Coming Home to Nest (or, My Most Important Post Ever)

Originally Posted February 15, 2009

Today marks a huge shift. For me, and I believe, for Charlottesville real estate. Today marks the official launch of Nest Realty Group, a team of four experienced Realtors who believe that the consumer has changed, the market has changed, and its time that Realtors change as well.

For more than a decade, I have found myself working at start-up companies in information and technology fields. I suppose it’s not surprising then, that I would head for the start-up route again. Each company in which I have been involved has existed in a mature industry, but has changed the way in which the industry operates. From a company that used genetic algorithms to train and schedule employees, to a firm that used simple (it’s all relative) bio-data from premature infants to predict illness before there were any physical symptoms, every company I have helped steer has believed that there is always a better way to do things. Well, here we go again.

Nest is another real estate firm. We will help list and sell real estate. To that end, we are the same as other firms. I’d like to think that the similarities stop there.

Over the next few days, I will be writing far more in depth posts about the ways in which we are different, but I will give you a few teasers here.

  1. No Dual Agency – Would you ask a Divorce attorney to represent both you and your spouse in your divorce? No. Then why would you believe that a Realtor could represent two sides of the same transaction? They can’t. In my posts in the next few days, I will delve into this more fully. Do I need to be at Nest to refuse Dual Agency? Absolutely not. In fact, I have never worked a deal as a Dual Agent, and I have been very forthright from the start of my career that I have no intention of doing so. Then why Nest? Because we believe that as a firm, our outspoken stance on rejecting Dual Agency will be an asset that Clients will recognize, and it will be a first step in establishing a higher standard for all ethics in our business.
  2. Experienced Agents Only – We are not a training firm. We are not designed to handle hundreds of agents. We don’t want to. We have built our Nest to house only the best, and only experienced agents. All of our team have been in the business more than three years, and within the next few months, we will all complete our Brokerage license. It is a company policy that anyone who joins us down the road will have similar experience and will already have or will pursue their Brokerage license as well.
  3. No Part Time Agents – Nest Agents will not be involved in real estate as a side business. We believe that Realtors who are not fully vested in the industry do their clients a disservice. The value that a Realtor brings to a transaction does not come from simply having a license, it is developed over years of learning every detail of a market and being able to interpret trends from that information. When a Client hires a Nest agent, they will know that their agent is committed to them fully, not just when they are off duty from another job.
  4. Technology – A quick look at our web site will point out that we are different. Clients can find information on listings, but not by stumbling through generic user interfaces. Our clients will be able to begin with maps, or schools, or neighborhood features, or price. Our searches can be saved, and they can be meshed with school information and proximity to shopping… and yes, even the closest vineyard.
  5. Marketing – I can’t go into too many details here, as we are still working with some providers to ensure that Nest does more to market properties than any other firm in Charlottesville. PERIOD. Consumers are changing, and we want to ensure that we are targeting every conceivable market that we can. This means using the MLS, as well as a plethora of on-line services from to Trulia, Zillow, and about 20 more. It means utilizing social media in ways we may not yet fully understand. It also means revamping the way we think about advertising media that we have been using for decades. Print ads are dead, but that doesn’t mean the only place to advertise is on-line. More about this later.
  6. Transparency – I work for my clients. It’s that simple. Anything I do in the course of business should be an open book. When they make an offer on a home, I will share with them all the information I have analyzed in helping them understand the market. I will share my marketing plan, showing information, everything. There should never be a question as to what I am doing to work FOR my client.

So, here we go in a new direction. I can’t express to you how excited I am to be doing this. For years, I have been writing about ways the industry needs to change to accommodate the consumer. And now, I look forward to being part of that change.

I can’t say where the industry will be in 5 years, but I can’t tell you without a doubt, it won’t be where it is today. We are in a rapid fire time of change; one that should excite consumers and Realtors alike. I can’t wait to change, and I can’t wait to see how the consumer asks me to change.

Welcome to our Nest!

Open House Agency

Originally Published January 5, 2009

15 years ago, real estate agents all represented the Seller, no matter what. Times have changed and more and more agents are representing Buyers. When you hire an Agent to represent you, you have a very frank discussion of what that Agent is going to do, and why you should be represented. But what about the agents that you stumble upon, say… at an open house. Sometimes it is the listing agent, and sometimes not. Who do they represent?

Quick info for clients out there: Open Houses are a way to find buyers. Period. The number of homes sold as a result of walking into an open house is tiny. So, the only other reason to hold homes open is to attract potential clients. Sellers want their home to be open, and buyers want to come see it, so everyone’s needs are met.

But frequently, listing agents have too many homes on the market to hold open houses at every one of them, so them employ other agents to hold them open for them.

If this agent is sitting in the house and a Buyer comes in without an agent, the goal is to procure them as a client, not to sell THAT house. But this is contrary to agency law. The seller has a listing agreement with a real estate firm, not a specific agent. Technically speaking, any agent who works for that firm should be representing the Seller unless agreed to in writing.

I went to show a house to a client a few weeks ago. Our schedule that day happened to coincide with an open house. It was being held open by a non-listing-agent. I knew her well, and she knew that my client was just that, my client. And yet, within 15 minutes of my being in the house, she began telling us where the Sellers were going, why they were leaving, how much work they had done to the house and what they still wanted to do. I’m not sure why she was telling us these things, but it certainly put the Seller at a disadvantage had we decided we liked the house.

If you are a Seller, ask your agent who will be holding the house open, and who they represent.

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