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Critical choice: Hiring Well Is Step # 1

Hiring well - sign of success, sale pendingHiring well is by far the most important thing you can do to make your home selling or buying as successful as possible. Real estate professionals, like people in every line of work, are not all equally skilled, hard working, creative, experienced, detail oriented, personable, accessible, or many other facets that will be important to realty consumers. 

Recently a cousin of mine sold her house in Manassas, Virginia and was extremely happy with the results. She told me “the best thing we did was to hire a great agent and then do exactly what he told us to do”. Clair and I have had the same reaction from our satisfied clients, too.

Hire well, then follow the guidance you’re paying for. That seems simple enough, but you might be surprised how often we bump into people who hire us for our expertise and then tell us what we are doing instead of asking “what should we do?”

Hiring well to meet or exceed your goals

If you are like most people, you want to sell your Silicon Valley home (or investment property):

  1. Quickly
  2. At a high price with a good profit
  3. With minimal stress

An extremely important factor in determining whether or not you attain your goals comes down to the guidance and service you get when you hire a real estate professional to assist you. So on this page, I’ll discuss hiring well, getting a great Silicon Valley real estate agent (hopefully a Realtor) and our seller services.

The Challenge Of Choosing An Excellent Silicon Valley Real Estate Agent

Hiring well seems like a great idea, but it’s not always so easy to do. Why not? First of all, there are too many of them!

In Sacramento, there are about an even number of agents and listings. Here, in the greater San Jose area, there are almost five times as many agents as homes for sale! In Los Gatos, there are only 30,000 people (18,000 licensed voters) but 800 Realtors. It is a saturated field, especially in Silicon Valley. It is very easy to get licensed, but much harder to make it a successful career.

Don’t just settle for any agent. Approximately 85% of new agents will quit the field within 5 years, and most of them will do so within 2 years. For starters, find an agent who has been through at least 5 years of sales. 

Now, once you are past the “do you know what you are doing?” stage (whether by lack of time in the field or lack of skill), you need help differentiating the other 6500 real estate agents who want your business in Los Gatos, Saratoga, Campbell, Almaden, Cambrian Park, or anywhere else in the valley. The next question should be, “Are you a REALTOR” or just a California real estate licensee? Check the local realty boards, either the Santa Clara County Association of Realtors or the Silicon Valley Association of Realtors (Clair and I are members of SILVAR), to see if that person is a Realtor or not.

Realtors are professionals who (almost always) do this work full time, they are committed to a code of ethics (above and beyond what is required by the law) and they take their work seriously. Should you have a problem with a real estate licensee, it is a LOT easier to get help from a Board of Realtors than it is from the state. So make doubly sure that your real estate professional is a REALTOR!

The Low Cost Temptation (not hiring well, in many cases)

Real estate agents can work with fewer people (and have more time with each) or they can work with many (and have less time) at once. When an agent does deep discounts on commissions, the way to make up for it is with a higher volume – meaning more sales or clients at the same time. If volume increases, something has to give. Maybe it will be that you don’t talk with THE agent as much, but instead the assistant.

Sellers who hire based on perceived cost, a low commission rate, may not understand the true value of an exceptionally good agent. A superior agent will be knowledgeable, provide quality services, making sure your home is marketed properly, will help you get through the contract, and will have your best interest in mind and will work to get you the best price and conditions.

I need to add that what you’re paying for is not just the time that goes into the sale, but all of the knowledge that your agent brings to bear on the guidance. This kind of thing is true for many professionals. If you needed surgery and it were relatively “fast”, you would not expect a small charge, because you are paying for not just the time it takes, but the training and experience behind it.

Hiring well should include looking not only at what the agent will cost, but what you will net.

Hiring Well: Choosing Between Experienced Agents

So you have decided to narrow it to Realtors who’ve been in the business for at least a few years and those who have a proven track record. You now have the top third that you’re considering. How do you refine it further?

  1. Do some research: ask friends and family for nearby Realtors they know, like, trust, and have worked with. A good track record is crucial.
  2. Also do a web search for your neighborhood, home selling in your area, and see who’s actively working the web. Most buyers will find their next home online, so you want to make sure any agent you pick has a good online presence.
  3. Check online reviews and / or ask for references and call them.
  4. Decide if you want a lone agent, a partnership, or a team to help you. Ask questions so you understand who’ll be communicating with you and how. Are those parameters OK with you?

Mary and Clair

Clair and I are a mother-daughter partnership. I’ve been selling homes for over 30 years and grew up in a real estate family. Clair is a 3rd generation Realtor who also assisted me for many years before becoming a real estate licensee in 2021 – she knows a ton and has “eagle eyes” that our clients really appreciate.

We usually are able to attend all appointments together, do open houses together, and both of us pay attention to the details of our clients’ home sale or home hunt.

There is some division of labor, though. I am passionate about keeping on top of emails and am usually the contact person and the lead for our projects. We keep track of our business using a system that integrates with email, and that makes it the preferred method of communication most of the time. If I have a call, text, or email with you, it’ll be noted, and Clair can check the program and be up to speed.

Our approach to selling homes is flexible and organized – we are perfectionists when it comes to your satisfaction, but also in paying attention to the details (because ultimately, they can cost you money if we do not!). We plan ahead and strategize so the whole process is calmer.

