Real Estate Market for Chicago Home Owners

By: Kris Kombrink

The days of dropping a sign in the yard, putting an ad in the paper and baking cookies for a Sunday Open House are gone. Today's real estate consumer is using the internet to gather information and make preliminary decisions before they even go out to see homes. If your listing agent isn't prepared for this shift in the industry, your home could go largely unnoticed.

Over the last several years the real estate industry has changed dramatically. Some agents feared it, some agents ignored it, but the best agents embraced it and learned to play by the new rules. The best Realtors discovered they now had to do more to market a home. They had to learn all the new avenues consumers would come into contact with homes for sale. Most of all, they had to be technologically savvy and have a proactive marketing campaign to get a home sold.

The first shift was from the individual agent to an entire team. This approach allows the agent to focus more on finding buyers for your home. The agent's staff can focus on marketing the home, processing paperwork and doing the day-to-day operations. Ask yourself, why wouldn't you want an entire team working to sell your home versus a single agent when it doesn't cost you a penny more?

Secondly, agents needed to be more proactive. Custom full color brochures have become commonplace in most homes for sale. Agents became involved in more direct mail campaigns marketing homes to neighborhoods and potential buyers. Some Realtors have even developed buyer databases that they can reference as they list homes for sale. These databases automatically alert them to matching buyers making an instant connection between buyer and seller.

A huge shift in the industry has been the internet and it's ramifications on how consumers are searching for homes. This led to more and more Realtor websites. It began with a few sites posting a picture of a home for sale. Then came virtual tours, allowing home buyers to preview a home from the comfort of their desk or couch. The latest cutting edge tool used by some of the best agents are home websites. An entire website devoted to a single home for sale. These sites provide more information for buyers than any other avenue, even seeing the home with an agent. These sites offer unlimited photos (both exterior and interior), virtual tours, property documents (like disclosures) available for online viewing, links to schools, area information, mortgage calculators, heck, you can even set up a showing appointment! What's next, maybe you'll be able to buy the home sight unseen!

Another shift has been in value added services. Consumers are doing more work on their own, they need justification for what they're paying their agent. More and more Realtors are offering value added services such as home warranties, home appraisals, home staging experts to prepare a home for sale and even FREE moving trucks!

Even with all this technology, the heart of the transaction still needs to be good communication and superior customer service. Some agents have unfortunately lost touch with these qualities as they have become more wrapped up in the technology. If you're considering selling your home, make sure your agent possesses these skills. Get plenty of references and find out how they will be communicating with you throughout the transaction.

Perhaps the last thing that is important when you're looking for a Realtor these days is some form of Performance Guarantee. Some agents like to charge a processing fee, or marketing fee, for listing your home for sale. If you decide to cancel your listing or it doesn't sell you're out! A good agent will provide you with an "easy exit" or Performance Guarantee stating that you can cancel your listing at no cost.

These are just some of the things changing the real estate industry over the last few years. Take this advice to heart when it comes time to sell your next home. A lot of consumers may be unaware of these changes, and what they should be looking for in a Realtor. Don't get burned find an agent that has adapted to these changes yet held on to the most important qualities like customer service and communication!

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