Know your value, and tailor your business for your client's needs.

Real Estate Agent with Coldwell Banker Residential

In several of the posts I've written and read in the last few days, the one constant that's come up is "service".

Service is King.  If you're not providing service, you're failing. And I'm not just talking about chauffeuring the clients to and from homes, and unlocking the doors.

But you want to make sure that you're providing a valuable service... unlike our DVD rewinder to the left.

What does the general public want from we Realtors today?  What do they need us for?  What part of our services are they willing to pay for?

With the advent of Zillow, Trulia and more, including our local MLS that offer a watered-down version to the public and our commercial corporate sites (ie:,, the general pubic of buyers can find the house themselves these days

Yes, we can find more accurate and more current results, but that's likely to change in the pretty near future.  So it seems they don't really need us to FIND the house.

This one works for both buyers and sellers.  Some buyers and sellers are savvy enough to have a fair idea of what range the house should be in, but they generally need us to narrow the range.  While they can access information (like Zillow) to determine what recent homes have sold for... they probably haven't been in the homes, so they don't really know just how "comparable" those are to their home.

This one is key.  The general public, while capable of negotiation, does not like to do it.  They feel as though they're in a foreign land when trying to negotiate for their car, let alone a purchase such as a home.  This is where they truly need us, we've seen the other homes, we know the value of this one vs. others... and we're comfortable with the negotiation process... nay, we ENJOY it, and we've had lots of experience doing it, and bring new and exciting tactics to the table for the buyer and seller.

Another critical aspect.  Most people buy or sell a home 2 or 3, maybe even 4 times in their lives.  They can't keep up with all the nuances of the sale.  What paperwork is required, which legal forms must be signed, again this is where our expertise shines.  Once the contract has been signed, there's still enough work left to be done.  Lending has become trecherous today... we know our way through... yes, they need us here.

Again, yes, they need us here.  Very few laypeople know an inspector.  Sure, they could find one in the yellow pages, but they don't know which ones are good, which ones are excellent.  Which ones fit their personality, and which ones put out a stellar computerized report.  They have no idea which inspectors specialize in "walking the roof", or which ones were an electrician in a former career.  Yes, they need us here too.

Which problems, when found during an inspection, should I request a credit for... should I request a repair for... should I walk away from the deal for??  Again, we've seen many, many, many prior inspections, and know a great deal about what's salvageable, what's repairable, what's credit-worthy (and how much we might be able to get), and what's so serious that we should run (don't walk) away from the deal.  Yes, they need us here.

I'm sure you have more "value" to add...that I've not listed here. Finding the home, just isn't one of the strong ones anymore.  Many of my clients arrive at my "internet door", with properties in hand that they want to see.  But they're more than happy to have my strengths assist them through a strange and unfamiliar process.

Just be sure that you're offering value-added services to your clientelle.  Make sure you know what they need, and that you can provide it.

Posted by

 ALAN MAY, Realtor®   
Specializing in Evanston Real Estate and North Shore Real Estate

Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate, 1710 Central Street, Evanston, IL 60201
847.425.3779      Cell: 847.924.3313      Email:

Evanston Real Estate & North Shore Real Estate
Licensed in Illinois



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Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
your real estate writer

I have always felt that the "real work" began after the purchase and sale agreement was signed - keeping the transaction together and getting it all the way to closing is hard work.

In my opinion, that's why there are so many agents out there who can't make a living. They think their work is over once the agreement is made.

I can't tell you how many I've heard moaning and groaning because their sales never close - but it doesn't occur to them that their lack of involvement and action after the agreement is signed is the reason.

The consumers who are "down" on Realtors probably had experience with some of them.

Nov 15, 2009 05:50 AM #48
Monica Bourgeau
New Phase Business Coaching - Portland, OR
Business Coaching

Alan - great article. I wish all buyers saw the benefits in the areas you mentioned. I talked to a buyer at an open house who was representing himself but didn't know the basic points of an offer. He may represent himself but will likely leave a lot of money on the table due to not understanding offer strategies, inspection follow up strategies, etc.

Nov 15, 2009 06:38 AM #49
Jayne Williamson, REALTOR, Broker, GRI
Keller Williams Realty Mountain Partners, Hendersonville, NC - Hendersonville, NC


Wonderful insights!  I have had Buyers tell me that other REALTORS would not touch them because their price point was way too low.  I figure everyone should have the same treatment regardless of the amount of money they can afford to spend.

I still have Buyers call me with questions about who to call a year or two later and always say they tell everyone they know to call me!  That's reaping what you sow.

Nov 15, 2009 07:43 AM #50
David Selman
Selman Home Inspections, Inc. - Dallas, TX
Certified Master Home Inspector

Alan - Great article about the value of a real estate agent. As a professional home inspector in the Waxahachie, Texas area, I was particularly interested in your comments in this area. I consider myself a pro at what I do and strive to learn more from every inspection I do and, from the agents and clients I meet. I work to improve my computerized reports which are delivered onsite and all aspects of my business every day.

One improvement and, I believe, a great value to home sellers and real estate agents are "Move In Certified" homes and seller home inspections. For seller Realtors looking to add value and gain a great marketing advantage, I recommend a home inspector that provides "Move In Certified" home inspections.

There are many advantages to a seller home inspection including yard signs and onsite inspection reports just to name a few.

Thanks again for your post and your insight to the value each professional can bring to our industry.

David Selman
Selman Home Inspections
Ellis County Texas


Nov 15, 2009 08:34 AM #51
Alan May
Coldwell Banker Residential - Evanston, IL
Helping you find your way home.

Jirius - hmm... not a name I remember from the Bible... but then admittedly, I'm not quite as Bible conversant, as I should be.

