What If I Know More Than My Agent - A Reality Check!

Real Estate Agent with Solutions Real Estate CA DRE #01490977

What If I Know More Than My Agent?!


Does it ever worry you someone might even ask that question or be thinking along those lines?


Is it unlikely?


Probably not, in this age of the Internet and the availability of information, accurate or otherwise.


It’s certainly possible a buyer may know more (about certain things) than you, or at least think they do.


Buyers and sellers do a lot of reseach on-line - do they know more than you?I wouldn’t sit there thinking because YOU are a licensed professional real estate agent that you know it all, or that some buyers may not be more knowledgeable about some things than you having to do with properties that are of interest to them.


Buyers on a home search mission are very information-oriented, and I am often amazed at the depth of research that some buyers do and what they can uncover.


So what do you do about it?


Consider this. Serious buyers are spending a lot of time researching properties, real estate information, taxes, communities, and more to make an informed decision in their home search. In many ways they have access to much of what we do – MLS listings, public and tax records for starters.


And because they are very focused on a specific task…for many it really becomes a part-time or even full-time job… they could develop a broader knowledge of some aspects of specific homes, neighborhoods and towns they are interested in than we might.


Buyers and sellers do a lot of reseach on-line - do they know more than you?I had a call from a first time buyer in Los Angeles who clearly is VERY dedicated to learning as much as possible about buying a short sale and has been involved in several transactions, although without success. She actually asked me the very question I pose in the title, so it got me thinking.


What if I (the buyer or seller) know more than my agent?


That may not be the reality. But their perception is reality and we must deal with it. If a buyer or seller feels, rightly or wrongly, they know more, does this mean less confidence in the agent? It certainly could.


Buyers deserve a certain level of competence and knowledge from us in their real estate transaction. If there are gaps in that knowledge, which is certainly possible since no one knows it all, a reasonable expectation is for us to get the necessary information, isn’t it?


We have abundant opportunities learn more about areas where our knowledge is limited. And plenty of consumer websites to explore so we know what information they are finding (whether it’s accurate or not). It could prove embarrassing to have our buyer or seller talking about information they found on a site we know nothing about!


So what if a buyer or seller does appear to know more and brings that to your attention by sharing their information?


What is YOUR relationship with your buyers and sellers?If your relationship is a good one a healthy, and useful, dialog could occur. If you are not put off by this revelation, or feel threatened, then the two of you can use this joint brain trust to work to your client’s advantage.  Letting this become an issue for you in your relationship with your client could cause problems, especially if you get defensive.


But they may also have an issue with their perception. And you will have to deal with it.


We know there are some sellers and buyers who feel they know everything about buying or selling a home and the market, and question everything we do, or refuse to accept the realities we share with them. Some of that may simply be the nature of dealing with our fellow humans; it may also be a strong need to control and to be right no matter what.


You probably can’t win in those situations, so it may be time to part ways.


However, in those cases where we are not as knowledgeable as we should be, and are not making the effort to gain that knowledge, something needs to change. It’s part of our responsibility to ourselves, to our profession, and to our clients. 


I know I really don’t want a buyer or seller feeling they know more than me.


How about you?!


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  1. Gary Frimann, CRS, GRI 10/26/2012 03:19 AM
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Jeff Dowler, CRS
Solutions Real Estate - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Margaret - that's certainly the right attitude to take. I am always impresssed, and glad, when buyers take time to do their research. I always ask where they find their information - I learn a few things that way, too.

Endre - well I think that is the crux of it all...their attitude about what they know relative to the reality. If they are open to listening to what we know AND our experience, great, but if they think they know so much that we cannot possibly be hlepdul to them, we have an issue.


Oct 25, 2012 11:32 PM #14
Richie Alan Naggar
people first...then business Ran Right Realty - Riverside, CA
agent & author

It is one thing to know and another to achieve a result.  I always research large purchases to get comfortable with it. But when I pull the trigger, I need a pro on point....Too risky other wise

Oct 25, 2012 11:51 PM #15
Debb Janes EcoBroker and Bernie Stea JD
ViewHomes of Clark County - Nature As Neighbors - Camas, WA
REALTORS® in Clark County, WA

Very evolved thinking Jeff.  I'm with you - make it partnership in this situation. However, I am dealing with a "know it all" client right now - and sadly, she really doesn't "know it all." But that's a different animal all together, as you mention. I like working with smart and informed people, it keeps me on my toes.


