What do LA agents (and their brokers) do to earn so much money?

dockside_gwOctober 12, 2009

We listed our house with an agent in mid-August. One showing the next day, three more showings 4 weeks later. Nothing since then.

We have come to the conclusion that our agent, and other LAs, market themselves as much or more than they do their listings. Our agent has a lot of listings, insuring that she gets an income as they are sold by someone else. She is constantly sending out stuff to us and nearby homeowners about selling this house and that.

We are taking our house off the market today and will be listing it ourselves in 90 days (mid-January), after it will no longer show up as previously listed. We have sold, by ourselves, 3 of our 4 previous homes we owned. I figure that, for about $1,000.00 we can do exactly what the LA does. We will offer 3% to any buyer's agent or up to 3% to be applied toward closing costs if there is no buyer's agent.

Our LA posted a photo of the house that showed only the garage. She took other photos from different angles that showed a lot more of the house (they were posted in Realtor.com and MLS). But, who would look further if the posted photo doesn't picque your interest? Also, in Homes and Land, she didn't even mention we had 4 BR and 3.5 Baths.

So, someone else tell me what she did to have earned the commission had we sold. She obviously wasn't out beating the bushes to get the house looked at.

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Your agent gets paid nothing if the house doesn't sell. It is certainly in her best interests to do everything possible to get the home sold. But an agent is not a miracle worker, she/he can't guarantee there will be someone out there to buy your house on your terms. I wouldn't want to be a realtor in this market. I remember the good ole days when all you had to do was put up a sign and the house basically sold itself. Now those realtors did not do very much and earned hefty commissions. Realtors today are working their butts off and having a difficult time of it. Just my opinion though.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2009 at 2:26PM
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Well, there are agents that do a great job getting people in the door and there are agents that don't even bother to put out fliers. Just because someone has a title doesn't mean they do a good job.

Eventually, I think you are correct though. The internet has really changed the way people look for houses. If the courts ever strike down exclusivity for the MLS, many selling agents will be in big trouble. For now though, most people use agents, so if you want to sell, you need a plan to market to those agents and customers.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2009 at 3:29PM
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dockside: Our LA posted a photo of the house that showed only the garage. She took other photos from different angles that showed a lot more of the house (they were posted in Realtor.com and MLS). But, who would look further if the posted photo doesn't picque your interest?

You're absolutely right. I'm currently looking for a house in Las Vegas via the web. If that initial picture doesn't look interesting, then I just pass the house by. What's really annoying (and extremely lazy on the part of the agent), is when there aren't even any additional pictures. If I see that a listing has only the one picture, I don't even bother to read the description.

At the very least, agents should arrange and pay for a virtual tour of the property. Get as much visual info out there as possible. Tto give you an idea of what can be done to market a house, here's a link to the virtual tour that my agent arranged:


Here is a link that might be useful: Virtual Tour

    Bookmark   October 12, 2009 at 3:53PM
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Several FSBO sites have access to the MLS and Realtor.com for about $700.00. We intend to go with one of them. In the meantime, we'll be putting out a FSBO sign but not actively market the house on the net. We get lots of people going by who might be interested in seeing the house if they see it is no longer listed with a realtor. Won't hurt anything. And, then we have plenty of time to get things in order to list it, ourselves, in mid-January.

BTW, I told our realtor that we could do the same that she is doing for a lot less money and she had no comeback. Supposedly she sells a house a week (meaning, one of her listings sell).

    Bookmark   October 12, 2009 at 5:31PM
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Like that Mouse on House Bethesda!
Very intuitive, and less 'seasick' than many virtual tours.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2009 at 5:39PM
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That virtual tour was just great. I loved being able to choose the first floor, second floor or lower level to click on pictures. I get kind of seasick with those tours that pan left to right and I always get the feeling that the rooms look bigger in the tour than real life.

That said, I must have missed where you find the price and what the property taxes might be. Please forgive me if it is obvious and I just overlooked it.

This listing gives me hope that we might be able to sell our home in the next couple of years. Prices haven't been too bad here in Kansas City but they have gone down a little bit. We seem to have a more stable economy so the houses don't increase in price like they had in SoCal in the past.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2009 at 7:15PM
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"So, someone else tell me what she did to have earned the commission had we sold. She obviously wasn't out beating the bushes to get the house looked at."

You obviously did not do your homework in selecting an agent that would do the things you expected.
Having said that, I hope you now understand why agents charge what they do, when they get fired by a seller when the property does not sell, for lack of marketing or being overpriced.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2009 at 8:56PM
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jrdown: "That said, I must have missed where you find the price and what the property taxes might be. Please forgive me if it is obvious and I just overlooked it."

