My office is located in the Towers at Bressi Ranch in Carlsbad, CA near the intersection of Palomar Airport Road and El Camino Real. Although I help homeowners sell homes in San Diego, Orange and Riverside Counties, I obviously market a little heavier in the areas surrounding my office. On Thursday of last week I went around the residential area of Bressi Ranch in order to deliver a market update report to the homeowners in the area. As I went from house to house delivering the market update report I was literally astounded by the sheer amount of real estate advertisements left on homeowners’ doors and entryways. It was eye-opening to realize how frequently homeowners are bombarded with these materials. There were no less than 3 door hangers and 2 additional pieces from 5 separate real estate agents on each door.
At one particular house I decided to take a look at each piece in order to dissect the underlying message. All 5 real estate agents claimed 1) to be the best real estate agent in Carlsbad; 2) to be local Bressi Ranch experts; and 3) to be able to sell their home for the highest and best price. I examined each advertisement and decided to analyze them as if I were the homeowner that lived in this house. As I looked at each piece the smiling face of a real estate agent stared back at me pleading with me to call them. I decided to eliminate 2 of them right away. Both of the pieces were poorly designed and printed on cheap paper. I felt that if these real estate agents did not want to put more time and money into trying to impress me, then I doubted they would put the time or money into trying to market my home. So I put these two smiling faces aside and further examined the remaining 3. I quickly eliminated a 3rd one because the piece had multiple typographical errors. I figured that if this real estate agent really wanted to impress me he would have taken the time to proof-read his material. Now I do not claim that every piece of material has to be error free, but when there are obvious misspellings, and multiple of them, then this real estate agent was not an agent that I wanted selling my house. I examined the 2 remaining pieces, both of which were door hangers. One was a real estate agent from a large real estate company and the other was a real estate agent from a boutique firm. Both of the pieces were visually acceptable. Neither of them stood out as being extraordinary but they were not poorly designed either. I noticed that the real estate agent from the boutique firm also had a NMLS license (mortgage loan originator license). I decided that if I were a homeowner I would eliminate the real estate agent from the large real estate company because she did not have NMLS credentials. I cannot tell you how important understanding loans is when selling a house. Real estate agents that know how loans work are exponentially more qualified to sell your home than ones that are not. Why? The answer is that a real estate agent that has NMLS credentials will be better able to determine whether a potential buyer is a REAL buyer or merely a hopeful home-buyer that will not ultimately qualify to purchase your home. Many real estate agents present buyers that have merely been “pre-qualified” which is a loose term meaning that the buyer’s credit scores have been checked and some preliminary income documents have been reviewed. The problem is that obtaining a loan can be extremely difficult these days and lenders’ underwriters are looking at more than just FICO and income amounts. Issues such as length of employment, sourcing of down payments, length of time from things such as changes of employment, bankruptcies, foreclosures, short sales, etc. all ultimately affect whether or not a buyer will be able to obtain a loan. None of these issues are usually addressed by a pre-qualification. If a seller has a real estate agent that is able to ask the right questions and thoroughly examine the potential buyer’s qualifications that seller does not have to worry about accepting an offer that will eventually fall apart which will in turn affect the amount of time the house is on the market. The seller might also lose the opportunity to show the house to a real and qualified buyer if the house is tied up with an unqualified buyer. The best way to avoid this situation is to hire someone that knows how loans work so that when an offer comes in the agent knows exactly what questions to ask. I cannot tell you how many times I have eliminated a buyer based upon my inquiries surrounding a buyer’s qualifications with either with the buyer’s agent or with the buyer’s lender.
As I stood at the doorstep of that house in Bressi Ranch I looked at my feet and saw 4 smiling faces looking up at me from the advertisements I had discarded. I only had one left so, again pretending to be the homeowner, I decided to compare my piece against the one piece I had left. My piece was larger, more informative and graphically superior. My piece was more aesthetically pleasing (it was printed on heavier stock and was glossy) than the remaining advertisement. I then compared my credentials against that of my competition. He was a real estate agent while I was a real estate broker. We both had NMLS licenses. However, I was also a licensed California attorney where my competition was not. I brought not only real estate sales and marketing experience but also all of my experience as a mortgage broker and attorney to the table. I did so at no additional cost. In the end, it was not even a competition. I dropped the last of the 5 advertisements to my feet to join the other four. There were now 5 smiling faces looking up at me.
As I stood standing there on that doorstep in Bressi Ranch, I thought to myself, if homeowners really took the time to analyze all of the real estate advertisement that they receive the choice is really very simple. Owning a home is the largest investment that most people make in their lifetime. So when a homeowner goes to sell that investment shouldn’t that homeowner choose the real estate agent that is the most qualified not only to sell their home for the highest and best price but also the real estate agent that is best able to best guide them through the legal aspects of the real estate transaction. I get calls every day from people whose agents have blown it and exposed them to liability due to poor decision making, bad advise or sloppy work. No one realizes what could happen until it happens. Then they call me and say, “I wish we would have used you.” The best way to prevent that from happening is to really think about who you really want to be on your side if things go south.
As I proudly put my marketing update on the door of the house that I was standing at in Bressi Ranch I hoped that when this homeowner got home they would take the time to analyze all 6 pieces the same way I did. Not just for my sake, but for the homeowner’s sake as well.
I am still astounded at the sheer number of people carrying real estate licenses and the amount of money that is poured into real estate advertising. It is no wonder that homeowners become so callous to real estate agents and their smiles.