When I purchased my first home in 2011, I used an agent my parents referred to me.
They had not worked directly with this agent, but they knew he had a reputation for knowing his way around distressed properties in Colorado. Being a first-time homebuyer with a commission-only job and a minuscule down payment, “distressed” was going to be all I could afford.
He patiently showed me dozens of houses — all in varying states of disrepair. He guided me through 12 offers on 12 different properties, where we got into bidding wars and lost to cash-only buyers.
Finally, we found “the one,” and I settled in to enjoy my home — until the itch to upgrade set in.
Should I use the same agent?
After I started working at Inman, I was amazed by how far technology has come for real estate agents. I read daily about the latest and greatest in CRM systems, marketing, social media, self promotion … all meant to “catch” the elusive millennial buyer.
I started running a checklist in my head of the things my agent had done when we bought a house together that were decidedly low-tech.
- My agent doesn’t have a blog.
- My agent doesn’t send me marketing emails.
- My agent doesn’t advertise online.
- My agent doesn’t use social media.
- My agent doesn’t use apps or patent-pending technology to track the housing market.
I thought I might want to “shop around” when I decided to move again. After all, a high-tech approach might translate into more dollars for my house.
After shopping around, I still gave my business to the low-tech agent — again.
The 3 low-tech things that mattered to me
We kept in touch — outside a CRM
Since I closed on my first house, I ran into my agent frequently. We nodded and smiled a few times at the grocery store. We chatted briefly at the local mom-and-pop pizza joint while waiting for a to-go order. We crossed paths at the gym a few times.
And the day he planted the seed in my mind about selling, we saw each other at the bookstore.
He does it all himself
In our two transactions together, I have never spoken to anyone but him. Not another agent from his team, not an assistant, not an office manager.
I know he has them because I’ve been to his office. But I also knew when I signed that contract the second time that I would deal with him, and exclusively him, throughout the entire process.
This meant early morning lockbox delivery, Saturday evening panic calls about a roof inspection, and personally answering every email and text message, no matter how mundane.
He had the most common-sense approach to selling
Of the five agents I talked to about potentially listing my house, three were all about the bells and whistles. They spoke about 3-D tours, custom websites, professional marketing packages and photographer fees.
Another one focused on how he was going to save me commission money by offering me a discount the other agents wouldn’t match.
The truth is, I live in the best school district in my state, in an entry-level home, in a sought-after neighborhood where houses sell within 10 days of being listed, often with multiple offers.
My low-tech agent simply said: “We will list and then hold all the showings on the same weekend. That way, we will show there’s demand and encourage bidding over asking price.”
The result: We had 65 showings over 2.5 days, followed by 6 offers — 3 of which were over asking price — and the house was under contract in less than a week.
So next time? I’m going with the low-tech agent again.
Astrid Storey is Inman’s creative director.