That info was on the listing itself, as was the link for the virtual tour. However, since I was specifically discussing the virutal tour, I just linked directly to the virtual tour rather than the listing so you wouldn't have to click on two links to see it.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2009 at 10:19PM
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What I was asking is, what do listing agents do or what should they do, other than taking photos, placing the listing on the MLS and realtor.com and other sites? I can do that myself. Shouldn't they be doing something else, something that I can't do myself? If not, why bother with them.

And, it wasn't because we didn't do our homework. We interviewed 4 agents. One wanted $300 as a transaction fee, even if the house sold. One had a part-time job. One was with a broker that seemed only to list low-end houses. This agent is a top-seller. We now realize that that reputation comes because she sells herself very well and her "sales" are a result of so many listings sold by buyer's agents.

So, what does a listing agent do, besides market herself and get listings and post them online?

I'm still trying to figure out the answer and that's why I posted. If no one can tell me, especially realtors, then it's obvious listing agents really aren't necessary.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2009 at 10:30PM
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dockside: I sold FSBO, and here are some tips:

I suggest the "up to 3% toward closing" should instead be a full 3% discount off list price. I did the same thing. I found that once the 3% was taken off the home price, the buyer really didn't care to go down more than 1% more off the list price, since they already got the big 3%. So basicaly by taking the 3% off the price, I got a 99% sales price, minus the 3% commission "bonus". I sold 2 FSBOs this way and both times the 3% was the vast majority of how much I needed to come down in sales price versus list price.

Also - here are some more suggestions

1) Get a custom For Sale sign from a sign company. This is usually under $100, often uner $50. Go there in person and they will show many samples of what they can do. Place important features on the sign (#beds, #baths, lakefront, dock, basement, etc). Plus your phone# on the sign, including area code. Pick a color scheme that can be easily seen. Also you can pick icons and even photos for the sign. go a bit larger than they typical real estate signs.

2) place a flyer in a clear flyer box near the sign. Put the price large, at the top and at least one photo and use bullet points for features. Put the full address on the flyer, plus email and phone#s. buyers will be driving around and might have several flyers so will need your address and a photo to remind them of which house the flyer is for.

3) create a web site that has several photos of the home,and also same web site basically repeats the flyer info.

4) On the flyer, say "for more photos, see www.websiteurl.com". You will find that almost every looker will have gone to the web site before they call or schedule a showing.

5) post ads on craigslist. Buyers use this. Place at least 2 photos on the ad. Refer to your web site from craigslist. It is free.

6) if you know where the buyers typically come from, post a classified in their local town newspaper. In my case, I sold in a large metro area with many suburbs in all directions from the city. I targeted some of the close-in suburbs, because buyers where moving from these towns into my further away suburb. That small town newspaper from the close-in burb was cheap for a classified ad, and also was not the big city newspaper that all of the metro area could get also . I got serious buyers from that small newspaper.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2009 at 8:01AM
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"...placing the listing on the MLS and realtor.com and other sites? I can do that myself."

Only REALTORS can market a property in the MLS and Realtor.com. Most homes get sold by local co-op agents who have buyers and access to that data.
Most other marketing efforts are secondary to the MLS.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2009 at 2:18PM
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If this agent maintains a lot of listings, she probably knows what she's doing;
it sounds like she wasn't very encouraged about your listing.

Maybe there's more to the story than we're reading;
maybe she advised a lower price & seller insisted on a higher one, etc.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2009 at 2:30PM
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I think the original poster got an offer, then countered back with a price that was basically approx 96.5% of asking price and made sure the buyers knew that this counter was as low as they would go.

The buyers moved on.

There is another post here about that, something like "lowball offer" in the title.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2009 at 3:54PM
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I don't expect that my LA will actually bring my buyer, I expect some marketing and of course the MLS listing, that is the real tool to sell my house.
It is my job to make my house sellable and to set the right list price, a good LA will assist my doing this.
Many agents are not good at staging advice, I've seen some that are good at marketing and negotiating, but lousy on staging advice.
A good agent will help you negotiate when the SA brings the buyers.
You can get in the MLS with a flat fee listing, and yes, you can do the final negotiating, you may be able to sell your house with a limited flat fee listing. Only you know how good you are at showing and negotiating directly with a buyer.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2009 at 4:18PM
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Here is the posters previous post...

