In my early real estate career, I worked as a manager for a small brokerage. The Principal Broker and I worked closely together to develop marketing materials to recruit the “right” agents; he often told me, “We don’t want rockstars, and we don’t want newbies.” When I left the job to work in real estate full-time, I encountered a Rockstar every now and then, and I got to thinking; why would a buyer or seller ever want to work with one?
How do you know if a real estate agent is a Rockstar? Here are the signs:
- She publicly touts her sales volume or number of transactions for any given year.
- She has several 7-figure listings and considers herself a “Top Producer.”
- She has scores of reviews, most of which do not name her specifically.
- She has a team of at least a dozen people and refers to herself as “we” or “us.”
- She has a whisper reputation of being difficult to work with.
Rockstars are great at marketing themselves! They spend tens of thousands of dollars on professional videos and search engine optimization, but do they effectively serve their clients? Here are some scenarios of what may happen if you hired a Rockstar…
You call Leslie, leaving a message about buying a home in the $300,000 price range. Someone from her team, Kevin, calls you back and sets up a time to meet. You make an offer on a house and that’s when things get stressful. Turns out Kevin has only been licensed for a few months and is having difficulty navigating through the contingencies. Three months and a few white hairs later, Kevin manages to close on your home. You never once talked with Leslie.
You call Leslie to sell your home valued at about $450,000. She wows you with glossy brochures and the promise of an open house every other weekend. The open houses are held by someone different each time, and you have a hard time getting any feedback. With your house not selling as quickly as you thought it would, you call Leslie and leave a voicemail. Her assistant calls you back with some generic reassurance. You talk to Leslie twice more; when you receive an offer, and when you close. Overall, your experience wasn’t a bad one, and you’re over the moon to have sold your house. You leave a glowing review for “Leslie and her team.”
You call Leslie to sell your luxury home. She calls you right back and sets up a time to meet the very next day. You’re impressed with her marketing, and even more at the price she wants to list your home: $1,600,000! She says, “Call me day or night,” and she means it. If she doesn’t pick up when you call, she calls you right back. After a couple months of little activity, she suggests a significant price drop of $400,000. You had a feeling the initial asking price was too high, but this was lower than you ever expected. Leslie says something along the lines of “It’s not like you can’t afford it,” and feeling pressured, you agree to the new price. Your house sells within a week, and you wonder if you reduced the price too much or too soon.
These scenarios are fictional, but the lessons are obvious:
* Having a team with “too many cooks in the kitchen” may not be the best process to fit your needs. Who do I call? Am I supposed to call the assistant? If I call the assistant, can I trust my message will be forwarded on? Is it okay if I call the agent directly? Why do I have ten email addresses to reach my agent? What is a transaction coordinator, and when am I supposed to contact them? These are all questions you probably don’t want to ask yourself during the homebuying/selling process. When you hire me as your agent, you deal with me and only me.
* When working with a Rockstar, you’re not likely to work with her at all unless you’re buying or selling a high-end property. And here’s the thing with luxury real estate: it’s a different beast. Homeowners at this price point are particularly aware of bad service and can thusly be high-maintenance. Agents can’t afford to let them slip through the cracks for fear of a poor reputation revolving in the country club community. And it makes sense why an agent would want to get their foot in the door of the luxury market; if every transaction is essentially the same, why spend energy impressing a $300,000 client when you can impress a $2,000,000 client? I assist buyers and sellers in all price ranges and don’t see clients as dollar signs.
* Rockstars can have an ego. They are used to telling people what to do; it is easy for them to forget that they are technically an employee of the client. Rockstars tend to have strong personalities, and when they’re challenged, they may not know how to respond appropriately. This is when you’ll hear rude or tactless comments, maybe even a raised voice or a bullying manner. A good agent is firm without being pushy. I never forget who’s boss!
If a Rockstar agent has a large team, she can disperse potential clients all day long while her crew divides and conquers. That’s not a client-centered real estate business; that’s a factory. Buyers and sellers don’t want to feel like a piece of meat being processed by several different hands along a conveyor belt. Buying or selling a home is not only a personal experience, but can also be a stressful one, and minimal personal attention does not suffice. I handle no more than three transactions at once, turn away business if I have to, and have absolutely no interest in becoming a Rockstar. I simply want to provide the highest standard of service. If you’re considering buying or selling, contact me and let me know how I can help!