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Ask Dave

Dave Recommends High-Octane Real Estate Agents

Doug wants to know if he should try to save money by not using a real estate agent. Dave says a good real estate agent will help sell the house.

QUESTION: Doug on Twitter wants to know if he should try to save money by not using a real estate agent. Dave says a good real estate agent will help sell the house.

ANSWER: You should get a high-octane, high-protein, butt-kicking, name-taking real estate agent who knows their stuff to sell your home. That’s somebody who sells a lot of houses. When you’re interviewing to hire them, ask, “How many houses did you sell last year?” “Four.” Well, you got the wrong guy. “How many houses did you sell last year?” “Twelve.” You got the wrong guy. He’s not even making a living in the business. “Fifty.” Now we’re getting warm. “I sold 300.” Now we’re getting warm. These people are big enough to get freaking houses sold, and they know what they’re doing. That’s what all that means. You’ve got to get a high-octane, high-protein real estate agent.

When you do that, you’re going to find that that real estate agent’s marketing skills in conjunction with the use of the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) exposes the property to a lot more buyers than your stupid little cardboard sign will and your little Craigslist listing. Really. It will. So if you have 10 potential buyers and I have 1,000 potential buyers, who’s going to sell the house for more money? Me. Who’s more likely to sell the house? Me. And guess what? When you’ve got a real professional real estate agent who knows what they’re doing, you’ll avoid mistakes. When you make a mistake in a $200,000 or $500,000 environment, that is what’s known as an expensive mistake.

Price the property properly—if you price it too cheap, you leave money on the table. If you try to get too much for it, you’re sitting there paying payments for two years, everybody thinks there’s something wrong with the house because the house hasn’t sold, it becomes shop-worn, and you can’t give the stupid thing away. You’ve got to price it accurately, and you don’t know. The definition of market value is what a willing buyer gives a willing seller without duress. That’s the actual definition of market value.

Then when the deal actually comes in, are you going to negotiate face-to-face with someone? You think you’re going to hear the whole story? They won’t tell you that they don’t like that the closets are small. They won’t tell you that they think the windows are small or your carpet’s ugly or your wife’s mural that she painted on the wall is the ugliest thing. They’re not going to tell you all of that. They’re just going to try to negotiate with you by being nice, and you’re not going to get to the bottom and your deal’s not going to close. When you get a professional involved who knows how to do the negotiation and knows how to price the property properly and knows all of the actual costs that are involved in the sale so you have an accurate picture when an offer is presented, now you’re avoiding mistakes.

All of the studies have shown that on average with mistakes and with extra time on the market and with negotiating problems, a high-octane real estate agent, which is only about 10–15% of all real estate agents—about 80% of them I wouldn’t deal with—will cause you to net more than they cost you, so they don’t actually cost you anything if you get the good ones. That’s why I would use one, and that’s why I would—if I were going to do this—get a good real estate agent.