Realtors come in all sizes, shapes, personality types and talent levels. There are those who specialize in residential or commercial and some who do both. Some do allot of marketing to attract new clients while others rely on their sphere of influence and past clients. Some even specialize in certain housing types or certain neighborhoods.
I’m always perplexed when a home comes on the market represented by a realtor from way out of the area. This often happens on bank owned properties, but it’s certainly not exclusive to those homes. Usually we find that the realtor is a personal friend, a discount realtor they found on-line, or someone who markets to distressed sellers either online or by direct contact. In a fast moving market, this practice can work especially if all the seller wants to accomplish is to get the property sold.
The downside is that it’s impossible for any realtor to understand every neighborhood, and every neighborhood has pros and cons. A homes value can vary greatly based on where in the neighborhood it’s situated, and how the home compares with the other homes in the area, specifically those which have sold recently. It would be impossible for an out of area agent to have that kind of knowledge which cannot be ascertained by simply viewing the comps. If a seller wants to maximize their return on equity, a good local agent will be able to accomplish that much better that the out of area realtor. A ten year study in Virginia revealed that homes sold for 1.71 percent more when represented by knowledgeable local agents versus out of area agents. From what I’ve observed, that percentage would be much higher in California. The other caveat is that out of area realtors are almost impossible to get on the phone and they seldom return messages or email. The bottom line is that those listings take longer to sell, and they ultimately sell for less money.
This becomes more poignant with buyers. We often receive offers from out of town agents and the good ones ask allot of questions. Others ask almost nothing, and leave it up to their clients to figure everything out. I live and have my office in Morgan Hill. I watch the local market very closely and know where the good neighborhoods are, where the best schools are, and even where to get the best Sushi. I also know the areas of concern and although I have a good grasp of the rest of the County, I am no expert in distant places. Recently while hosting an open house, a couple touring the home told me how they had purchased their current home. They used an agent who didn’t have or didn’t convey any local information, and they aren’t very happy with where they bought. Their home is downwind of a mushroom farm and at certain times, leaving the windows open isn’t an option. A good local agent would have made sure that they knew where the home was situated, where the farm is located and the normal wind patterns.
Some realtors fear that revealing everything about a neighborhood might risk a sale. For realtors who place your interests first, it never risks a sale and it almost always guarantees that the client will be much happier with the home they choose.
At the very core of the realtor-client business relationship is a personal relationship. This personal relationship should extend all of the local knowledge the realtor can share. If we are working with local buyers they will already know about the town. But for those moving to our area from even as close as San Jose, almost everything will be new for them. This becomes exponentially more important if they are transferring from another state. It is important for them to know where the good schools are, the best restaurants, recreation centers, theaters, churches, shopping, commute routes, bus/ train stations, libraries, bike trails, lakes, golf courses and the list goes on and on. Only a competent local realtor will have that knowledge.
The relationship between a realtor and client is personal and even intimate in the sense that we are assisting them in what may be their largest financial decisions. Realtors should guard the trust placed in us, and do everything possible to protect our client’s interest during the purchase or sale of a property.

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