Oct 26, 2012 12:02 AM #16
Jeff Dowler, CRS
Solutions Real Estate - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Sharon - taking the approach that we CAN learn from each other is far more sensible than taking offense that someone knows what we don't


Oct 26, 2012 12:18 AM #17
Jill Sackler
Charles Rutenberg Realty Inc. 516-575-7500 - Long Beach, NY
LI South Shore Real Estate - Broker Associate

Like you mentioned, buyers that target a certain price range, for example, may be familiar with every single property on the market while you, as their agent, generally have a broader focus and probably in more than one neighborhood. There's no reason why you still can't work together.

Oct 26, 2012 12:55 AM #18
Liz and Bill Spear
RE/MAX Elite 513.520.5305 www.LizTour.com - Mason, OH
RE/MAX Elite Warren County OH (Cincinnati/Dayton)

Jeff, There are certainly times I expect the client to know more than me.  For instance, a seller probably knows more about the motivations and the back stories of why a home sold for an unusually low price when it wasn't a distressed sale.  They know relocations, divorces, etc.  It's helpful to have that insider information when another agent tries to use that comp against us.

Oct 26, 2012 02:19 AM #20
Shane Barker
Amerifirst Financial, INC. - Salt Lake City, UT

It's definitely a good thing to look like the professional and one who knows the ins and outs, but no one excepts an agent to know it all, so like it's been mentioned, I think it's all in how you handle it.

Oct 26, 2012 03:06 AM #21
Gary Frimann, CRS, GRI
Eagle Ridge Realty / Signature Homes & Estates - Gilroy, CA
REALTOR and Broker

Jeff, great post and thought provoking.  There is an old adage in law:  "If you know more than your lawyer, it's time to get a new lawyer!"  I try to make a study of my farm, which is the neighborhood I live in.  People do have access to a ton of info that was unavailable 10 years ago.  They also have a ton of mis-information, and part of my job is to dispel the myths.  Plus, having knowledge of the home buying and home selling process is essential to help a client.  That is where our true strength is valuable.  The client is the one spending their hard earned, after tax money and most are very careful.
The one area where I see the greatest danger (if you will) is in the information on short sales.  It is very complicated with recourse and non- recourse loans, what is taxable after the short sale, what is distress (being underwater is not a distress)etc.  There is more mis-information about this topic than any other at the current time.
I do have a former client who, like you said, pretty much made it a full time job studying the neighborhood and homes for sale.  When she decided, however, she was truly ready to go.

Oct 26, 2012 03:10 AM #22
Beth Atalay
Cam Realty and Property Management - Clermont, FL
Cam Realty of Clermont FL

Jeff- We can't possibly know everything nor should we have that attitude. With all the information available at our fingertips, it's almost expected to do research before you make a purchase, especially as large as a home. Doesn't bother me a bit if my clients have knowledge in certain areas more than me.
However, when they come back with my causin/friend or whomever who lives in another state with a Real Estate licence told me...that just gets under my skin.

Oct 26, 2012 05:09 AM #23
Michael Setunsky
Woodbridge, VA
Your Commercial Real Estate Link to Northern VA
Jeff, I believe you and your client are a team working towards a specific goal. Sharing information can be a two way street.
Oct 26, 2012 06:36 AM #24
Emily Lowe
The Lipman Group | Sotheby's International Realty - Nashville, TN
Nashville TN Realtor

There are lots of times when I have a client who does tons of research and knows a lot about the area they are wanting to buy/sell in.  I actually love it when that is the case!  It frees up some of my time to do more in-depth research on the properties they are considering.   Like... what is the best strategy for negotiating with the other realtor?  What has been the trend on this neighborhood for the past 10-15 years?  When I am given this time, I am able to learn all of these things I can present the most accurate portayal of a property's current status.  Then BOTH the client and I shine!

