Almost from the day I started as an agent nearly 6 years ago, I was told that I need to be a neighborhood specialist. Right from the start I utilized the Internet to help me expand my circle of influence successfully. That was most certainly a different market from today, yet I sense that many agents have become handcuffed from this microscopic view of real estate.
Fortunately, in January 2008 I started to compile statistics for a number of towns that I did a lot of work in. It was too many (10). By the time April rolled around I went down to 6, and then by the end of April just stopped. Now I wish I had kept it up, but at least I have reference points.
It was only ten days ago (March 18th) that I was discussing how high inventory levels were with several agents from my own office. An agent stated that the town directly north of us (Danbury, CT) had come down a lot. That statement surprised me, so I checked. There were 4 less listings in 2009 than 2008 (259 to 263), less than a 2% difference.
At least in this market we need a wider viewpoint of our markets.
#1 - Many buyers don't just look in a town (at least in western Connecticut) and come armed with their own sense of what is going on (many times incorrectly).
#2 - Insight into what is hot and what is not can only help us with our business, our listings, and our buyers. We need answers and it that only comes from a deep understanding of what is happening.
Recently I pulled back to look at our entire MLS (the Consolidated MLS) and the numbers were surprising to me. After attending a Realtor.com seminar I went to see how many virtual tours were being used by active listings. The percentage of buyers who have stated in a National Association of Realtor (NAR) survey has risen every year and now matches their request for a large number of photos on listings (87% said it was either very important or extremely important). Yet, in checking my MLS, there were over 7000 listings and almost 80% (79.9%) had no virtual tour. Even though buyers had the same response on multiple photos (87%) only 36.8% had the full 16 photos and only11.7% had the full 16 photos that we are allowed and a virtual tour.
Maybe buyers look down on agents because year after year they say the same things but most of us just don't seem to get it!