  • We will do research on the MLS and county records to check for sales that may be helpful in your and our understanding of the market and current home values.
  • If there are any pending sales, we will reach out to those agents and try to learn what we can about the sale price and terms.
  • Our marketing is both traditional (fliers, signs, open houses, broker tour) and contemporary (online promotions, 3D tours with room measurements, blogging, and more).

With our buyers we also take a comprehensive approach to give you the best data that we can so that you can make an informed and non-pressured decision which is in your own best interest.

Hiring Well Recap

Selling your home is a sophisticated undertaking. Finding the right Silicon Valley real estate agent is, too. Using superior sales tools and industry know-how, the right real estate agent will ensure that the process of selling your home is as painless as possible, efficient, and profitable, instead of frustrating, time-consuming, and financially disappointing.

Our goal is do do all of that and a whole lot more. Our testimonials and the number of repeat and referral clients tell us that we are on track. Most importantly, though, we DO always put your interests first.

Our goal is to turn our clients into my raving fans, such that you want to tell all your friends that we can be relied upon to help you 200% whether you are buying or selling.

The vast majority of the time, our clients also become our friends. Hiring well can be the first step in a long and happy relationship! Many past clients are happy to ask us for info and resources even when they aren’t buying or selling – and we love to hear from them and lend a hand.

Mary and Clair’s Seller Services

To save your time, minimize your stress, provide maximum security and help assure you net the greatest possible equity; weI will perform the following services for you, the home seller:

1 – Prepare an objective analysis of your home and the current market. This can be challenging when there’s a lack of data! 

2 – Provide counsel as to your best pricing strategy. 

3 – Provide value enhancing home sale preparation advice. (This is quite extensive and includes doing pre-sale paperwork, inspections, staging, and much, much more.)

4 – Supply our profesional sign which provides quality professional positioning. We’ll include an easy way for consumers to view more info online, such as a custom URL or QR code.

5 – Provide thorough promotion of your home to find your best buyer. Our fliers are 4 pages, color, and focus on your home. (Some of our competitors use 25% or more of the flier to get more listings.) Our online promotions are spread across Google, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram.

6 – Help assure that your potential buyers are well qualified to purchase your home. We ask questions of the lenders and the buyer’s agent to vet the home buyer. 

7 – Help identify and communicate your home’s valuable benefits to the potential buyers and their agents.

8 – Counsel other agents when showing your home to encourage the prospective buyers to buy now.

9 – Review all offers in detail and provide negotiation representation of your interests. We are using Disclosures.io to make this process even easier for you. 

10 – Provide assistance in obtaining financing to the buyers or their agents as needed. This is uncommon, but sometimes they run into problems with their own lender, and at that point we can step in to help.

11 – Coordinate the closing of your sale with other Realtors, lenders, inspectors, appraisers, attorneys, escrow officers, and title insurance companies.

12 – Provide on-going personal communication to keep you informed on the step by step progress of the sale of your home.

13 – Provide post-sale follow-up to assure your total satisfaction.

We may or may not be the person who will directly produce the buyer for your home, but we will be the people who will cause your home to sell and personally represent you in the process.

You can’t get these services from us unless we are your listing agents who are hired to represent your personal interests in the sale of your home. You have much to gain and little to lose by hiring us. If you don’t receive an acceptable written agreement to purchase your home, you owe us nothing.

Why Sellers Choose Mary Pope-Handy and Clair Handy

Hiring well, hiring us!

We are not a mega-agents. You will never be treated like cattle. Our business is based largely on referrals (and repeat business). Most of the clients who decide to hire us do so because they have family, friends, or acquaintances who have become “raving fans”. We are detail oriented, but above all else, wecare about people and about “doing the right thing”.

We play by the rules, but are hardworking and cutting edge and assertive in getting our clients top dollar. We believe in win-win. The best transactions are when everyone is happy in the end. 

Do your homework upfront and enjoy the best of everything – a great profit, a great buy, a happy rapport when it’s all said and done. Preparation is the very basis of negotiation strategy. When you set the stage properly at the beginning, everything else is almost easy. When you compare agents, please compare what they do, and not just the fee they charge. Often the better agent will “net” you more!

Something else to consider is working with a Seniors Real Estate Specialist if you (or your loved one wanting or needing to sell the home) is in retirement years or fast approaching them. SRES agents have extra training and a particular interest in assisting retirees and the elderly. I earned mine many years ago as I deeply enjoy working with seniors (and so does Clair).

Hiring well is a two way street. We are picky about who we work with, too. It can surprise sellers or buyers to learn that sometimes agents won’t agree to work with all potential clients. You may have noticed that we have on our sites “Helping nice folks to buy and sell homes”. If people aren’t nice, honest, and committed to buying or selling they aren’t for us. Of course we help past clients and prospects who are mulling things over or who need resources, such as the name of a reputable tradesperson.

We have sometimes let opportunities go when sellers did not want to disclose what needed disclosing or when they were basically  not behaving. Life is too short for that. It’s too stressful and unpleasant.

Mary Pope-Handy, Realtor Working all of Silicon Valley: San Jose, Saratoga, Los Gatos, Campbell

Clair Handy, Realtor, GREEN

CA Department of Real Estate License # 01153805

Related Reading to Hiring Well:

Sell one home and buy another (on this site)

Pre-sale inspections (on this site)

Why didn’t my San Jose home sell? (on our main blog)