Oct 26, 2012 08:25 AM #25
Evelyn Kennedy
Alain Pinel Realtors - Alameda, CA
Alameda, Real Estate, Alameda, CA


I like buyers to know about the area and neighborhood they are looking at.  That helps me narrow my search for properties.  One of my clients is on the internet all day long.  She tells me things I didn't know occasionally, and I tell her things she didn't know.

Oct 26, 2012 09:32 AM #26
Hella Mitschke Rothwell
(831) 626-4000 - Honolulu, HI
Hawaii & California Real Estate Broker

Jeff: Wow, that reminds me of a client who had done research up the ying yang. She had gone around and found out what things were selling for and what had sold (she knew most of the owners). She talked to her friends at the senior center, and they actually ended up having the last word. Many of them were widows, etc. who "had seen it all." She gathered this information to sell her home FSBO actually. But she changed her mind and called me. Did not interview other agents/brokers. She had decided on me. After listening to her for a long time, I said, "ok, now you have to listen to me; as your broker, you will need to hear what my research and information says, otherwise I would not be doing my job." And she did listen, just did not take my advice. At that point I had a decision to make; take the listing or leave. I decided to stay with some provisos.

Oct 26, 2012 11:08 AM #27
Melissa Zavala
Broadpoint Properties - Escondido, CA
Broker, Escondido Real Estate, San Diego County
I do not think that I have ever encountered a client who actually knows more than I do, but I have encountered clients that have lots of information and have a lot of good thoughts and questions to add to the conversation. I guess I'm lucky.
Oct 26, 2012 12:06 PM #28
Tammie White, Broker
Franklin Homes Realty LLC - Franklin, TN
Franklin TN Homes for Sale

Jeff, I can't know everything there is to know about a large geographic area. For example, many agents in the Nashville area work all 13 counties surrounding the metro area. That is just too large an area for me. Instead, I concentrate on my county with my primary focus being Franklin TN. If a buyer or seller contacts me about an area outside my expertise, I refer them to another agent. I do want to know everything I can but sometimes it's better to pass consumers on to the person who may know more.

Oct 26, 2012 01:48 PM #29
Lloyd Binen
Certified Realty Services - Saratoga, CA
Silicon Valley Realtor since 1976; 408-373-4411

Jeff, This is a thoughtful post.  It's also an argument for us to specialize and not try to be an agent for everyone everywhere.  Just like MDs and attorneys specialize to be experts in one or two facets of their profession, perhaps we need to do the same.

Oct 26, 2012 04:10 PM #30
Christine Donovan
Donovan Blatt Realty - Costa Mesa, CA
Broker/Attorney 714-319-9751 DRE01267479 - Costa M

Jeff - You're right that sometimes they do seem to know more than we do, though I tend to find it's at best an inch wide and a mile deep, which is great in some ways, but won't get you through the transaction,

Oct 26, 2012 04:23 PM #31
Michelle Gibson
Hansen Real Estate Group Inc. - Wellington, FL

Jeff - I am constantly educating myself because I never want my clients to know more than me, but there is always a possibility it will happen.

Oct 27, 2012 12:48 AM #32
Barbara-Jo Roberts Berberi, MA, PSA, TRC - Greater Clearwater Florida Residential Real Estate Professional
Charles Rutenberg Realty - Clearwater, FL
Palm Harbor, Dunedin, Clearwater, Safety Harbor

You make an excellent point, Jeff and although we do keep up with continuing education in a wide range of topics, there is still going to be somebody who knows more. Embrace that knowledge and use it to your advantage when negotiating the deal!

Oct 27, 2012 04:17 AM #33
Renée Donohue~Home Photography
Savvy Home Pix - Allegan, MI
Western Michigan Real Estate Photographer

Very worthy feature!  This debate is ongoing with "consumer empowerment".  I love consumers who do "get it" but many do have the wrong information and we are always fighting an uphill battle with consumers who have incorrect information!

Oct 28, 2012 08:45 AM #34
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Jeff Dowler, CRS

The Southern California Relocation Dude
What's my Carlsbad CA Area Home Worth??
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