A good Realtor keeps her eyes peeled, and Dallas Realtor Robin Moss Norcross admits hers open up when there's ambulance activity in the neighborhood or old carpet on the curb. Those signs mean to her that a house may soon be for sale.
Depending on where you live, the housing market is either a wasteland of for-sale signs or inventory is so low that only bidding wars can declare a buyer. With more than 1.1 million registered Realtors vying for your business, it's time to ask: What should your Realtor be doing for you that you might not realize?
One high-energy Dallas Realtor guarantees she'll sell a home in 60 days or less or she'll sell it for free. A Houston Realtor touts on his website that he's an active and aggressive marketing specialist. Your Realtor should be all of these things -- and more.
Before the Internet, Realtors were the only gatekeepers of housing information, said Cynthia Joachim, regional vice president for Region 5 of the National Association of Realtors. Now, tech-savvy consumers can access most of the information themselves. But can they understand it and do they have time to weed through gobs of data?
It seems we need Realtors more than ever, with complicated foreclosures, short sales and bankruptcies plaguing the market.
So what should your Realtor be doing for you? The answer is this: The good ones combine high technology with high touch.
If they're not up on technology and they're too distant, they're just not doing their job. Here's what to look for.
High touch means the Realtor gives customers 24/7 access and personally meets appraisers to ensure that accurate, comparable information for the neighborhood is available. With high touch, the Realtor steers her customers (or her buyers) to a local lender instead of dealing with a national, impersonal one.
In the technology realm, expect more. It's not unusual to find Realtors podcasting about market trends, tweeting the latest mortgage rate or connecting with fans on Facebook.
Moss Norcross' agency even sold a house on Facebook. A friend of the Christy + Norcross + Thomas Real Estate Group site instant messaged the sale info to her next-door neighbor, who snatched it up.
Her real estate company shares a closed Facebook page with four area Realtors to stay in touch about new listings and hip pockets, or properties soon to hit the market. Moss Norcross also meets monthly with top Lake Highlands listing and buying agents and emails with them regularly. You want your Realtor on social media and hobnobbing with those in the know.
About 80% of all consumers start their search for a real estate agent online. Many are drawn to Web pages that demonstrate both market knowledge and tech know-how. While YouTube videos and tweets likely won’t sell houses, consumers find 'some degree of confidence that their Realtor is active in the market when they see her online talking about real estate,' Joachim said.
'We want consumers to understand that technology has not replaced or diminished the relationship,' she said. 'With cell phones, iPads, computers, email and text, we will be your constant companion.'
The Investing Answer: Relationships are still important. Look for a Realtor who's high tech with a high touch. Check out her presence on the Web, including online referrals on Yelp and similar sites.