Agent Choice: “License and Registration Please”

October 4th, 2010

Before you sign that listing agreement, or start working with a Realtor® to find your next home, make sure the agent is licensed by your state’s real estate authority.

In Illinois that’s the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation. Visit the Department’s website and confirm your agent is licensed as a “Real Estate Broker” or “Real Estate Salesperson.” You can do this by entering the agent’s last name, selecting Real Estate Salesperson (or Real Estate Broker) from the ‘Select a Profession’ dropdown, then clicking ‘Search.’

Confirm the agent is listed as either a salesperson or broker, his or her license status is “active”, and the license expiration date is in the future.

Also note whether the agent has ever been disciplined (if so, this is something to ask about). According to the Department, “if the ‘Ever Discplned’ column contains a ‘Y,’ there has been disciplinary action taken against this license. Click on the ‘Y’ to view details of the disciplinary action.”

An active broker or salesperson license is no guarantee that the agent is right for you. But consumers should consider it a prerequisite to working with any agent.’s New “Find REALTORS®” Feature – Worse Than a Phone Book?

September 30th, 2010

Yesterday Move, Inc. relaunched I haven’t fully explored the new site, but imagine they’ve made great strides with their home search functionality. Can’t wait to try it out.

Naturally I gravitated toward the “Find REALTORS®” tab located toward the top center of the page. You can’t miss it – it has a fancy orange “NEW” ribbon hanging just above it.

Curious, I clicked it just now and entered my zip code. Immediately I was informed that 1,527 agents serve my area. Interested, but a little overwhelmed, I hit the search button.

You’re going to love this. has sorted this list of 1,527 agents alphabetically – using the agent’s first name mind you – and divided it up into 150+ pages of 10 agents each. Think Michael Adams, Michael Burke, Michael Carter, Michael Dole, etc. After clicking the search button, I was randomly taken to one of these 150+ pages.

Are you kidding me? ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Making matters worse, the only other way to sort this massive list is in reverse-alphabetical order. I think the only thing worse – and more useless – than sorting 1,527 agents alphabetically by first name is to sort them reverse-alphabetically by first name. Where’s the beef? I may as well flip through an old phone book and randomly select an agent, no?

Stack of phonebooks

As before, offers no easy way to compare agents on the few relevant fields included in its agent search results. The status quo lives on.

This is the kind of nonsense that consumers, to put it politely, can’t stand. It’s also what in part inspired me to launch last year in Chicagoland. Our mission – help consumers choose the right real estate agent for them.

I’m not sure what, if anything,’s “Find REALTORS®” function accomplishes, other than frustrating consumers and inspiring entrepreneurs. Oh, but wait a minute. If I’m feeling like sorting my agent search results in reverse-alphabetical order, Zoran Denovich is going to be looking pretty good! (Zoran, if you’re reading this, email me and I’ll set you up with a free, one year Premium Plan subscription on


The Top Producer, Revisited

August 30th, 2010

My previous post on what a “top producer” means for the real estate consumer.

Here are some quotes on the subject from folks on Real Estate’s A-list. Thoughts?

“I know of a dozen ‘Top Producers’ who, through time spent or number of transactions closed, are driving under the influence of their own “success” but have no business being behind the wheel.”
Kris Berg

“Suffice it too say, real estate is and always will be a personalized business built off of relationships. There will still be many, many consumers that will be happy, in fact, more than happy to hire the nice young 22-year old kid they met at an open house who isn’t carrying 15 other listings and willing to kill for their one and only customer.”
Marc Davison (comment #13)

