The Listing Agent Minefield – The more listings the agent has the better! Right?

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September 30, 2012
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October 8, 2012

The answer is “Not necessarily!”  Most agents in Westchester County do not have a great number of listings…if any.   There are a handful of agents that do and most trumpet that fact as a sign of great success.  These are what I call “power agents”.  They have a name and they collect them – sometimes just because they can.  Unfortunately, having a name isn’t everything.  It can be difficult for the consumer to differentiate between an agent or broker that is riding on the coattails of a name “earned” in c.1980 from an agent who truly has their head and business in the 21st century.

Why would agents simply collect listings? 

This goes back to the first post in this series where  I addressed why agents are always crawling all over the consumer for their listing Most agents do want to sell your home.  But even if they know that they can’t due to overpricing or other issues, there are other reasons to take on.  Listings are magnets for buyers and they also can attract local sellers.  Having the sign in the ground is built-in publicity.  All this attention may seem like an embarrassment of riches for the consumer, but this level of competition can make the seller feel as if they are under assault. It also makes  it harder to separate value from hype.

Collecting real estate listings like a curator is not enough!  

The agent has to sell your home!  This is where it gets tricky.  If an agent comes in waxing eloquent about the number of listings they hold, you have to ask what percentage are actually selling!  I’ve seen two types of “power agents”.  Some really work to sell the home, others stick a sign in the ground and run.

The latter type often end up with a ton of expired listings – which are listings that failed to sell.  For example: There was a broker that was trying to recruit me as an agent a few months ago.  He told me that he had over 35 listings and could help me get the same!  A little voice said “I don’t think so!”  A little checking told the story…The broker had more than 35 listings but only about 5 listings sold over a 12 month period.  So how’s that working for this broker’s sellers?

Now, there is a broker I know in my office that has sold about 98% of all of their listings.  With a few exceptions, the home is sold in a timely way for a great price.  This agent doesn’t tend to hold more than 4 or 5 listings.  Sometimes the agent only has one.  But they almost always sell.  Personally, my rate is 99%.  I have had listings expire – but I re-listed them and sold them in the end.  However, I am not a power-lister.

So which would you rather have? The power lister who doesn’t care or an agent who treats each listing as a unique entity and gets the job done?  Don’t mistake the point here. I’m not dissing power listers. Many power listers are great, but anyone can look successful if they are able to throw 100 things against a wall and have 15-20 stick.  So you have to be sure of what you are getting.

There needs to be a comprehensive marketing plan…

Marketing costs money and agents put their time and money on the line when they list your home.  One of the reasons for that is that taking on a listing is risky.  Agents hold the risk of marketing nurturing and caring for a listing and don’t get paid a dime unless there is a sale.  It is risk free for the consumer – but high risk for the agent.  In fact – that is why commissions are so high!  So the budget isn’t limitless

Nevertheless – there needs to be a comprehensive plan that showcases your home and promotes your home effectively.  More specifics on that later.

Some possible red flags….

  • “I don’t do open houses!”  If you live in a high-traffic area – open houses can help you.  In a secluded area – this is not such a big issue.  It is a sign that the agent may be too busy.
  • Their MLS listings are sloppy and the photography looks like it was done by a 5-year-old.  BIG red flag.
  • You are selling a $200,000 coop but your agent has 20 listings over $1 million.  This can be a problem if the agent doesn’t have time to service all of their listings.
  • The number of expired listings is as long as the Mississippi River.
  • The agent has over 50 listings, but lives and works 50 miles away.

For those of you who have been reading this series – I do believe the “hyperlocal agent” thing is overdone.  So the last comment might seem contradictory.  However,  a power agent with tons of listings that are probably all over the map is questionable.  Real estate is still local.  Make sure this agent has enough local knowledge and the time or the backup staff to service the listing.

If your home does not sell, it isn’t always the listing agent’s fault… 

Now, in fairness, there are many reasons why a listing fails to sell.  Its not always the agent.  Often it is the price or the lack of showing flexibility.  Not being able to keep the home “show ready” is also a big reason. Before moving onto another agent, ask if you think the agent did their job or whether you might be being too stubborn on price or restrictive with showings.  Many agents work very hard and they spend hard money trying make things work.  It isn’t fair to fire an agent for something that isn’t their fault.  The above should help you understand what you can and should expect.

Other posts in “The Listing Agent Minefield” series…

  1. The Listing Agent Minefield…Choosing a listing agent without losing your mind…
  2. The Listing Agent Minefield – Is a “local” or “hyperlocal” agent really that important?
  3. The Listing Agent Minefield – The more listings the agent has the better! Right?
  4. The Listing Agent Minefield – Should I choose my agent from Zillow’s list of premier agents?
  5. The Listing Agent Minefield – “Everyone I know lists with ‘Big Box Brokerage’ so they must be the best”
  6. The Listing Agent Minefield – Whatever happened to internet transparency?

© 2012 – Ruthmarie G. Hicks – – All rights reserved.


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