Did we make a mistake in choosing an agent?

dockside_gwSeptember 7, 2009

We have had our house on the market 3 weeks. One showing the second day. Nothing since then. A brokers' open house tomorrow (these open houses are rotated between closely located towns in our area and our town wasn't slated for one until 9/8).

Before hiring our agent, we talked with two others. One was highly recommnended by a buyers' agent, but after meeting with us he was vague about when he would get back to us with a market analysis. We had to call him to get him to bring it by. Also, his agency charges a $300 "transaction fee", even if the house sells. I can understand if we fire him or take the house off the market, after he's spent money marketing, but after getting his 3% ($13,000 or more) in commission? Also, he touted a homebuyer's warranty which would cost us another $300 plus.

The agent we went with is/was a top seller in the area. She immediately returned calls (very important to me) and has been on top of things, taking photos, getting it listed, getting brochures to us, etc. She is also paying for the homeowner's warranty insurance. She says that one other possible buyer contacted her after driving by and he had objections - too small a back yard for his children to play in, driveway not big enough (kinda lame and it doesn't sound like he even consulted his wife). Didn't get in to see it and we had to call our agent a couple of times to see what was going on.

So, we're wondering if we made the right decision. Three homes within two blocks of us have sold in the last 2 months so it's not that no one is buying. They were all listed for more than our house but were a little smaller or didn't have the lake and mountain view that we do.

What's your opinion? We think that if we don't have any more showings by the end of September, we will take it off the market and re-list in Jan. or Feb. Our agent was very strongly recommending that we list ASAP to get the maximum exposure during August and Sept.

The reason we're selling is to build. We close on our lot the end of Sept. Buying it in a short-sale and it's a real bargain (about half of what the first two lots sold for in 2007 but the developer wasn't able to sell any more when the housing bubble burst).

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We put our house on the market the last weekend in July. We had one potential buyer the first weekend and then two weeks later, we had a showing with a second potential buyer. The fourth weekend we had our third buyer come through the house and fortunately they liked it so we are under contract. We should know this week if the sale is going to go through. Anyway, according to all of the realtors we've talked to, this is a slow time of year for buyers. Families with children needed to be settled into a new home before school started. Now that school has started, the showings will pick up for a while before they slow down again with the holidays.

There are buyers out there, but there are a lot of lookers too. We've had a lot of cars slow down or stop in front of the house. They never came in for a look. Our agent said he got a lot of phone calls, but then they would say "Well, I'll mention it to my wife/husband." According to my agent, that was another way of saying they wouldn't be buying it. In his opinion, our house was probably more than they could afford or were willing to spend. It's also his oinion that people look at houses and throw them out until there isn't a reason to throw it out. Your agent wouldn't have been able to bring the potential drive-by buyer in because he had already thrown your house out of the potential 'to buy' list because of the too small back yard.

Maybe others would disagree with me, but so far I think your agent has represented you fairly. She can't bring in buyers that don't exist or don't want to see your house.

Good luck!, I hope you sell so you can start building soon.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2009 at 11:28PM
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Has anyone encountered the "transaction fee" due no matter if the house sells or not? This was the first I'd heard of it and it really rankled. That was the main reason that agent didn't get the listing. What gives. I read somewhere lately that when an agent asks for that, they are in financial trouble. Could that be the reason?

It also bothers me that one prospect said the back yard was too small. The only way he would be able to see the back yard would be to come on our property and go around to the back. And, all yards where we live our small, most much smaller than ours. One of the reasons we are moving is that the yard is getting to be too much of a burden for DH. Not that it matters. It just makes me uncomfortable that someone is "casing" our property.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2009 at 12:17AM
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The $300 transaction fee is how it makes you feel... shi**y! If he ever asks why he did not get the listing, be honest.
To me, it sounds like your agent is doing just fine... "The agent we went with is/was a top seller in the area. She immediately returned calls (very important to me) and has been on top of things, taking photos, getting it listed, getting brochures to us, etc. She is also paying for the homeowner's warranty insurance."
Your house has only been on the market for 3 weeks. That is no time at all in this market. Give her a chance. As long as you know that she is exposing the property to its' maximum, then give her a chance.
As far as your agent being slow with feedback from the drive by... most of the time, these type of lookers will not give any feedback. Cudos for her to get what she did.
And lastly, get ready for your home to be "cased" If you want to get a buyer, you need to let them "case" the home until they get emotionally tied to the house.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2009 at 7:13AM
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I wouldn't pay a transaction fee either.