“I do think that its interesting that the number of units an agent sells is still equated with their proficiency or the level of advocacy and skill they bring to a new client or potential transaction – the truth is there really isn’t a correlation – you could sell a quantity of homes without being the best possible representative for a potential seller – maybe you sell so many because your sellers are intimidated into accepting the first offer they get or accepting terms that might not be optimal for them. Even the number of homes they sell in a specific market only shows where they are most active, not that they are the best agent for the job.While it does indicate a familiarity with that marketplace, it doesn’t mean that the agent is the hardest working, most creative, or the best negotiator – it only indicates (factually) that they had the highest volume. Perhaps I’m alone in the experience but I knew an agent who was extremely high volume and hard working, but really difficult to work with because they didn’t take care of details and were much more interested in facilitating the transaction than being the best advocate for their client – not that they didn’t do an acceptable job, but they didn’t do the ‘best’ job – and the cooperating agent always needed to be the ‘laboring oar’ in any transaction.”
Bill Lublin (comment #13)

Short Sale in Your Future? Hire Experience

June 29th, 2010

Over the weekend the Chicago Tribune ran a “special advertising section” on short sales, foreclosures, etc. One piece encouraged folks who are considering a short sale – from the buyer or seller side – to “hire experience.” Here are some highlights from the article:

When choosing a real estate agent on either the sell or buy side, one of the most fundamental issues to ask about is experience, says Mike Golden, co-founder of Chicago’s @Properties real estate brokerage. The agent you choose should be experienced in short sales, and able to take you step by step through the process, explaining how long it will take and your role at each stage, he says.

Sellers should also ask how the agent plans to market the home. The answer should be that the marketing effort will be as or more rigorous than that for a traditional sale, according to Alex Charfen, CEO of Austin, Texas-based Distressed Property Institute.

Buyers should ask real estate agents how many short sales they’ve completed, and in how many they represented the buyer, says Pat Kelly, broker-agent with Realty World All-Pro.

On a related subject, watch for future posts here that feature local Realtors® telling us what they look for when choosing an agent for themselves (i.e., when making a referral).

New York Realtors® Weigh-In on Commissions

May 12th, 2010

Earlier this month The Real Deal writer Melissa Dehncke-McGill asked agents in the Big Apple to opine on what’s happening nowadays with real estate commissions. Here are some of the most notable quotes…check out the full article for more insights:

On 6% commissions: “Some pay less and some pay more. Everyone wants to pay less, but I have had some [sellers offer] incentives. For example, someone who needs to move and will pay more if it is sold within X amount of time. I have seen a little bit of that.”

More on 6% commissions: “Every agent and company has different approaches in listing commissions. While our base commission has basically stayed the same, we are working to persuade sellers to offer high co-broker commissions to help encourage other brokers to show our inventory. We are even adjusting co-broker commissions on new development contracts signed years ago and on developments that are just coming to market.”

On “rescuing” a deal: “Lately we’re seeing an increasing amount of buyers asking what our commission is and requesting to leverage it in order to bridge a gap between a buyer’s offer and the seller’s counteroffer. The practice of sellers asking to help bridge a gap is common and, because I represent them, I’ll work with a seller in certain circumstances. However, a buyer asking how much we are making just shows how cutthroat the market can be today and how buyers feel they hold the upper hand.”

On co-brokes: “From a co-broke perspective it betters the chances of [brokers] bringing their buyers to your property when it’s at a full 3 percent commission as opposed to 2 to 2.5 percent, which we are seeing a lot of listings being sent out at.”

On direct deals (buyer without an agent): “There are more direct deals happening now than before. There were always agents during the peak of the market that didn’t co-broke because they had buyers coming directly to them. … [Now], I have seen more direct buyers coming to the properties because they have more resources at their fingertips.”

Chicagoland Realtors®, what say you?

Did I Oxs You?

May 11th, 2010

This fellow from across the pond is admittedly a bit pushy here with one of his prospective buyers. But from a seller’s standpoint, imagine just how low his average days on market must be! Enjoy.

Video Introduction to

May 5th, 2010

Here’s version 1.0 of our video introduction to the site, which can also be viewed on our homepage. Version 2.0 will probably be shot someplace else, and with a revised script, but with the same handsome spokesman. :) Your comments are welcome.