Do agents actually sell homes?

Let me ask you, the last time you purchased a home, would you have liked the home if a different agent had brought you there? Would you have liked the home if no agent was there? 

Just this week, I saw another real estate agent boast that “ they did it again!” They sold another house! These comments have always fascinated me as I have never believed that as an agent I have never truly sold someone on a house. I have certainly advised clients to make an informed decision but they, in the end, were the ones to buy or sell a home. It was their money and their decision, not mine. No amount of “convincing” should lead someone to make such large transaction if it was not right for them. It is important to make sure your agent is an advocate on YOUR behalf. Let me explain.

In the real estate world, there are selling agents (i.e. representing the buyer) and listing agents (i.e. representing the seller). Each plays a vital role in the sales process, but you may wonder, what do they actually do? Many sellers believe that their listing agent is going out into the world and using their persuasive skills to talk buyers into purchasing your property for the highest possible value. This is a belief that keeps the industry alive and keeps people paying high commissions to traditional agents, however it is not entirely true. 

Let’s take a closer look. The listing agents represents the Seller and should know the most about the house and what makes it valuable. In most instances, they make one-half of the commission that the seller agreed to. For the majority of listings in non-luxury price ranges, these agents list the home on the MLS, print some flyers and throw a lockbox on the home. They  also add “confidential broker only” comments and logistical instructions for other agents to show and sell the home. They use phrases like “Go and Show,” “Easy to show”, “Motivated seller”, “This home won’t last long” to “sell” the home and increase demand. They may get bodies in the door, but are these activities allowing the for the home to sell at the highest possible value? It is actually in the best interest of the seller to have their listing agent is at the home during showings to “sell” the VALUE – convince, persuade, showcase and talk the buyer into the benefits of purchasing that particular home, because the listing agent knows the home best!  However, listing agents are typically not present at showings and leave that crucial piece of the selling process to the buyer’s agent, who, I might add, is making the other half of the commission that the seller agreed.  Yes, the seller is paying to have a buyer’s agent negotiate against them and lower the price for the buyer.  

The selling agent representing the buyer plays a different role. They are doing the heavy lifting in the sales process which entails setting up showings of homes that the buyer may have found on their own on the internet or in the daily updates sent to them from the MLS.  However, are they actually convincing, persuading or talking a buyer into buying a home?  If you have gone through any type of sales process, you know that there is probably very little convincing or persuading that could be done if you truly did not like the product. Many buyers know immediately if a home is not right for them. Once you find a home (or any product for that matter) that meets your needs at the right price, you will buy.  Not because the agent told you it was the perfect house for you…but because you were attracted to the home. The home felt right and met your needs. You were telling yourself that the home was right for you. 

As a buyer, once you have found the right house, this is where your agent has a very critical role in educating you on the huge financial commitment you are about to make. Is this perfect home in an area where the property will appreciate? Is the home a sound investment for you? This information is gathered from many different industry sources – lenders, inspectors, comparable properties – and summarized for you to make an informed decision.  In the end, you were not persuaded or convinced to do something that you didn’t want to do. You made the decision. You bought the house. The seller sold their house. The agents facilitated the transaction and provided education. Either way, they did not sell a house. 

All of this begs the question…If agents are not, in the true sense of the word, selling your house, what are they doing for you?  What value are they adding to the process? Why are they making large commissions? Ideally, the answer like I mentioned above, is that they are providing expertise, guidance and resources to make sure you are getting the best deal, or on the flip side, the most of value from your home. In another article, I wrote that it can be debated, that the traditional real estate model also creates a situation where the agent is not actually in the business of selling homes, but rather they are in the business of “selling” home owners on the idea of putting their home on the market. Because without sellers there would not be a real estate market. Either way, it is important to choose an agent who isn’t just a “salesperson” but someone you feel confident has your best interest, rather than theirs, at heart.

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