• With real estate agents, you generally get what you pay for.
  • The process of achieving the successful sale of your home begins long before the home is actually listed.
  • Even in a hot market, good agents more than earn their commission by helping you achieve a higher relative sales price, and by de-stressing the whole process.

I’ve worked in the real estate business for almost a decade. While my firm (Macdonald Real Estate Group) is active in residential sales, we also have other divisions including commercial brokerage and leasing, project marketing (new homes and condos consulting), property management and our expanding presence in Mainland China (the topic of several past Inman articles).

I’m a “corporate guy” and my job with the parent company mainly involves working with our leadership team to implement the CEO’s vision for the overall operation. But I am surrounded by talk about the real estate market daily: prices, supply of condos or detached homes, buying and selling, etc.

Suite 310 - 2033 West 7th Ave - Vancouver, KitsilanoIt had been almost a decade since I had gone through the listing, selling and moving process myself. My wife and I live in Kitsilano, on Vancouver’s Westside. We love our 99-Walkscore neighborhood, near the beach and beautiful parks, extensive shopping and amenities.

However, we recently had our second child, and it was time to make a move. This meant listing our home with one of Macdonald Realty’s agents. But with over 230 agents in our three vibrant Vancouver offices, how was I going to choose?

After extensive discussions with my wife, we wound up selecting an agent who was both a neighborhood expert and someone with whom we had a good personal rapport.

The Vancouver real estate market is currently red hot. March 2016 was a record month with over 5,000 transactions in the board, and prices have gone up 15 percent (or more) in the past six months.

A very active market notwithstanding, we didn’t want to take any chances. Our agent visited our home in late January, five weeks before we put it on the market; he gave us extensive guidance as to how and what to declutter and fix up so that the home showed well. He also put us in touch with an excellent handyman, who helped with the tasks we couldn’t do ourselves.

After this work was done, he came back to offer a few final suggestions, and then he brought in a professional photographer, whom he personally supervised. He prepared beautiful online and off-line marketing materials, and he advised us on a price that was geared to generate maximum interest.

We listed in early March, and after a busy weekend of showings and open houses, our agent brought us five offers to consider. Even though all offers were over our asking price, he skillfully lead the negotiations, so we achieved a record price for our building, and we got the dates we needed for moving out.

Our market is awash with low-cost competition and firms that loudly advertise 1 percent commission or low flat fees. The message is: cheaper is better. And in a hot housing market, I’ve heard some people ask why they should use a real estate agent when houses are selling themselves right now.

The decluttering and staging advice we received from our agent, the photos and the comprehensive marketing plan, his aptitude in negotiation: these factors I would estimate earned us at least an extra $25,000 on the sale price, far more than we would have saved by going with a discount house.

As someone who spends his working life deeply enmeshed in the business of real estate, it was great to be reminded of an old truism: In real estate services, as in so many other things, you get what you pay for.

Jonathan Cooper is vice president, operations at Macdonald Real Estate Group. You can follow him on Twitter @jtscooper or on LinkedIn.

Email Jonathan Cooper.

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