Home sellers often cite “neighborhood expertise” as the reason they chose a particular real estate agent to list their home for sale. Often the agent boasts that they are the “neighborhood expert,” claiming more knowledge and more sales than competing agents. Sometimes it’s true, but more often than not, the agents are simply making stuff up to get a listing from you. Given the number of times we’ve seen this happen, clearly there are some persuasive and imaginative real estate agents out there.
Do they sell any homes at all?
There are agents out there who claim to be an expert in your neighborhood. If you actually looked up their transaction history, they never sell any homes in any neighborhood, much less yours. Ask them for recent sales they’ve made and don’t fall for these empty boasts.
Do they sell any homes in your neighborhood?
We’ve lost listings to experienced agents who actually do sell a respectable number of homes, just not in the neighborhood where they are claiming to be experts. Big talk about how much business they do in your neighborhood should be approached with some level of skepticism.
Do they have transaction expertise?
A real estate who lives in the neighborhood, has their children in local schools or loves to hang out at the local night spots does not mean that they are an experienced or competent real estate agent. The more deals an agent does, the more knowledge they gain, regardless of where those deals get done. The skill of marketing a home and negotiating the best deal are not dependent on where an agent lives.
All real estate is local, and there is value in knowing about properties that are going on and off market in a particular area. That said, in a large urban area, it is impossible to track every home that is selling. Real estate agents in big cities can easily get pulled into deals in a wide variety of neighborhoods.
Personally I find my own neighborhood expertise gets intensified when I am helping clients in a particular area and subsides when I don’t have active clients in an area. I also approach a neighborhood from a fresh perspective each time I have a client in that area. Just because I sold three homes in Madrona six months ago does not make me an expert in today’s market in Madrona. I need to visit the homes currently for sale and analyze the ones that have just sold to get a grasp of what is going on at this moment in time.
How to pick an agent
If you are interviewing an agent to list your home for sale, approach their boasts about being a “neighborhood expert” with some skepticism. If neighborhood experience is that big of a deciding factor, then ask them to produce a list of their recent sales.
Look for an agent with a healthy amount of transactions under their belt. An agent who closes 15 deals a year is going to be more knowledgeable than one who only sells two a year but happens to live in your neighborhood.
Lastly, I’d look for a personality fit with the agent you are interviewing. Real estate transactions can be communication-intensive activities, sometimes charged with emotion. Having an agent on your side with a communication style that meshes with yours can make the difference between a good and bad experience.