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Real estate part-timers: pro and con

From the Ground Up

The movie “Hollywood Homicide” did not get very good reviews, but I feel compelled to go see it anyway because one of the main characters is a cop who moonlights as a real estate broker. In one scene the character played by Harrison Ford hands his real estate card to someone who was originally contacted on police business. Hmmmmm. The movie just begs the question: Would you want your police officer to be a real estate broker? Better yet, would you want your real estate broker to be a police officer?

Although the subject of real estate agents working only part-time is not the main issue in the movie, it is a matter that has been cussed and discussed in real estate circles for years. One state even considered mandating that real estate licensees be full-time at their endeavors.

Like most people, I don’t really care.
What I want is results when I list my property or am in the market to buy property. So what follows is a list of things I would look for in a real estate broker if I were going to sell my residence.

Active in my area of town

Real estate agents tend to specialize in a specific area of town, especially if the town is an urban area. I would expect my prospective agent to know recent transactions and average home values in my area off the top of her head. After all, buyers will be asking about my neighborhood and will be more likely to buy there if my agent can provide information at the drop of a hat.

Member of the local Board of Realtors

There are over 10,000 people licensed to sell real estate in Mississippi. Only about a third of those are members of the Board of Realtors. Some people still think that a Realtor is the same as a real estate agent. There is a big difference. From my standpoint as an owner, I want someone who subscribes to a Code of Ethics above and beyond state law and I want a place where I can seek redress if my agent does not comply with that Code of Ethics. My experience is that people who are really practicing any profession belong to that profession’s trade organization.

Member of the local MLS

This sounds so obvious, but it is worth mentioning. In most market areas, an agent who is not a member of the multiple listing organization simply does not have access to as many listings or has developed the beneficial relationships with their peers who may be involved in the transaction.

Ability to communicate

This sounds somewhat ambiguous because it covers so much ground. I not only want regular communication from my agent about the status of the property and its marketing, I also want a good rapport with my agent. I want to feel like I can call my agent if I need to ask a question.

Uses technology

The marketing and transacting of real estate is changing fast these days. Buyers want to see homes for sale on the Internet. Not only that, they want a 360-degree view from a webcam. Agents who are not using the latest technology today are quickly falling behind the expectations of buyers and sellers.

Competitive market analysis

This is one of those things that every real estate agent should be able to provide. A competitive market analysis is a report that shows what properties in the area have sold for and what is on the market now. It’s one of those things that is so basic that I would find another agent if the agent I was considering did not provide it at the first or second meeting.

Real estate is the agent’s only job

Finally, I would not hire a part-timer to sell my property unless there was a very extenuating circumstance. I want an agent who devotes full time and attention to the profession.
I also would not list my home with a relative, but that’s another story.

Phil Hardwick’s column on Mississippi Business appears regularly in the Mississippi Business Journal. His e-mail address is phil@philhardwick.com.

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