Monday, June 4, 2007

Does your listing agent have a buyer waiting for your home?

I started out by writing a comment to Heidi's post on this same topic, but my comment ended up being longer than her original article!

It seems to be a common misconception among some sellers that their listing agent will have a buyer in mind who is just waiting for their home to go up for sale. (at least in this market, anyway.) I know of one guy – a former client from out of town who has since become a friend, and who may end up moving here and joining our team. He came to me about listing his investment home for sale, but expressed some reservations about my not having a buyer ready and waiting for him. This is what we spoke about:

There are 50,000 homes for sale in the Greater Phoenix area, give or take. Doesn't it make sense that a realtor working with a buyer is going to be actively searching through those 50,000 homes in order to find that buyer the best possible home? Why would that realtor sit on the sidelines, and not help his buyer find a home, while he waits for your home to go up for sale? Unless your situation meets ALL THREE of these criteria:

  1. Your home is very unique, and there isn't another home which can offer a buyer exactly what your home can. This criteria alone eliminates 99% of the homes built in the last 20 years in the suburban, new-home subdivisions.

  2. Everyone knows how special your home is. Or at the very least, the realtor in question knows. Your home may be exactly what the buyers want, but if no one knows about it, they won't have their eyes on you.

  3. The realtor must know you are considering selling. Otherwise this is the same thing as not knowing your home is special at all – why would they give a buyer false hope if they don't think you're going to sell. Once your home is listed in the MLS, then everyone will know, but that defeats the purpose of trying to hire someone who already has a buyer.

If any of these three conditions aren't met, then trying to find a realtor who already has a buyer is similar to selling your home FSBO – you're basically advertising for a realtor with a buyer, but without professional help or the MLS on your side.

As a seller, you want to hire a listing agent who is going to do everything possible to help you find a buyer. But in this market that means more than just putting your home on the MLS; you need to do a lot of things very well in order to be successful. I've written about this before – read my articles on "6 Steps to a Successful Listing" and "Are your pictures worth 1,000 words."

Are there neighborhoods where the homes are vastly different, and a realtor might have a buyer who is interested "if that house were to ever come up for sale."? Yes. But I think these neighborhoods are few and far between in the Phoenix area – maybe Arcadia, the Central Corridor, the Biltmore, and the Historic Districts. But that's less than 5% of the Phoenix market...

- Chris Butterworth