By Dave Twombly
I was recently interviewed by potential clients about our services. One of the two towns they are looking in is just outside of our coverage area. The potential client asked if working with us would put them at a disadvantage. Here is the question and my reply.
I know that you have a lot more familiarity with Bedford than Burlington. So, in all honesty, our major concern is that, if we chose to work with you, we would be at a disadvantage in terms of your knowledge of the Burlington market (which, from what I hear, is interesting, in that a couple of companies basically hold all of the listings and one of them in particular is notoriously difficult to deal with). We don’t know about the ins and outs of the real estate market in this town, and that’s where we’d be relying on our agent to guide us. And with our timeline constraints that we’re looking at, we would feel most comfortable working with someone who knows, or would be committed to learning quickly about, Burlington.
The scenario you describe, one real estate agency dominating a town, is typical. There is always one “top producer,” who has a lion’s share of the listings. It’s pretty much how it goes in every town I’ve worked in. That top producing agent is a listing agent, who is legally bound to get the best price and terms for sellers. Anyone else in that company can be a buyer’s agent. Those buyer’s agents may get some “pre-listing” information. In exchange, there is additional pressure to be in the good graces of that top producer. We avoid that economy of favors by being in a non-listing firm where everyone can work for the best price and terms for the buyers. What also happens is that we refer listings that we know about to listing agents; then they need to stay in our good graces. We like this model because it helps us keep you from wondering where our loyalties are.
The mechanics of making an offer to purchase a property are the same, regardless of whether you are looking in Waltham or Weston, Burlington or Bedford. When determining what a house is worth and forming our strategy about how much to offer, I have the same access to the same information that everybody else does. So we won’t be at a disadvantage in those important arenas.
Difficult agents exist in every town as well. I just dealt with one in a recent transaction. It was annoying for me and a little stressful for my clients but the agent would be difficult whether she was working with me or anybody else. It’s just how it goes in the industry and we do our best to shield you from it. Keep in mind that a listing agent has a fiduciary responsibility to her client to get the best price possible. She’s not going to reject our reasonable offers because I am an agent from Cambridge.
I’ll let you know if they clients chose to work with us or not.