The Charlotte Observer Hates Me…

…and from the looks of it, every other real estate agent in North Carolina. It seems that every chance they get, they take the opportunity to slam this occupation and the hard working people in it. Several months ago, in the midst of a battle in the NC state legislature over state imposed transfer taxes on home sales, the Observer attempted to minimize the impact of the proposed increase by pointing out a totally irrelevant, and also incorrect, fact; that real estate agents earn 6% on the sale of a home. Their implication was obvious; don’t interfere with the higher taxes, go after the bad, bad real estate industry. In reality, the average brokerage fee is actually lower than 5.5% and it is split between four parties at the close of the sale. The net commission an agent ends up with is much closer to 1% of the sale, and that’s before federal and state taxes, and the marketing expenses he or she incurs while working to sell a property. I know that my 2007 marketing expense is running around 17% of my gross commissions. So enough about that.

Now, in Monday’s Observer, a front page article by Mr. Appelbaum & Mr. St. Onge portray real estate agents as money-grubbing, self-serving narcissists who place the needs of their clients behind their own greed. The issue this time is realtor bonuses offered by sellers looking for ways to entice a sale. Look, there’s no doubt that bonuses are out there. But I will tell you from my own personal experience and from discussion with other agents, their presence does not drive our decisions on what homes to show buyers. There may be some agents out there that try to steer a client to take advantage of the bonus, but it’s a losing proposition if they do. This business is dependent upon referrals, and if agents don’t satisfy their clients’ needs, they won’t be seeing any repeat business.

When I show a home to a client, I couldn’t care less about whether or not there is a bonus. What I want is for my client to love the house, and make an offer. When I list a home, my recommendation to the seller is to either put any incentive money they have into the price of the home, or offer it to the buyer in the form of a decorating allowance or closing costs. Making the deal attractive to the agent doesn’t sell a house. Making the deal attractive to the potential buyer does.

Does this business have bad apples? Of course. But by and large, the people licensed by the state of Noth Carolina to help you buy or sell real estate are honest, hardworking people trying to earn a living, just like you and your neighbors. Don’t be afraid to seek their help.

Got questions about working with a realtor? Click on “Look Who’s Talking…” and email or call me.

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