Wondering What Your Real Estate Agent Does All Day?

If asked to guess what tasks a real estate agent spends time on, one might answer, “driving around to properties,” “preparing marketing materials,” or more cynically, “rounding up new clients.” But such answers overlook the significant amount of time that a high-quality agent spends on crucial background research, studying the local real estate market and how its ups and downs affect each home’s worth.

htbh5_1_1Here’s how Daniel Stea, a broker/attorney in Berkeley, California (and one of the newest advisers to Nolo’s Essential Guide to Buying Your First Home, recently out in its 5th edition) explains it:

“I spend a great deal of my day simply talking with buyers and sellers, as well as evaluating properties for them. We‘re always running “comps.” Prospective buyers want to make sure they’re not paying too much; sellers want to make sure they’re not asking too little. We’re always looking at what other properties recently sold for, since that’s a key indication of where the market is currently at.

“Sure, many websites will give you real estate ‘comparables,’ but these are generally based on the average price per square foot of other properties that have recently sold—strictly objective criteria. But that’s just the starting point. It takes a human who has actually walked through all of those properties to start adding and subtracting for various subjective attributes such as location, condition, schools, and so on. That’s one of the values of what brokers bring to the table and why their services will always be in demand.

Also, beyond assessing dollar values, we try to help our buyers get a complete sense of a property’s strengths and weaknesses. Many times, for example, we advise them to park in front of the home they’re considering buying at 11:00 at night and roll down the windows. How does the neighborhood feel? Would you feel comfortable walking down that street? It’s all part of the calculation of both a home’s objective value and what it is subjectively worth to you, personally.”