Home marketing may be limited due to agents’ personal wealth strategy

From stagingworkstoronto.ca

If you ask a real estate agent about their home sale strategy, you may get a sanctimonious presentation of the best way to sell a house. However, if you question why they advocate specific procedures over others, chances are they will answer “experience.” Even in the face of an abundance of research, many continue to hold on to old and outdated beliefs about how to sell a house. Furthermore, consider that a real estate agent’s strategy to sell your home may not necessarily benefit your bottom line.

The latest study by Allen, Cadena, Rutherford & Rutherford (2015. Effects of real estate brokers’ marketing strategies: Public open houses, broker open houses, MLS virtual tours, and MLS photographs. The Journal of Real Estate Research, 37(3), 343-369) is the most recent extension of home sale strategy research. The study reinforces the outcomes of some strategies, while shedding light on others; and asks a compelling question about agent motives.

The study looked at home sale price, time on market, and the likelihood of a sale in relation to: broker open houses, public open houses, MLS photos, and MLS virtual tours. The results indicated that all four tactics positively influence home sale price. Additionally, conducting public open houses and having MLS photos have a positive influence on time on market. However, there is little evidence that having more than six MLS photos increases that positive effect. Surprisingly, MLS virtual tours and conducting broker open houses have a negative influence on time on market. The authors conclude that as a package all four strategies may be worthwhile to consider when home sale price is the goal, even though the time on market may be slightly extended.

However, if your goal is a successful home sale, you may consider another strategy. The study concluded that the probability of your home sale success increases when you have broker open houses, MLS virtual tours, and eight or more MLS photographs. The study found that public open houses actually decrease the probability of a successful home sale.

In light of these findings about home sale price and success of sale, the authors rhetorically ask: “Why do all sellers/brokers not use these marketing strategies in every transaction effort?” They propose that, “Perhaps the answer is that brokers follow a wealth maximization strategy that may result in an agency problem with sellers.”

It should come as no surprise that there are agents who have a “wealth maximization strategy” for themselves, and place their own needs before their client’s. However, the authors’ suggestion about agent motives could be problematic with respect to the National Association of Realtors® Code of Ethics (realtor.org). For example, Standard of Practice 11-2 indicates that, “The obligations of the Code of Ethics… shall be interpreted and applied in accordance with the standards of competence and practice which clients and the public reasonably require to protect their rights and interests considering the complexity of the transaction, the availability of expert assistance, and, where the Realtor® is an agent or subagent, the obligations of a fiduciary.”

If you’re selling your home, one takeaway you might have from this study is that you should exercise due diligence when choosing your listing agent. Consider discussing the sales strategy, and getting it in writing.   Additionally, protect yourself by ensuring that your listing agreement can be terminated without penalty and within a reasonable amount of time.

Copyright © Dan Krell

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Disclaimer. This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. Readers should not rely solely on the information contained herein, as it does not purport to be comprehensive or render specific advice. Readers should consult with an attorney regarding local real estate laws and customs as they vary by state and jurisdiction. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws.

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