"We have been on the market for about 30 days. The last week we have had three showings and all of them good. The last one resulted in an offer. The other two lookers (both came back a second time) were promising but one family decided to buy in the school district where they were renting and the other couple hadn't put their house on the market yet and wanted to wait until they did before making an offer (can't imagine why they came back a second time, if that's the case).
BUT, it was an insult. The buyers had previously looked at 25 houses and "liked ours the best". Yeah, right. We're listed at $429,000, a price that we feel is right in line with what has been selling around us. No foreclosures in our area. We are in a very desirable subdivision. The view from all of our rooms is fantastic (lake and mountains).

Well, the buyers came in at $375,000. No house, with our amenities and view and our size, has sold for less than $425,000. We figured that they are going around making low-ball offers and so far haven't found anyone that desparate. Well, we counted with $414,000 and told our agent that that was the lowest, we weren't going to waste time negotiating with someone who wasn't in obvious good faith. Sure enough, our agent called this morning and said they wouldn't consider it. They are going to low-ball another house in our subdivision (the buyer's agent is in her office) without a view. That house is listed at $399,000. Views are very important in this area. I'll bet the buyers offer $350,000, if that.

I know which house it is. I sure hope the sellers refuse to be insulted, also. By selling for less than their house is worth, they bring down the value of the rest of the houses in the subdivision.

We were so relieved as we were going to do whatever we could to get out of selling to these particular buyers if they met our counter offer. Things like refusing to pay for any problems encountered, etc. So, now it's back to finding a good buyer."

So, it seems as though there IS more to the story. Chances are those were good buyers and were only testing the waters.
So, let's see... your lazy, overpaid mega agent found you a good buyer in less than one month, in the worst housing economy in decades, and you have the nerve to come on here and slamming not only her, but all agents?!
The reason why your agent did not respond to you when you questioned her integrity is because we, as agents, hate to work for people like yourself.
Good luck selling in a few months when prices will be even lower, and interest rates even higher.
Your saying that if those buyers would have accepted your counter, then you would have tried everything to get out of the deal, really shows us all that you are a waaaay too unrealistic know - it - all.
BTW... when is the last time you worked 75 hours a week on end, only hoping to get paid?

    Bookmark   October 13, 2009 at 5:03PM
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Our former agent came by last night to get our signatures and stayed for 45 minutes. She brought with her the up-dated CMAs for our subdivision. All of the homes that have sold here in the past 12 months (6 of them) sold at prices per square foot higher than ours is listed at. No, she didn't tell us to list at a lower price. We listed at the price she suggested. Another realtor thought we should list at a higher price.

I didn't question her integrity. Where did you get that? She didn't do anything unethical, in fact, she called the MLS about a listing in our subd. which was listed as having been built in 2007 when it was actually built in 1993, after I told her about the false advertising (the house was for sale when we bought our lot in 1998). Those listing agents work for a company that I know has some unethical agents and will make a person who has been duped take their case to the state Supreme Court rather than pay for their agent's negligence/fraud. Of course, they lose. How do I know? I was an attorney and had some clients that were not well represented by that company's agents. I got to know a lot about the company as it was making the major newspapers with its shenanigans. Anyway, the agents, once discovered, changed the listing to read that the house was totally remodeled in 2007.

I have no problem with her ethics. Just with the fee that I would have to pay. There are several website companies that, for a flat fee, will list your house for 6 months on the local MLS and Realtor.com. Owners.com is one of them. Are they misrepresenting? Or is there something you know that they don't?

BTW, that lowballer didn't get any house in our subdivision. Our former realtor told us last night that they were lowballing everyone and she hadn't heard that they had been successful. If they did get a house for what they wanted to pay, fine. No skin off my nose.

Anyway, we left on good terms. She invited us to her Santa Breakfast that she holds every year and we said we'd be there.

But, as I said, DH and I have sold 3 of the 4 previous homes that we've owned. It wasn't that hard. The one we listed was hard as we lived in the country on acreage and interest rates were in the double digits. But an agent, a very good, one sold it. She actually found the buyer. She earned her commission.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2009 at 5:32PM
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"She actually found the buyer. She earned her commission."

Good grief.

The reason we *have* MLS, the reason some far-sighted Realtor dreamed up MLS many years ago, is because the listing agent doesn't always have the buyer, & the agent who has a buyer doesn't always have the listing!

If you feel that an agent "earns" her fee only if she actually personally brings you a buyer, & not if she negotiates with a buyer's broker on your behalf, then maybe you should market the house yourself.

& if you're going to try to keep from selling to a buyer because you don't like their first offer, or if you're going to try to keep from selling to *any* able, willing, & ready buyer...
if you're going to try to prevent your house from being sold...
why did you put it on the market at all?

