How to Select a Real Estate Agent in Chicagoland?
In January of 2017 Midwest Real Estate Data (MRED) reported 36,038 active real estate agent using the Multiple Listing Service, or at least paying for service. Chicago Association of Realtors (CAR) alone has 11,500 members and several other associations have around 3.5k each. All with a potential 20k-30k agents working in the greater Chicagoland, how the heck are you suppose to pick an agent?
A recent article in the Chicago Tribune Does Your Real Estate Agent Measure Up? 7 Questions To Ask Before You Commit by Nicholas Padiak asks some great questions and us being the proactive type decided to give you our responses to those questions.
How long have you been in the business?
We’ve been building our business together for almost a year, but have 11 years of real estate industry experience as well as a combine three decades of customer service.
Walker started his career in real estate at the bottom of the market back in 2008 with the commercial real estate firm Marcus & Millichap, and after 7 years left corporate America and decided to venture off on his own becoming a managing broker in 2012 and then joining RE/MAX Edge in 2013. Mark was managing of a successful chain of eateries in the North Shore from 2006-2016, and with an eye for design and pressure from many real estate colleagues, he decided to venture off on his own and partner up with Walker in late 2016 to build a real estate team focused on North Side and North Shore properties (after-all it’s what we know best).
We always say, sometimes the thirst and drive we have as agents give our sellers an additional white glove level of service. A listing to us is our livelihood, it puts food on our table, it is not just one of the masses. You do not get lost or passed off to members of our team. The drive and passion we have for our business and our clients is reflected in our level of service we offer to our clients. After all, we are agents that need business, not just want it to beat records.
What’s your recent track record in the area?
Between 2013-2016 Walker completed on average 15 transactions a year and now that Mark and Walker have partnered up in 2017 they have completed 10 transactions, have four under contract, and anticipate closing another 10-12 by the end of the year. Our sales together combined have already surpassed last year’s total sales.
In the average persons lifetime they will buy/sell 3-5 homes. In 2016 there were 86,000 transactions, and if we assume there are an active 30,000 agents then that means the average agent does about 3 deals a year. The reality is about 20% of the agents do about 80% of the business (that would means 6,000 agents do 68,800, or on average 11 transactions a year).
So the range of an average agent is somewhere between 3-10 deals a year. For the last several years we have preformed above the level of an “average agent”.
What are your contract requirements?
We use a standard listing agreement written by the Chicago Association of Realtors (CAR) for sellers and do NOT use a Buyer Agreement. We were raised to believe “our words is our bond” and that a handshake means something; with that said, while we do require sellers sign an agreement so we comply with state law, we do not enforce that agreement if a seller is unhappy and wishes to terminate the relationship. Chicago is a world class city but also a small town and we intend to do business here for the rest of our lives, so we would rather see you happy, even if it means using a different broker.
For sellers we charge a one-time, at closing, percent of the transaction, which we then share with the agent who brings the buyer from the MLS. There are no termination fees, marketing fees, professional photo or floor plan charges, or any other hidden fees. There is no charge for buyers to use our service as it’s customary in IL for the sellers agents to offer cooperative compensation.
How will we communicate, and how often?
Our communication is usually either via email or text depending on the situation and length of communication. We usually reserve texts for “quick” conversations, notifying you of appointments, touch bases etc. We usually keep all the communication regarding the actually process to email. This helps us keep everything in one place so we can look back with accuracy if necessary. Usually you will get a market update ever week, however that depends on the market and our agreed upon strategy.
One of the things we stick to and pride ourselves on is showing our properties. Lockboxes are not a way to show a property and answer any questions prospective buyers have about the property. The buyers agent only knows what is on the MLS. How are agents hired to sell a property when all they do is input the property into the MLS and throw a box with keys on it? You are paying us to sell your property, to educate prospective buyers about what your property has to offer, and to make the prospective buyers feel at home in your home.
Are you willing to tell it like it is?
