5 Things Real Estate Agents Will Do for Free

NEW YORK (MainStreet) — With the housing slump not looking to end anytime soon, real estate agents, brokers and licensees continue to look for ways to remain competitive in a slow market. These extra efforts often include offering several services that span beyond simply helping someone buy or sell a home.

“A lot of these services, people don’t know to ask for,” Justine Smith, a principal agent at Moxie Realty Group in Austin, Texas, tells MainStreet.  Since some companies have stuck to a more traditional business model, Smith explains that knowing what services are being offered free of charge by others can help consumers differentiate between agents in their area.

As such, MainStreet talked to real estate experts to find out what services many agents are willing to provide in an effort to keep your business.

Home Staging

Since first impressions can be key in swiftly selling a home, Austin Allison, a former realtor and current CEO of DotLoop, a company that specializes in helping real estate agents expand their technological offerings, says many real estate agencies now provide home staging as part of their listing package.

“Most proactive companies actually have a staging team or partner with a staging team,” he says. These representatives do more than just provide a few suggestions for making your home more attractive to potential buyers. In many instances, they will come and overhaul your home before they start showing it to potential buyers. 

Many real estate companies will also put together a virtual tour of the house that can be viewed online for no extra charge as well. Allison says this service has becoming increasingly popular as more and more homebuyers start the process of finding a new home by looking at internet listings.

Property Value Analysis

Smith explains that most real estate agents will conduct an in-depth analysis of a property’s value for a homeowner, using the data the agency has on record for recent sales in the area to determine its actual worth.

“Property values are like stocks. They go up and down,” Smith say. They’re also heavily influenced not just by state, but by neighborhood, so direct access to the most recent data can be much more helpful than just relying on online estimates. 

This sounds like a service that most real estate agencies should have in their arsenal, but Anthony Nitz, a Santa Barbara, Calif.- based real estate agent with New Century Realty, says many agencies will even do this if a client isn’t looking to buy or sell a home.

“Some homeowners are trying to fight their current tax assessment due to the values dropping significantly,” he explains. “We do this generally for anyone who asks. It's a long-term project. Provide value now, maintain the relationship and ultimately they become a client.”

“I’ll do this for anybody who calls me and asks me what their property is worth,” Smith agrees. “This could be a past client or someone who has the potential to be a client in the future.”

Neighborhood Analysis

Smith says she also provides information her clients with an in-depth analysis of the neighborhoods they are looking to move into.  While laws prohibit realtors from directly disclosing demographic information, they can direct buyers to where they can find the pertinent information and they can speak directly to what schools in the area are known for.

“People always find information about schools very useful,” Smith says.

Discounts on Local Services

Allison says that many real estate agencies are currently engaging in “affiliate marketing” by arranging partnerships with other businesses in the area that can provide homebuyers with “immediate access” to all their steps. This means essentially they provide contact information to reputable movers, utility providers, cable companies in the buyer’s new neighborhood so they can expedite settling into the home.
Many times, Allison says, agencies will also be able to provide discounts that can be used at nearby hardware stores, like Home Depot or Lowe’s, or even with contractors in the area.   

However, similar to an in-depth property value analysis, many real estate professionals will at least offer these referrals to people who aren’t currently looking to buy or sell a house.

“People call regularly years after they have bought a home,” Smith says, adding that she has provided recommendations for roofers, relocation services etc. to non-clients who have called her agency.

Basic Property Maintenance

Nitz says that while realtors may be getting paid for a particular listing, their fee doesn’t generally cover maintenance on a home. However, some agencies will do a few house-keeping duties here and there for homeowners who are renting a vacation property or have already relocated and can’t always get to their home.

“I have on several occasions watered the flowers, dusted, repaired and cleaned dishes,” he says.

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