Marte - I agree... there's still plenty of work to down, once the contract has been signed.

Kevin & Monica - there are always those who think they can do it themselves... (I differentiate them from those who actually CAN do it themselves...not everyone NEEDS a Realtor... but most could benefit from one).

Jayne - I, too, have clients who contact me regularly.. years after a closing... to ask questions about taxes... handymen... local city issues... and I want them to... I'm happy to answer any questions I can, or point them in the right direction.  I've told clients before... having a transaction with Alan buys you year-round access to me. Call me anytime.

David - "move in certified homes", just sound like a home that has been "pre-inspected".  Personally, while that sounds great... I would still want to have my own inspection done (by a professional who I hired, and is fiduciary to ME), so I'm not sure if it really adds any major value, in my opinion.  But it sure couldn't hurt.

Nov 15, 2009 08:58 AM #52
Ted Tyndall
Davidson Realty Inc. - Saint Augustine, FL
FL Homes for Sale-Palencia, World Golf Village,Nocatee,St. Augustine


Great article. I think most of the customers never consider our efforts and worth. They jsut think we are doing what we are supposed to.

Nov 15, 2009 09:08 AM #53
Chrysti Tovani
eXp Realty, LLC. - Sacramento, CA
Sacramento Real Estate Agent

NAVIGATING THE LANDMINES THROUGH CLOSING  - My favorite part.  Great article. 

Nov 15, 2009 09:40 AM #54
Wayne B. Pruner
Oregon First - Tigard, OR
Tigard Oregon Homes for Sale, Realtor, GRI

Great post Alan. I always communicate with my client each step of the way so they know what I am doing. They also get a written weekly report on my activities.

Nov 15, 2009 10:08 AM #55
Mike Henderson
Your complete source for buying HUD homes - Littleton, CO
HUD Home Hub - 303-949-5848

Really good post.  I try to point out this to my clients all the time.  I actually try to train my clients to find their house.  I explain my value really comes in with these other area.

Nov 15, 2009 10:52 AM #56
Tim and Pam Cash
Crye-Leike (Sango) - Clarksville, TN
Real Estate Professionals - Clarksville TN

Alan, you are so right - service IS KING.  We are currently working with a FSBO seller.  This guy thought it would be easy, but as he has found out, it has been anything but.  He stated this will be the last time he ever does an FSBO.  While on face value it seems so simple, the issues that inevitably arise cause disaster if there is not a dedicated Realtor to provide the services you state.

Nov 15, 2009 01:21 PM #57
JL Boney, III
Coldwell Banker - Columbia, SC
Columbia, SC Real Estate

Those landmines before closing are getting harder and harder to work through my friend, but they do make us earn our money in a big way don't they?

Nov 15, 2009 01:39 PM #58
Alan May
Coldwell Banker Residential - Evanston, IL
Helping you find your way home.

Ted - most clients don't consider our efforts.  We do what we do so well, that is appears effortless.

Chrystina - you have to admit... there are numerous landmines hidden along the way that could easily cause the deal to 'blow up' unless we exert some of our expertise.

Wayne - that's excellent.  No surprises.

Mike - perfect... managing their expectations... that's key.

Tim & Pam - it does seem so simple...and when it works, it can be simple... but ohhh when it goes sour... it can go really sour... and if you don't know what you're doing... hooooooeeeeey!

JL - they are getting harder to spot, and more difficult to keep from exploding... but that's why we get the 'big bux' isn't it?

Nov 15, 2009 11:30 PM #59

Thanks for the post.  Sometimes when a potential client asks what value do I bring to the table I will ask them if they just had their job review and had to answer that same question in a joking manner.  I then follow up with the "as you know there are a lot of behind the scene things that need to be dealt with that others know nothing about ..." and inform them of what I do.  I don't know, but this seems to help them understand that as with their job more is being done than meets the eye.  Take care and have a great day.

Nov 15, 2009 11:35 PM #60
Alan May
Coldwell Banker Residential - Evanston, IL
Helping you find your way home.

interesting "turn about" unknown-commenter.  Thanx.

Nov 16, 2009 12:37 AM #61
Erin Golding
Hallmark Sotheby's International Realty Hopkinton, MA - Bellingham, MA

I love this post Alan.  It's a perfect job discription for Real Estate Agents.

Nov 16, 2009 01:33 AM #62
Alan May
Coldwell Banker Residential - Evanston, IL
Helping you find your way home.

thank you, erin.  you have excellent taste.

Nov 16, 2009 01:40 AM #63
Tammy Vertrees
REeBroker - San Marcos, CA
Real Estate Consultant

Alan, you are so right about service.  I know of some agents in our area with "very" questionable service.  I have to scratch my head sometimes and wonder how these agents stay in business.



Nov 16, 2009 09:40 AM #64
Alan May
Coldwell Banker Residential - Evanston, IL
Helping you find your way home.

I know, Tammy... we all know those agents who don't provide any service, barely put any photos on their listings, rarely return phone calls, and yet they're highly sucessful!  Go figure!?

Nov 16, 2009 10:28 AM #65
Kristen Wahl
Re/Max Plus - Rochester, NY

Alan, good points! I just wrote a post about our value in today's society recently, too. I truly believe our clients need us more than ever now to help them sift through the ever-growing amount of info they can find!

Nov 17, 2009 01:59 PM #66
Alan May
Coldwell Banker Residential - Evanston, IL
Helping you find your way home.

you know, Kristen... some people need us... some people can manage without us.  We have to learn who's who, and adapt.  But you're right... for those who do need us, they need us more than ever.

Nov 17, 2009 11:46 PM #67
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