Almost every real estate market has its Super Star agent, or two, the agent who seems to stand out from the crowd and has set himself apart by virtue of superior performance and reputation. In higher end, and more visible markets such as the Hamptons, Super Star agents often end up in the public eye as minor celebrities catering to celebrities, harvesting seven figure incomes in the process.
The biggest and most consistent money makers in the real estate business, however, aren’t the agents driving their customers from mansion to mansion. The big earners in the real estate industry are those agents who have mastered the listing process. And, more often than not, this skill set is of no value to a seller.
The greatest difference between an agent who lists (a “listing” agent) and one with a buyer in hand (a “selling” agent) is that a listing agent has the entire universe of real estate agents working on their behalf to bring a buyer to their listing. In fact, in most markets it is probable that over 90% of all listings are actually sold by an agent other than the listing agent. And when that listing sells, regardless by whom, the listing agent collects his fee from half the commission paid.
So if that is the case, that the selling agents do the heavy lifting in a typical real estate transaction (namely bringing the buyer) exactly what is it that your typical Super Star agent, usually a listing agent, brings to the table?
Is it superior marketing and advertising support?
Most everyone today has conceded the point that the internet is where the vast majority of real estate searches germinate so attractively presenting a property on the web with its own website has become routine. It is a low cost initiative. Driving traffic to the site is something else altogether, of course. Ultimately finding that dedicated website requires first finding the listing agent’s website, which is usually linked to the agency’s site. Only a few degrees of separation at work here.
Given the domination of the internet as the new real estate showcase, print advertising has suffered generally but the visibility that is print is exactly the medium where a Super Star achieves two objectives most effectively. The first is to mollify a seller who expects print exposure, but the second is to self promote and showcase himself to the public as the listor, thereby building his brand. And given that a typical super star listor might have dozens of listings there is plenty of opportunity to do that.
What ends up being most cost effective form of marketing? The old fashioned For Sale sign, with the listing agent’s name prominently displayed. Anyone can do that.
Broker and Public Open Houses? Super Stars have assistants to work those. We actually have been to an open house that was exactly that, open with no one in sight.
Showings? Once again, Super Stars have assistants for that tedious aspect of the job (unless of course the customer is a celeb).
Market knowledge? Given that a Super Star listor has broader exposure to the sale side of the market he might more confidently assess value without needing to perform the same level of research that a less knowledgeable agent might. Most property owners, however, have a pretty good feel for the value of their real estate.
An illusion? Now there’s a real possibility.
Almost all real estate agents are independent contractors who, make no mistake, are in business for themselves. Those who become Super Stars know that getting the listing is a lot more important than selling it.
That job is best left to someone else.