    Bookmark   October 13, 2009 at 6:20PM
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Wwe put it on the market to sell at a fair price. We didn't get a fair-price offer. It's that simple.

The realtor that earned her commission did not just merely list things and wait for other realtors to call. She actively sought out possible buyers. I recommended her to many others.

But, listing agents, IMO, who just take photos, put them on the internet and the MLS and then wait for something to happen aren't worthy of $6,000 (their 1/4 share of the commission). And, their brokers are even less worthy. What do they do but have an office, charge their agents for the desk space, receptionists, etc.

The system is changing and the sooner, the better.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2009 at 6:47PM
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do you want to get out of paying your Realtor even if it means keeping the house?

What do lawyers do, LOL?

Rent office space, charge other attorneys for desk space, receptionist, etc.

& they get a pretty good fee for doing it!

but if I objected to an attorney's fees, he/she would be quick to tell me that it isn't so much what she actually does as it is that she knows *what* to do.

If you don't think someone is 'worthy' of your business, by all means do it yourself.

Putting down someone else for the way they do their job will not get your house sold any more than trying to "get out of selling to" a buyer that you don't like will get it sold.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2009 at 7:02PM
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dockside, it's obvious you don't have a clue how the real estate biz is designed to work.
I suggest you you do your homework. Good luck in selling your home!

    Bookmark   October 14, 2009 at 12:03AM
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I bet your home is somewhat larger and has better views that most/all of the homes in same subdivision that sold within the past 6-12 months. Is this the case? How much larger is your home, percentage wise? What kind of price increase is given for the great views?

When most of homes are smaller, they tend to pull down the value of the larger sq footage homes in same subdivision. Then add your premium view and you might be 15%-20% higher in price to the other homes?

Your value might be a tad less due to the quantity of smaller homes. You can't simpy price based on price per sq foot in these situations.

Let us know the sq footage, view premium and sales price of the homes that sold within the last 6-9 months and also of those that are currently For Sale. Then what is your sq footage and price? This needs to be taken into account when setting your price.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2009 at 8:00AM
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Hmmmmm well, I think listing agents do quite a lot. Some more than others but some of us do days of work just to get the home marketed the way we want.

One of the things we do is provide Video Tours of our properties. This one thing can eat up a day of work. We shoot and edit our own videos. My wife is the 'Tour Guide'. A 5 minute video I upload to youtube takes us between 5 and 8 hours to do.

Once I get the video uploaded then it is tied in with our web site and our local MLS. This does not include the time it takes to measure each room (required by our MLS), take 30 or so pictures. Edit those pictures and write a description of each one. Upload the ones you liked to the MLS and our web site. Write a description of the home. Put the sign in the yard .....

Hmmm are you sure listing agents don't do anything for the ZERO dollars you have paid them? How about the 3 months of advertising in the local real estate mag?

I think most folks have no idea how expensive it can be to simply list the property. I think you should do more research before you trash an entire industry.


    Bookmark   October 16, 2009 at 4:32PM
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My experience is that I look in an area at which agents seem to be the dominant selling agents in the area. This is usually a team that has the name agent who has assistants working with him/her. Several years ago we did this with a husband/wife team. The wife came in and really told us how to stage the house (didn't use that term but that is what it was). She spent a couple of hours with us. We did most of what she recommended. She also acts a lot as a buyers agent on corporate relos. The team took photos, let me preview the listing and brochure. Did very nice brochure to hand out to people coming to the house (also in a box outside). Did a virtual tour which was put online. Neither they nor I think open houses are that valuable so we didn't do. House sold the first day listed (to a corporate relo client of the wife).

Next house we sold we did the same thing. The agent did much the same (by then we knew how to do the staging ourselves so did before we even called in the agent). He persuaded us to list the house for about 10% more than we had planned to list it. We got a lot of traffic and got our first offer about 45 days into the listing. We quickly negotiated a contract (for about 97% of listing as I recall). The big panic was when the buyers did their inspection they found a fairly minor foundation problem (total shock to us). I was sure the deal would fall apart but ultimately we offered them a credit for what their repair company said it would cost to repair (only a couple of thousand dollars) and we closed on schedule.

In both instances, I thought the agents were well worth what we paid for them and that is exactly how I would sell a house again.

I just don't get the appeal of FSBO except in perhaps extremely hot markets. I think most who do that end up selling for less and have huge hassles.

    Bookmark   October 30, 2009 at 2:04PM
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