Some resources will give you plenty of data on a potential agent, but numbers alone don’t give the full story when it comes to agent performance
Searching for a new home is an expensive, time-consuming endeavor, so it pays — literally and figuratively — to have someone on your side that you trust and know is working in your best interest: a real estate agent.
Nearly 90 percent of homebuyers purchased their home through a real estate agent or broker, according to the National Association of Realtors’ 2013 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers. Most buyers (42 percent) found their agent from a referral from a family member or friend; 12 percent used an agent they had used previously to buy or sell a home.
Further, another 12 percent used online recommendations during their agent search, with only half saying it influenced their decision.
So, what information do non-referred buyers have to go off of? Agents’ past performance, for one.
Using data from the Multiple Listing Service, the network of real estate inventory databases, some real estate websites rank agents via various criteria, such as how many deals they have closed in the past 12 months or how many listings they currently hold.
While such information could be useful, taken out of context, the statistics could be misleading, according to Patrick Veling, president and CEO of Real Data Strategies, a California-based real estate data-consulting firm.
“I’m against consumers having access to this data for agent ranking purposes primarily because if agents pay to participate in this closed system and the industry works against them, [the system] will unravel,” Veling says.
Jack Attridge, an agent with William Raveis Real Estate in Marblehead, Mass., says he has seen the “evolution” of MLS data. “We’ve been very giving of our data over the years,” he says.
Trulia and Zillow are the two largest players in the game of repurposing agent MLS information. Buying MLS feeds has allowed those companies to provide consumers with not only open access to houses for sale, but also how many houses an agent has sold and how many listings an agent is actively marketing.
For instance, an agent specializing in foreclosure properties may carry more listings than an agent working with individual owners. There are groups of agents who work on teams that may sell under one MLS number which makes one agent look as if they do all of the business when really there is an army of agents boosting their volume.
Attridge put it this way: “I work in the high-end market, and it’s just starting to pick up so my listings might show a higher market time than another agent working with lower-priced houses.”
Recently, Realtor.com had tested a controversial approach to ranking agents based on sold transactions as recorded in the MLS. The service, AgentMatch, used an algorithm to match consumers with top-producing agents in requested ZIP codes. The pilot program allowed consumers to track statistics like the number of listings an agent represented, the percentage sold and the average days on market. Launched in July 2013, it was discontinued five months later after agents across the country complained the association was pitting members against one another in an attempt to gain consumer relevance against real estate sites Zillow, Trulia and Yahoo Homes.
Using an algorithm to match consumers with top producing agents in requested ZIP codes, the service, AgentMatch, was short-lived and discontinued after agents across the country complained the association was pitting members against one another in an attempt to gain consumer relevance against real estate sites Zillow, Trulia and Yahoo Homes.
But numbers alone do not tell the full story. After all, do McDonald’s billions of burgers sold make it the best place for the best hamburger?
“Consumers think they want the raw information, but they need context and enough specificity to make it relevant,” said Leslie Ebersole, a Baird & Warner agent in St. Charles, Ill.
In the hunt for an agent? Here are some questions the National Association of Realtors suggests asking a potential agent:
• Is real estate your full time career?
• How many homes id you sell last year?
• What’s your average market time for sold properties?
• What’s your list price to sale price ratio?
• What are your specific marketing techniques?
• How will you keep me informed about the progress of my transaction and how frequently?
• Can you give me the names and phones numbers of your three most recent clients?
• Will you represent me exclusively?
© CTW Features