Absolutely, we’ve been doing this long enough to know that the actually process of the transaction is almost exactly the same in most deals. If you are fortunate enough to know us both on a personal level, you know we are both sharp shooters. We will be honest with you when it comes to what is a road block that is preventing buyers from making an offer on your property. We typically like to prep our sellers with what we see as potential negative feedback from buyers. While we don’t have a crystal ball, we also work with buyers and know that there are some deterrents properties have that will cause hesitation. Many times, small fixes like flooring, decor, painting, and small finishes we suggest will help alleviate some of the negatives associated with your property. We try to set our sellers expectations based on feedback we get from a property. If there are things that we are hearing buyers buyers continually say, we will tell you. If it is something we cannot fix, we will suggest other options to compensate for the negatives.
When things start to get “weird” in a transaction, we throw the red flag and find out what’s going on. We like to be involved and communicated with as well throughout the entire transactions. We usually recommend lawyers that keep us in the loop throughout the “contract to close” period of the transaction. Your real estate agent plays peace maker throughout the entire process. We put out many fires and we try our hardest to There’s nothing to gain for either party by sugar coating anything. That said we are honest without being hurtful, mean or rude. It’s a delicate balance to manage the real estate process and a clients emotions. We often liken ourselves to therapists since the sale or purchase can be very emotionally and mentally taxing.
How do you monitor the market?
Almost everything is in the MLS, so we have set up searches in our area to see daily listed, under contract and closed properties. We have specific searches we monitor for each buyer and seller, and after all that, we look at every new listing on the North Side and North Shore multiple times daily. Most people get up and read the news, we get up and read the MLS.
In addition to this Walker has an unnatural obsession with construction. We have an entirely separate Facebook page where he is constantly documenting new construction and rehabs in the area. Check it out here: MW Collection: The Developments
We are constantly on the road with buyers, or doing listing appointments. We see literally hundreds if not thousands of properties in a given year. We keep databases of high-rises so we know all the condo rules and regs. Every Tuesday we can be found in the North Shore touring open houses.
We know our market, and we want to be our clients main resource when they have questions.
What’s your marketing strategy?
Our motto is “against the grain in real estate” and that applies directly to our marketing efforts. While the actual process of buying and selling real estate is almost always the same, the ways we market properties and drive interest has changed. With the vast usage of social media by nearly the entire population, reaching potential clients has become easier than ever. Most brokerages in the Chicagoland area have a specific set of marketing material, specific photographers they have exclusive contracts with, and can only do what their brokerage and brand allow them to do. This is not to discredit their strategy, but rather educate how it may prevent them from doing something different. Each property is unique, and each seller is unique. The pre-determined needs may not conform to sellers property or needs. With us, we are fortunate enough to have carte blanche with marketing. We can think outside the box and formulate a strategy with our seller that can expose the property and get as many potential buyers in the door.
We focus our efforts building our brand and providing a level of service that is “above the crowd®”. Getting buyers to notice a property is not as easy as you would think these days. Photos speak a thousand words and they will over look your home if it’s not showing well in photos. We always use professional photographer, and spend the time to help you prepare your home to show in its best light. We always use floor plans, provide any supporting documents, and nearly always show our listings.
Our presence on Social Media is a driving force in our approach to exposing our properties. Millennial to Millennial Marketing, a truth that today’s buyers are not using the same approaches to searching for the homes of their dreams. We are using mediums like Instagram, Facebook, Zillow, and other apps on our phones. Gone are the days where buyer’s agents surprised their clients with properties they found to show them. The buyers find the properties on their own and the first and most vital impression they get of a home is how it is portrayed online. Many agents have been around for years and years and have yet to evolve with the times, losing touch of the real estate evolution. Having agents that are young, savvy, and have the knowledge and resources to resonate with the buyers who are buying the homes is an asset most agents cannot provide.
There is no need to reinvent the real estate wheel. The transaction process has stayed pretty much the same throughout the decades. The best piece of advice we can give to any potential client is: Pick someone who you have a good rapport with. Trust is earned not given. When it comes to one of the largest financial transactions in your life, you need to trust your agent. We would love the opportunity to get to know us on a Professional-Personal level. As much as this process is the same; it needs to be tailored to each client.
Check our our teams Facebook page and be sure to tell your friends and family to reach out for a free consultation of their real estate needs.