The "Hire a Local Agent" Myth

By
Real Estate Broker/Owner with Madeline Island Realty 50317-90

THE "HIRE A LOCAL AGENT" MYTH

One of my competitors is fond of telling visitors to his office that his real estate office is "open year-round".  He also tells customers that they should always "hire a local agent".

Uh-huh.

Last Friday, I was in Bayfield, Wisconsin for a closing and afterward I took the Madeline Island Ferry to LaPointe.  I arrived on Madeline Island at around 3 pm and stopped by a few competitors' offices.  Guess what?  Not one of those real estate offices were open.  Nope, not a single one.

I called one of my competitors, who also happens to be a friend of mine.  I left him a voicemail message, asking about one of his listings that a client of mine is interested in seeing.  Guess what?  I didn't get a call back from him until today.

Okay, c'mon now.  If you're going to represent yourself as somehow being morally superior because you're a "local" or because you claim to live "year round" on the Island, how about actually being reachable on a weekday?

I suppose if you have nothing else to recommend working with you, there's always the "hire a local" thing.

I think this "hire the hometown team" sales pitch is a pretty weak argument for promoting oneself to the public.

As you've probably guessed by now, I am not a "local", but I've owned property on the Island for a couple decades.  And my real estate office is in its second decade on Madeline Island.  I pay plenty for property taxes and other fees here.

I'm a city kid.  I'll admit it.  I live in the Minneapolis area western suburbs and spend most of my summers on Madeline Island.  It works well for me, as a large percentage of my clients also live in the Minneapolis & Saint Paul metro area.  Besides, I need Chinese food and bus exhaust and a Broadway show once in awhile.

I know the Island well.  I'm a homeowner and a commercial property owner and I've been spending my summers on the Island since the 1980s.  But I'll probably never be accepted as a "local".  And that's okay with me.

I opened a real estate office on Madeline Island because I met buyers who were looking for the same standard of practice from their agent that they had become accustomed to where they come from, where they live and work.  And when we opened our office, that seemed to be a need for that standard of practice in our little corner of northwest Wisconsin.

Today, that degree of service and professionalism seems to be even more in demand.  And I believe a successful real estate agent today needs to be much more than just a "local" in order to meet those consumer needs.

 

TourFactory Virtual Tours - Madeline Island Realty LLC

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Rainmaker
169,067
Larry Bergstrom
Crescent Realty, Inc. Spanaway, WA. - Spanaway, WA
CNE, CRS, GRI

Eric, just because you hire the local agent, doesn't necessarily mean that you'll get good service.

Nov 17, 2010 01:09 PM #1
Rainer
390,804
Nor Yeretsian
Envoy Capitol Realty Inc. - Toronto, ON
Envoy Capitol Realty Inc., Brokerage Toronto

Myth buster.

Cheers

Nor Yeretsian

 

Nov 17, 2010 01:17 PM #2
Rainmaker
412,651
Rodney Mason
Guaranteed Rate - Atlanta, GA
AL, GA, SC, & TN

That is very true.  It kind of reminds me of when they complain about the appraiser not being "local".  I someone have to refrain from pointing out to them that they live just as far from the property as the appraiser does.  I guess they subscribe to the philosophy that the appraiser must live on the same street as the house, but the agent can live miles away.

Nov 17, 2010 01:23 PM #3
Rainmaker
242,066
Jenny Durling
L.A. Property Solutions - Los Angeles, CA
For Los Angeles real estate help 213-215-4758

I think if you own property in the area and know it well, you can consider yourself a 'local agent' as well. I DO think it is important to work with someone who is local. I don't mean they need to LIVE in the area but they need to KNOW the area.

Nov 17, 2010 01:31 PM #4
Rainer
159,164
Vienna Bello
Liberty Realty, LLC - Jersey City, NJ
Real Estate Sales, Rentals & Consulting, GRI, SFR

Ah.. local schmocal LOL.  I'm born & raised in Jersey City, grew up hanging out in Hoboken.  I could drive through Hudson County with my eyes closed... (I don't recommend that trick with a client in the car LOL) .  I moved 2 years ago, miles away to northern Bergen County.  What does that make me now??? I say, if you know the area well (comps, stores, schools, people) who cares if you're a "local". 

It's all about doing what's best for your client.

Keep up the good work :)

~ Vienna

Nov 17, 2010 01:53 PM #5
Rainer
159,164
Vienna Bello
Liberty Realty, LLC - Jersey City, NJ
Real Estate Sales, Rentals & Consulting, GRI, SFR

P.S... Although affiliated with Liberty Realty in Hoboken, I've been trying to do business closer to home in Bergen County... I keep gettng the feeling that the agents up north don't really want to bother with me.. call me paranoid, but I swear I've been getting the cold shoulder from a lot of them.  So, I know the feeling! 