Prospective buyers will 'case' your home particularly if they think you are not home. They may try to look in windows or go into your back yard if they have access. During showings they will open closets and doors, drawers, showings, etc. I'm not comfortable with what people will do either so when we moved out of our last home before we put it on the market, I put locks on all of the outdoor gates to keep people out of the back yard unless they were coming through with a realtor. In my current house, I've made sure that the blinds and curtains were closed in certain rooms and I have heavier curtains over the front windows. Anything of value is either kept hidden or locked up.

My realtor did warn us about people showing up without a realtor who want to see inside the house. His directive was to have them call him. Apparently, there are people who will show up at the door claiming to have seen the house previously who want to get in to measure the bathroom or another bathroom. Those people are looking for prescription drugs and aren't really prospective buyers.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2009 at 11:14AM
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The person also could have looked at your backyard online. I do that all the time.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2009 at 12:07PM
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Hmmm, top seller in your area who immediately gets back to you, is on top of things, got pictures taken and brochures made AND is paying for your home warranty VS an agent who is vague in when he can get you a market analysis AND his company charges and extra $300 transaction fee? Isn't it obvious? You made the right decision.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2009 at 11:58PM
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Thanks, everyone. Brokers' open went well yesterday (20 realtors and ten title co., bankers). Our biggest concern was no lookers, even when other houses in the neighborhood are selling. Guess we just have to be patient. But, when your agent, and all others, tell you the first two or three weeks are the most important so price your house accordingly, and we don't even get anyone to look, how are we to know if we have priced it right? No feedback from the open house yesterday saying the house was priced too high (no feedback at all re price).

So, we'll just wait and see. At least we have done things that needed doing and can enjoy the fruits of our labors while we wait for a buyer.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2009 at 11:17AM
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Honestly, you're being impatient. It's hard not to be in this economy. It sounds like you have a very competent agent, so give her a chance.

Lack of showings is normal. It doesn't matter if houses have sold in your area in the past. What matters is how long it took for them to sell and were they priced right.

Who knows, if your house was listed at the time of the other two, maybe someone would have bought your house at the time. It will drive you absolutely bonkers trying to figure all that out.

Don't give up. Hang in there and be happy you have what sounds like a very good agent.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2009 at 6:02PM
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Does the agent have a brochure out front, with the price?
If not, then likely the person that called was really just wanting to know the price, and was possibly a curious neighbor and just said the yard was too small so the agent wouldn't know he was a curious neighbor.

It is unwise to remove the listing for Oct, Nov and Dec, then relist in January. Why in the world would you do this...to have a "fresh" listing? There are serious buyers in Oct, Nov and Dec and you would lose out on all these possible buyers for what reason?

I heard of the transaction fee before. If is just another way that some agencies get more money. Some offices charge this for all their listings and it is not up the the agent in that office unless the agent wants to pay it rather than pass on to the customer. I think it is crap and you did the best thing - to NOT list with that firm due to the junk fee. If this keeps occurring, then eventually they will drop the junk fee.

I think your agent pick sounds perfect.

Hang in there and stay listed until it sells.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2009 at 8:21AM
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re: the transaction fee... when I used to live in Chicago suburbs, I would see many listings that gave buyer agent commissions of "3%-$250". I have no idea what that referred to at the time, but it sounds like your fee, just coming out of the buyers agent's commission instead of your pocket??

    Bookmark   September 15, 2009 at 10:45AM
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Dockside ~

Is the top-selling agent that listed your home the one that is your mom's friend? The same gal that took you out to look at townhomes? If it is then I would ask for a break on the selling commission since she will benefit from both transactions. If it is a different agent then proceed as you normally would. If it is your mom's friend then be sure and be loyal to her regarding properties that she has shown you.

Let us know how it all works out.


    Bookmark   September 20, 2009 at 6:36AM
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Robyn, I think that you mixed Dockside up with another poster. Dockside is not the one who is looking for a townhouse.

Here is a link that might be useful: Townhouse thread

    Bookmark   September 20, 2009 at 10:58AM
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terriks ~

You are absolutely correct that I mixed up Dockside with Hab1. Thanks for pointing that out to me and I apologize to Dockside for my confusion.


    Bookmark   September 21, 2009 at 5:57AM
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