A complete service, courteous and prompt.
Not all that many years ago in America, there existed a ubiquitous industry that was your prototypical full service. It was called a service station, now called a gas station.
You would pull up to a pump; an attendant would greet you. “You want premium or regular?” “Filler up?” Your reply consisted of a yes or a specific dollar amount. The attendant would check the oil, check the windshield wipers (may have been some upselling on that one), and clean your windshield. If asked, the attendant checked the tires’ air pressure as well as the transmission fluid level.
You would receive all that service for the price of a gallon of gasoline.
You didn’t get your hands dirty or leave the station smelling like gasoline, having some confidence that the vehicle necessities were in good shape.
Today, we pull up to a pump, hope that it works, your credit/debit card does not get rejected for some unknown reason, and you remember to replace the nozzle to the pump.
The bottom line, you drive away with gasoline in your car in either scenario.
Comparing the gas station lifecycle to the real estate industry seems apropos.
Each year the real estate industry moves towards a less intrusive, automated sales experience with a singular mindset–complete the transaction.
The mega brokerages continually espouse their full-service commitment to clients. What does that mean?
First, understand the subliminal message. Unless you hire a brokerage that requests from sellers a specific commission, you will not receive full-service. Today that is usually 5+percent. A broker advertising anything less is called a discount brokerage with discounted service. Really?
When ZipRealty (I was an employee) was an entity of its own, the company was called a discount brokerage implying that they provided inferior non-full-service. The agents that worked for ZipRealty never considered the service they offered as inferior to any other broker.
Is this full-service?
The broker representative will help the seller determine the appropriate asking price. Advise on presentation and clean-up and provide professional photos for advertising on the MLS feeding the many 3rd party vendors that have access to MLS data. Have a yard sign placed in front of the property. May hold a broker tour and open houses. Negotiate, with input from the seller, the final selling price with agreeable terms.
Not to minimize the above activities, but almost all brokerages, regardless of their commission structure, will provide the services listed above as each item is essential. One caveat, there is one brokerage that does not participate with the local MLS, that being REXhomes. You can read that post here.
Friends, universally, brokerages will classify all the above as full-service. The amount of the commission will not dictate the inclusion/exclusion of any of the above tasks. One exception–unfortunately, some agents believe photos from one’s smartphone is a professional photograph.
I have one additional thought to the conventional definition of full-service. Does the agent have time to handle situations, as they occur, during the transaction?
I have found with high-volume brokerages (usually discounted commissions with a small agent count); the agents don’t have great follow-thru. The opposing agent will need to shoulder additional responsibility. If they don’t, the transaction could be in jeopardy.
Let’s examine the definition of full-service as I see it. Some additional services need adding.
Were pre-listing inspections offered, ordered, and covered by the agent? I believe these are important now that we are moving into a neutral market place. Buyers are cautious. Providing this information would build trust–good marketing.
How about staging? Whether the seller continues to live in the home or has moved out, the home’s presentation needs to help the buyer imagine the property as theirs.
Who pays for staging? Agents will consider this a seller’s cost, while sellers will say this is a marketing cost, “that is why I hired an agent in the first place.”
One note of caution–if the home is small, today’s oversize furniture will make the spaces look even smaller. Use well-placed accessories to add a splash of color.
Lastly, has the agent scheduled a cleaning service after move-out and before the buyers move-in? This happens all too infrequently, if ever. Sellers and buyers activity is at its highest; neither should have to worry about cleaning. Buyers will be grateful for the consideration. Don’t forget about the garage.
Smaller items, like move-out checklist or service provider referrals, could be added to the list.
The services mentioned at the beginning of this post are essential, regardless of how the broker defines itself. Must-dos is not full-service.
What do you think? Did I leave something out? Or did I overstate the definition?