & a potential buyer with no Realtor would allow the Realtor they phoned to assist them finding their property.
In our magazines in the “olden days,” the Realtor provided the property address & a description & we would go to each one, take pictures, add their descriptions and our sometimes 100+ page MONTHLY magazines would come out with as many as 12 homes per page. People would grab them from outside Real Estate offices and look for homes they liked AND CALL THEIR REALTOR or the listing Realtor to take them around.
Today? HA! So different. Today you type in a zip code anywhere in the country that interests you and you can scan, discern and even buy a house without ever leaving your easy chair! Hell some houses have a near professionally produced music video of the property with actors showing you the lifestyle you could have in said house, with oft times STAGED FURNITURE. DRONES are common place. Every tidbit of info —ALWAYS WITH THE PRICE (did I say I told you so??) is there.
So why use a Realtor at all these days?
Well myriad reasons. One is convenience. There’s a crapload of paperwork to get a property listed AND ALL OF IT HAS TO BE CORRECT. You can’t say I think I live on a 1/2 acre. And you still have to put it on the MLS if you seriously hope to sell. And to do that? You must be a licensed Realtor. MLS is the gold standard. Reports are generated by a button push to all Realtors who are helping buyers find their homes. You can’t do that. And the Zillow’s, Realtor.coms & sundry other sites that parrot the MLS, come from the MLS. If you are t in MLS, you aren’t on those at your fingertips sites either.
It’s even harder these days to FSBO (For Sale by Owner). One reason NO ONE has time to comb street after street, day by day to see who’s selling. Most of us want to grab our phones & let our fingers do the shopping.
Then after the mountain of info that has to be loaded accurately to get it into the MLS is completed, a licensed, experienced Realtor whether you like it or not starts acting like a personal trainer telling you; NO MORE FRENCH FRIES. Not what you wanna hear!
Good ones however, will work with you, go through nearly every inch of your home guiding you about clutter, presentation and repairs. Helping you discern what’s good money spent fixing and what not to bother doing —and THOSE Realtors are armed with facts, figures and data to advise you and keep you from spending money you’ll NEVER get back, or by guiding you responsibly towards what you have to spend to get the best possible price for your property. PLUS most have reliable licensed people THEY TRUST AND WORK WITH EVERYDAY who’ll get you the professional job done at the best possible cost. Imagine having to FIND all the tradesman while working, caring for the kids AND GETTING THE HOUSE READY?
Then there’s marketing. Unless you have a roster of real estate connected connections, nailing up a FSBO sign probably isn’t going to cut it. Professional Realtors with years of community connections know where the right places to advertise are and have countless social media avenues to flood. Most hold Brokers Opens & invite their peers -/other licensed Realtors who cover your area daily and who cultivate local buyers to come preview your property. (Some call their “not sure what they want to be when they grow up” friends like me to cater the food & turn it into a party LOL!!—but I digress) and dozens of Realtors who are working with buyers looking in YOUR AREA stop by, see your property personally & return with THEIR clients who may be the right fit.
Then there’s those instant gratification sites. When every Tom, Dick & Mary wanna just walk in through your house, YOUR REALTOR vets them first. Makes sure they’re not just nosy or worse and are actually really looking and CAN AFFORD YOUR HOME. Imagine doing all that scheduling yourself?
Then there’s the comps. Your Realtor with the touch of a button can provide you with such specific information on who your competition is in the ‘hood. Knowing how those homes are priced IN COMPARISON to yours is GOLD! Price x square footage, upgrades, pitfalls, location. All things that will lead you to the SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT THING WHEN SELLING YOUR HOME: PRICE.
You can have all the bells and whistles. The drone shots, the staged furniture, the bare shelves with spa folded towels, with a FREAKIN’ size 0 actress cooking in your kitchen in a professionally “produced” video with PINK singing in the background, but if your house isn’t priced right, the Pope could ask people to stop by but no one will be buying and your house will sit on the market getting as stale as that piece of toast you forgot to refrigerate.
Keep your actors, hold the snappy background music, ground the drone. Price the house right from the get-go and let the real action begin.
I watched a very professional Joy Carter in front of my very eyes telling a “lister” what they didn’t want to hear. I saw personally how difficult it was to hear —much less accept —that what you thought your house is worth isn’t accurate. And the dynamic that can create in some unrealistic sellers.
And understand some Realtors WILL tell people what they want to hear just to get the listing, but in the end dropping a price and dropping a price is even more difficult especially when you are ready to move on, or worse have and are carrying two properties.
And then there’s the offer. Without a Realtor you are on an island without a boat. Kinda like Tom Hanks in “Castaways.” Or Gilligan for those old Nick at Niters! You are on your own. Toss in the inspection process and without an adept negotiator ON YOUR SIDE, you could end up TIED up in a deal for far less money in the end with more red tape than an unregistered crate of oranges coming into customs.
Having a Realtor keeps the personal out. And the professional skills you may not have in.
And if you make it through all that, and haven’t stroked out, now you have to negotiate a closing. When I saw Joy’s listing check list I thought “oh momma.” The things to remember for a successful closing made those look like a lullaby. Now you’re dealing with money, mortgages, taxes & government. Makes you want to open the wine just thinking about it!
Bottom line —most things to someone who doesn’t do them for a living look easy. (In my world everyone with a pen thinks they’re a writer). That’s another story. Selling or buying a home is huge. It’s most people’s largest purchase, most stressful time & more.
Find a Realtor you trust, then trust them to do their job. One who is straight with you from the get-go is the one who will honorably get the job done for you, not blow smoke up your —— (I was going for who-ha, but you fill this one in on your own) and will be the advocate you need to navigate what is now an even more circuitous path —Zillow or Realtor.com not withstanding!
To learn how to increase value of your house, get great professional advice on how to PRICE it realistically, what professional steps you need to take now and weigh YOUR selling options, please contact the Great Florida Homes Team at (954) 695-SOLD. They are here to help you sell your existing home or buy a new home that’s perfect for you, your family and your life.
Mindi Rudan is a professional writer over 30 years, a former magazine publisher, chamber of commerce chair, sometimes caterer, big time party planner, crazy animal lover and gardener & semi-retired charity event “giver!” …And tired a lot too. Follow her escapades on Twitter @MindiRudan and FB.
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