What’s an agent have to do with it? Have to do with it?

As REALTORS® who specialize in the historic neighborhoods of Phoenix, we are always amazed when someone lists their historic home with a real estate agent whose office is on the outskirts of Phoenix proper — or who has never sold or owned an historic home.

As a seller or buyer of an historic home, it’s essential that you have someone to represent you that knows the nuances of these homes and the varied neighborhoods they are located in. For example, how could the agent who lists your home provide an appraiser with accurate information on the value of homes in downtown / midtown / uptown or central Phoenix when he/she typically works the Queen Creek or Gilbert area where the homes and floor plans are very straight forward and limited? Most historic neighborhoods were built prior to WWII before tract housing. Each home is different in size, floor plan, architectural style, etc.

I have lived in historic homes for over 20 years and believe me, there is a lot to know about them — the way they are built, how to care for/repair hardwood floors, what the sewer lines were made of “back in the day,” and the list goes on. Having an agent that is already familiar with these elements is a boon to a buyer/seller of an historic home.

It’s also very important to have a REALTOR® who knows how to take an overwhelming 30-40-page inspection report and pare it down to the issues of most concern for historic homes. As historic specialists, we focus on health and safety issues that do/will impact you as a buyer/seller. We can give you proper referrals for crafts people who work on old homes, know how to restore hardwood floors, old wood sash or casement windows, shake roofs, etc. We can also provide you with information on the city’s historic preservation benefits and regulations. This is all at our fingertips.

I was referred to a seller in an historic neighborhood about two years ago — the son and his wife were selling the son’s deceased mother’s home — the home the he grew up in. I hadn’t the opportunity to see the house ahead of time but did run extensive data and comps, and met with the clients who showed me all around the immaculate home. At the end we had great talk and I thought all was going quite well. I had the hard talk with them about some of the home’s features that may be problematic for buyers in the area — old carpet throughout the home, lack of upgrades, original kitchen and baths (sometimes this is a plus but it depends on the condition, color, etc.) and further, the lack of architectural charm/significance that many historic homes have. Furthermore, the home sat right on 7th Avenue — a very busy road with suicide lanes and all! I advised the sellers that I would give them a firm price recommendation two hours after seeing the home and headed straight to my office to do some serious number crunching!

When I called the sellers back, I was certain I had the magic price within 10-20k, and gave them all the details of my comparisons. I know they really liked me, but … oh my, did they balk! They thought the house was a whopping 150k more than my research indicated. Through their clenched teeth they eked out a “Thank you for your time, Bobbi” before nearly slamming the phone down in my ear. Selling a home is emotional! I get it.

They hired someone else to list their home (an agent unknown to the area) and it sat, then had a contract, then dropped, then sat some more, then had a contract, then dropped, then sat some more — this went on for well over a year. All the while, the price slowly inched down.

A year later they hired a different agent and had similar circumstances. Neither agent held even one open house. Finally, more than two years later, the home sold for a price nearly 100k less than what I quoted the sellers — yes, nearly 250k less than they initially thought it was worth. Prices have gone up, not down! I truly believe they left money on the table — quite a bit of money.

What happened? First off, in my humble opinion, the home would’ve vastly benefitted from open houses especially due to its location. The home needed an advocate, aka REALTOR, to point out the special features of the home, get people past the carpet, talk about the neighborhood, the amazing parks, restaurants and culture within steps of the home. These areas are known for drive through buyers who come every weekend looking for open houses. Many are headstrong and will only work with the listing agent. Some are looky loos and others come with their agents. But nonetheless, I’ve rarely held an open house in this area without at least 15-25 serious buyers coming by. In fact, we know many of them by name because the same folks turn up time and time again. Have we sold homes to people who come to our open houses? You better believe it!

Second, had these sellers priced the house correctly going in, I firmly believe they would have more money in their pocket today. You see, the longer a home sits on the market, the longer a home will sit on the market! Buyers are all over new listings but shy away from homes that have been sitting — I suppose the thought is that there is “something wrong with it.”

The lesson? Hire an agent who is familiar with your particular area and can speak to it with knowledge and authority. If it’s an historic home, hire an agent that lives in the area and owns an historic home! Furthermore, do business with an agent who has a stake in the neighborhood and community — a stake in doing a good job because they work where they live and their reputation is on the line.

Not every agent is right for every buyer or seller so it’s important to meet and interview each other to see how you fit. Will a high-strung client want to work with a hands-off agent who never answers their phone? Will a laid-back seller want to work with a listing agent who micro-manages the cleaning, staging and showings? No, and no! That’s why there is plenty of work to go around and plenty of agents to choose from.

If you are thinking of selling or buying, please give us a call and a chance to show you how we can help you save and/or make money and give you the expertise you deserve when you hire a real estate professional.

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