May 7, 2012

Do you need a service to find an agent?

There are a lot of places that people go to find a reputable and experienced real estate agent. They ask family or friends, they look at ads and mailers, and they go on line. And Realtors spend a lot of money touting their services and expertise.

However, many of the recommendations, ads and promotions about agents are either unreliable or inaccurate. For example, has 'all star' and 'local expert' designations that agents can earn. However, a quick look at a North Dallas zip code brings up mostly agents who haven't sold a home in that area in the past 5 years. The site ranks agents who are 'pro' members of their site ( ie. they pay a fee to be listed).

Any site that requires agents to advertise in order to be rated, isn't an accurate reflection of an area expert. Anyone can buy an ad saying they are an expert or claim "I'm the best" on these agent review sites. Now there is a new service call that says they offer an objective list of top agents that have been verified to be "honest, experienced and professional". In order to be designated as a "Verified Professional Agent," a real estate professional must:
  • work full time in real estate,
  • have a clean record of ethical behavior,
  • have closed at least 24 sales in the past 3 years,
  • have at least 10 past clients who would fully recommend the agent to friends and family,
  • and have at least 3 competing agents from other companies who have completed a transaction with the agent and attest to that agent's professionalism.
Now that sounds like a way to really rank agents and separate the good from the claims-to-be-good. Here's the only catch. Agents must pay a $400 a year fee to be included. Sounds a bit like the other "agent review" sites. Granted, they are weeding out about 80% of all agents with their criteria. But I don't know how many of us are willing to go through the elaborate application process, verifications and pay a hefty fee. And do I really want to ask my clients to fill out documents for me and have them verified by a third party when they are getting no benefit?

As much as this new verification site sounds like a good idea to help folks choose a qualified agent, I don't think it will take off. A quick search for an agent with the last name of Smith or Jones turned up no one - in the entire United States. Since you won't find me on their site, just do what you should do before you hire any agent. Ask for my references and my track record. I'm happy to share it with any potential client. [where: 75230]

1 comment:

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