(This article appeared in the November 2016 edition of the Orinda News.)
Hiring a real estate agent to sell your home is a big decision. It is likely your largest asset, and you want someone to deliver great results and keep your best interests in mind. Because trust is a key factor in the realtor/client relationship, sellers sometimes turn to friends or family members who are “in the business” even if they are not in the area. This decision can be a result of a family obligation, a fee discount, or because the seller doesn’t understand the drawbacks, which can be far costlier than a commission savings. Here are three reasons to “hire local” when it is time to sell your home.
1. Touring Homes is Critical to Proper Pricing. Pictures only tell a fraction of the story, and out-of- area agents who have not toured the recently sold properties must rely solely on photos and MLS data when it comes time to price your home. Often, non-local agents assume that because a nearby home with similar stats sold for $X, it is a good “comp” on which to base the price of your home. But they might not know that road noise brought down the selling price of comp A, for example, or that comp B had drainage issues – common challenges in Orinda .
Conversely, city agents tend to dramatically underprice properties, expecting buyers to overbid by 20-40% as is common in Oakland, Berkeley or San Francisco - but this type of bidding is not the norm in Lamorinda. If you overprice your home, it may sit on the market for weeks or months. If you underprice your home, you may be leaving money on the table. Find an agent who tours Lamorinda properties each Tuesday; their first-hand knowledge of recent sales is critical to helping you set the right price.
2. The Lamorinda Agent Network is Powerful. Who your agent knows impacts how quickly your home sells, and for how much. An agent with solid local relationships can even sell a home “off the market” if that is your wish. They can call on their colleagues for pricing feedback, and they know the best service providers to prep your home. Most importantly, agents who work locally know which agents and lenders get transactions across the finish line. Relationships matter a great deal in real estate, so pick an agent with strong local ties.
3. Put Yourself in the Buyers’ Shoes. Imagine a buyer walks into an open house where the listing agent doesn’t know much about the neighborhood, schools, swim clubs, commute or culture of Orinda. What kind of impression does that leave? A local agent will know key selling points to highlight in fliers and ads. Find an agent who lives in the area and can sell it to buyers with enthusiasm. Your home will only look nicer for it.
Hillary Murphy is an agent at Village Associates Real Estate, the market leader in Lamorinda.