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11 October 2009 @ 04:24 pm
$20k for what?  
We ran some back of the envolpe numbers and we can afford less than I was hoping in a new house, but mostly it made me mad. Every realtor I've ever met has struck me as lazy and sloppy, but as part of selling a house, they get 5-6%, which in our case would be about $20k?! for what?!

I don't know how bad the for sale by owner market is, but I feel like we're being duped here.
David Policardpolicar on October 11th, 2009 08:48 pm (UTC)
Well, nothing stops you from starting out with the FSBO market, which includes lots of sellers who share your opinion. If that doesn't work out, at least you'll know your broker is providing some service for the money.
Derek: home repairsderekbbell on October 11th, 2009 08:55 pm (UTC)
I don't know the rules in MA, but in PA, I think it 7% of the bid price. That means if you purchase a house through a listing agent, they collect that fee. The good point is that if you get a buyer's agent to represent you, then they have to split the fee.

If you're serious about buying a house and you know where you want to buy, then having a buyer's agent is good deal because they can work the neighborhood you're interested and find candidates for you to inspect.
Someone I am is waiting for my courageforgotten_aria on October 11th, 2009 08:59 pm (UTC)
Every buyer's agent I've ever worked with would refuse to understand what I wanted in a house and instead show me the houses they wanted to sell, rather than the houses I wanted to buy.
Podpeople. Benevolent podpeople. That's my theory.vibrantabyss on October 12th, 2009 01:53 am (UTC)
I will again point to surrealestate as an excellent buyer's agent, because she does listen, and will often ask questions you may not have been thinking of yourself. If you like I can get a list of folks she has worked with who you know.

When she does sell side, she has advised clients and prospectives which furniture to leave behind for most effective staging, when that was an option, and brought in her own furnishings when it wasn't.
Binkbinkbink on October 12th, 2009 03:46 am (UTC)
Which is against the rules, but there is conflicting incentive.
Bryantbryant on October 11th, 2009 09:01 pm (UTC)
Our realtor got us five offers within a week of the day we went on the market; three of them were above our asking price. She also made sure we had a competent real estate lawyer, knew all the little fees and things we needed to handle with the city, dressed up the house with her own furniture for the open house, negotiated prices for us, etc.

It probably meant more to us to have an agent since we were in Baltimore during the sale, I expect. But real estate is an arcane field, and it's worth some amount of money to have an expert guide.

There's also nothing wrong with going FSBO and seeing how well it works for you, as noted. Oh, and do remember that you can negotiate broker fees; nothing wrong with asking for points off, particularly if you use the same broker for buying and selling (and you can always do that).

If you'd like the contact info for our broker, let us know. She's pretty awesome.
Someone I am is waiting for my courageforgotten_aria on October 11th, 2009 09:07 pm (UTC)
She staged for you? that's worth something.

I'll let you know if we get serious about putting it on the market. She does sound worth it.
Bryantbryant on October 11th, 2009 09:56 pm (UTC)
Yeah, she was actually quite enthusiastic about it. She would have brought over books to cover the bare shelves built into the third floor, but we had plenty left for that purpose. She was also cool about being at the house for various service pickups (junk hauling, etc.).

I think it's one of those fields that's easy to get into, so you get a lot of not so competent people. Especially during the boom years.
Binkbinkbink on October 12th, 2009 04:03 am (UTC)
I'd say 5 offers in the first week indicates the asking price was set too low.
Bryantbryant on October 12th, 2009 11:15 am (UTC)
No offense, but without knowing anything about our situation and the tactics our agent used, you don't have enough information to say that. :)
Binkbinkbink on October 12th, 2009 01:40 pm (UTC)

Perhaps it was a special case. And getting you a price better than asked was a Good Thing, too.

And speed is much better than languishing on the market for too long.
Bryantbryant on October 12th, 2009 01:50 pm (UTC)
True! And sorry to be curt; you've obviously got expertise in the area. (Your note on how much the agent actually makes is quite interesting.)