Recent examples: My DAD is looking for a house in Emerson.  I call the agent to show, after telling him who I am and where I'm from, he tells me "we're not showing the house at this time".  My Dad calls the same agent 20 minutes later and gets "sure! when would you like to see it??"... Hmmm..  Another one.. I walk into an open house in Westwood with my Dad.  Agents on site, happy as clams till I whipped out the card.  OK call me paranoid but I smell a conspiracy LOL... I'm half kidding... But, I do know the feeling. I swear sometimes it's because my card says Hoboken LOL. 

Nov 17, 2010 02:10 PM #6
Rainmaker
925,799
Ron Marshall
Marshall Enterprises - Saint Michael, MN
Birdhouse Builder Extraordinaire

Having visited Madeline Island frequently myself, I can tell you that not one of those agents is in the office as well.  Now , I am not a realtor, but I understand that island pretty well.  And, some of the islanders get pretty damn lonely in the winter. 

If I WERE a realtor, I would sell that place up and down all day long.  And, it looks like you are doing that pretty well from the "mainland".  Good post. 

Nov 17, 2010 02:12 PM #7
Rainer
1,756,848
Conrad Allen
Re/Max Professional Associates - Webster, MA
Webster, Ma, Realtor

Being geographically ignorant is a disservice to the seller.  Living part time is not the same as selling real estate full time.  Professionalism is not part time.

Nov 17, 2010 02:18 PM #8
Ambassador
1,722,969
Jon Zolsky, Daytona Beach, FL
Daytona Condo Realty, 386-405-4408 - Daytona Beach, FL
Buy Daytona condos for heavenly good prices

Eric, local is suchh a vague term. Thereis a big difference between "hore a local" because otherwise s/he will become extinct, or rhire a local because s/he trully knows the ins and outs.

One is protecting the species, that other wise would die, the other is being the fittest.

And your line with Chinese food and bus exhaust made me laugh...

Nov 17, 2010 03:40 PM #12
Rainer
133,461
Barbara Chatterton
The Stark Company Realtors, Madison WI - Madison, WI
Greater Madison Wisconsin Area Realtor

If the real locals are loco (not returning a call for  5 days!) I'd be proud to give the excellent service as a non-local that you do. 

P.S.  I prefer my Broadway shows without bus exhaust, thankyouverymuch.

Nov 17, 2010 03:44 PM #14
Rainmaker
292,151
Robin Rogers
Robin Rogers, Silverbridge Realty, San Antonio, Texas - San Antonio, TX
CRS, TRC, MRP - Real Estate Investment Adviser

This gripes me, too, Eric! I have noticed in some markets that local agents are complacent. I'd rather work with an agent who will hustle and knows their business rather than somebody who specializes in a particular area just because it's convenient for them. Some things about real estate are universal.

Cheers,

Robin

Nov 18, 2010 12:51 AM #15
Rainmaker
244,680
Geordie Romer
Windermere Real Estate / NCW - Leavenworth, WA
Serving Leavenworth, Lake Wenatchee, and Plain

I have the opposite gripe myself. I work in a small vacation area about 2.5 hours east of Seattle. We do not share an MLS with the Seattle area though they refer to their system as THE MLS.

Every now and again, we get agents who wander over here - either as listing agents or with buyers. 95% of the time these agents are desperate or new. Successful agents are smart enough to refer the business.

A real estate license and GPS in your car is not enough to serve your clients well. As a local agent, I have experience in all the local neighborhoods. I can tell you why prices are going up in one neighborhood and down in another. I can tell you which condos are soon to be REOs and which ones are good investments. I can tell you which houses are for sale, but don't have signs in the yard and aren't on the MLS.

Are there incompentent local agents? Of course there are. The 80/20 rule applies here as it does so often. 20% of the agents do 80% of the business.

Nov 18, 2010 03:32 AM #16
Ambassador
2,298,288
1~Judi Barrett
Integrity Real Estate Services 118 SE AVE N, Idabel, OK 74745 - Idabel, OK
BS Ed, Integrity Real Estate Services -IDABEL OK

You will be thought of as a local or at least a local expert because you are available and familiar with the area. 

The way to get business!

Nov 18, 2010 01:57 PM #17
Rainmaker
522,122
Mike Carlier
Lakeville, MN
More opinions than you want to hear about.

Years ago and before I was in the business, I was in a resort town in MN and had interest in buying a lake home.  Went into town and none of the offices were open.  This was a weekday afternoon in June.  I've had similar experiences dropping in at small town offices in the almost-metro area near where I live.

I don't spend much time north of the river, but are there plays on Broadway now?  I thought that was all industrial.

Nov 20, 2010 02:54 AM #18
Rainmaker
939,108
Brigita McKelvie, Associate Broker
Cindy Stys Equestrian and Country Properties, Ltd. - Lehigh Valley, PA
The Broker with horse sense and no horsing around

Eric,

This is so true!  Being local does not guarantee anything except for the fact that their office is located in the area.  Consumers should work with agents that are knowledgeable and will work for their best interests, whether they are local or not.

Thanks for the post.

Brigita

Nov 22, 2010 12:35 AM #19
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Eric Kodner

CRS, Madeline Island Realty, LaPointe, WI 54850 -
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