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Substance vs. Style

There was a day where a real estate agent would distinguish the quality of their services based upon their knowledge and experience in real estate transactions.

Today most agents no longer even attempt to distinguish their services upon substance. Instead they rely upon style to try to win over clients.

While there are many agents who do not fit the stereotype, I would venture to say that a majority of real estate agents fit the public's stereotypical image of one. It is a person in an expensive suit driving a luxury car with vanity plates that read "Realtr" or "Mony". It is a person with an enormous ego who brags about themselves. It is a person who is overly chatty. It is a person that acts like you are now their new best friend from the moment that they meet you.

Essentially real estate agent marketing has become much like a campaign for Prom King or Prom Queen. The agent is the "cool kid" who pretends to befriend the kids whom they believe are "less cool" just in order to win their vote. They pretend to provide real companionship and advice but the companionship and advice is hollow. It is intended simply to keep their vote until the Prom is over and once it is, they go back to being relative strangers.

The real question is: why do real estate agents feel the need to market their image rather than their knowledge, experience and quality of advice? The answer is simple, a vast majority of real estate agents have little substance beneath the style of their facade.

Instead of relying upon their own knowledge and experience, most real estate agents now rely upon computer programs, form documents and other professionals to provide the advice and counsel historically provided by agents. Here are some examples:

Price Analysis - In years past, agents used to pour over recent sales and comparable active listings to provide clients with advice regarding the estimated fair market value of a home. Instead of looking critically for themselves today, most agents now simply rely upon a computer to tell them the estimated fair market value. While this approach often results in faulty or unrealistic estimates, it is significantly quicker for an agent than pulling the data themselves and critically analyzing it.

Paperwork - Not too long ago, real estate agents had to generate their own paperwork for clients. As a result, they needed a keen understanding of the documents and their various provisions. Agents needed to explain the implication of each provision. Today, most agents simply utilize forms created by the Realtors Association or their office manager. Most have little to no understanding of the various provisions or the implication of those provisions for their clients. The forms are accessed via computer programs that simply require the agent to fill in the blank or check boxes. If pressed on all provisions in the documents, most agents cannot provide knowledgeable answers. Thus, the agent simply becomes a paper processor rather than an adviser to the client.

Knowledge About the Process - Most agents have never taken the time to learn how the process of buying and selling has developed over the years. Most agents today are simply provided a checklist by their office manager and go through the steps on their checklist. If a buyer or seller questions the agent about the history of the checklist item or why it is required most cannot answer. A perfect example of this in Vermont is when agents involved in the sale of a condominium unit request a copy of "Smoke Certificate". Had agents taken the time to understand and learn about the process, these agents would know that under Vermont law a "Smoke Certificate" it is not required for the sale of a condominium. Despite this fact, agents request it because it is on their checklist.

Advice of Other Professionals - Most agents today simply defer to answers and opinions provided by others during a transaction without ever asking critical questions of the professional that might benefit the client. For instance, almost every transaction involves a property inspection. Because of their cautious nature, most property inspectors will raise issues with the property. In many cases, the property inspector will make mistakes or improperly characterize an issue that causes a buyer to worry. Instead of questioning the inspector, most agents will simply take the inspector at his or her word. In some cases, this will lead to the buyer prematurely terminating the contract unnecessarily. At a minimum agents should be able to understand the advice being provided from other professionals and question the other professional if they believe the professional has made a mistake.

These are just a few of the many examples of why agents rely so heavily upon their style and not their substance. I believe it is time for the public to demand that agents start providing substance and do away with their phony stylistic facades. The agents of Flat Fee know the importance of substance. If you want an agent that will give you the information you need to make an informed decision, contact us .

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