In this case, we'd had to move due to a new job, so we'd have been paying the mortgage on a vacant house; there were also pretty significant psychological reasons to want to get closure from the place.

The trick she used to create a sense of urgency, FWIW, was to show the place but state upfront that we wouldn't be reviewing offers until a given date. This worked pretty well; people felt like there was a limited window and they had to make an impression during that window. We picked the offers we liked best, and went back to those people to ask for best and final offer.

We did set the initial offering price around the middle of what she thought was the reasonable range, specifically because we prioritized a reasonably quick sale over getting the maximum price possible. My guess is that we could have gotten maybe 3-4% more on the sale if we'd pushed it, but each additional month the place was on the market would have eaten a significant chunk of that. But she was pretty clear about the choices we were making.
Binkbinkbink on October 12th, 2009 04:32 pm (UTC)
The important thing is that she worked with you and got you what you needed and wanted, and not what she thought was "best" in her opinion. That is the most precious feature of a good agent.
Bryantbryant on October 12th, 2009 04:40 pm (UTC)
100% agreed.
seborn on October 12th, 2009 12:38 am (UTC)
I am not sure what buyer's agents do either, since we used Redfin (http://www.redfin.com), which does not provide full buyer's agent services. What they did do was arrange tours of houses we picked out from browsing MLS listings on their site, and act as go-betweens between us and the seller's agent. I think we still ran more of the paperwork riddle trail than we would with a standard seller's agent. They were not at all pushy, though, and will show you what you ask to see rather than what they want to sell.

They also have this funky deal with the commission, in which they refund half of their buyer's agent commission to you (the seller's agent keeps all of theirs). They keep a minimum of $5500. So if the total commission (buyer and seller) is 20K, and the buyer's agent commission is 10K, they keep 5500 and give you back 4500. You still pay a lot in commission, but considerably less.
Binkbinkbink on October 12th, 2009 03:52 am (UTC)
I took the training to be a real estate agent, and my calculations were that they make about $2 an hour.
We were expected to prequalify your possible buyers, make sure that folks tramping through your house were serious and not just casing the joint, find possible buyers who might not have considered your house, prepare the glowing words on the listing, take the pictures, enter the listing in the MLS (which requires the Realtor be a subscriber), find financing for your buyer or at least a broker or mortgage agent, and a lot of other things.
We were also supposed to keep you from offering it at too low a price, help you get the tinsel and sh*t adorned on the place so it looked good, make sure the title was clear, etc.
There is a lot of work in listing a place.
Buying on the other hand required knowing the market and helping the buyer figure out what they really wanted and where. The problem with that was that you could work with them for months, find the exact right house for them, and have them buy through another agent.
Binkbinkbink on October 12th, 2009 03:57 am (UTC)
Sitting an open house takes pretty much the whole day and rarely ends in a sale, but sellers' agents usually are doing two or three every week. There is the car and the driving and most of the houses they sell are less than yours. All in all, only a few make a good living at it. That is why Fluffy was only willing to take me out to all those houses because I was a friend. We knew we would see 100 before I found the right one and then the commission would be paltry.

So selling takes more work for the house, and buying takes more work for the customer. Since you are aware of the pitfalls (and I can help) then start with FSBO and see how it goes. Also read the real estate section of Freakonomics before you list.

Fashionable, but unable to tell fact from fictiontesting4l on October 12th, 2009 06:20 pm (UTC)
It's funny -- I've been away from LJ. I come back and you're engaged not just in the same process I am, but with the same thoughts as I have about it.

Every realtor we've spoken to has been lazy. They've run off things from databases and emailed them to us with a note on the top saying "Look at these and let me know when you have". In one particular instance, it didn't even include the stuff we wanted.

I have long considered realtors to be the scum of the earth -- worthy of shipping off in that first Ark (a la the Hitchhiker's Guide). I have yet to meet one who has convinced me of the opposite.