The waterfront Lake Martin real estate market is small by almost any measure: number of homes sold, number of school zones represented, number of builders involved.
Lake Martin is not small by two other factors – price per sale, and number of real estate agents per sale. When you look at waterfront sales only, the average price last year was in the range of $200k – $299k, and for Alabama that is high. Total Lake Martin waterfront homes sold in 2009 was 194. We have about 116 agents active, or almost 1.6 per home sold. I think this puts us in a “more than you can shake a stick at” category, despite that this is down from about 190 at the peak.
That means that the stakes are high for every sale. Granted, the commission dollars are higher than average, but the number each agent can expect to sell each year is also lower, therefore the competition for each sale is also higher.
It matters that you have an agent that plays nice with others.
Yes, it does, even in an industry like real estate which can sometimes be as cutthroat as our urban legend suggests.
So why choose a nice guy? Wouldn’t you want a shark?
Negotiations are fragile these days, especially for a second home or vacation market like Lake Martin waterfront properties. When I am dealing with another agent that I trust, that I know to be a truth teller and not a game player, I don’t have to second guess or filter their comments. I can concentrate 100% on my client instead of worrying what the agent may or may not be doing.
Do I really want my agent to be cozy with the competition?
You don’t need to be good with a knife to serve your clients well. Sure, I have been in plenty of contentious, balanced-on-a-hair negotiations with agents that I know and like. Was I too soft on them? Did I press it enough? No. Because we trust each other, we were able to get eyeball to eyeball much faster, without all of the needless agent posturing and preening. I was able to state my case passionately, but clearly to them, as they were to me. We were able to focus on what matters: the clients and the properties, instead of what doesn’t: agent egos and barb trading.
Unfortunately, no. Even inside the same large company, in any industry, there are always the people that you just are not sure about. You know that when you deal with them, it had better be in writing, in triplicate, documented with voice mails, emails, and pony express. It’s the same thing on Lake Martin, or in any real estate market, I assume.
Another Lake Martin Realtor (who will remain nameless) saw a FSBO advertisement and thought it was one of my active listings. He was concerned that my client was intentionally trying to be fraudulent with me and my listing agreement. It turned out it wasn’t mine, but I really appreciated the fact that a member of “the competition” would be looking out for me like that, especially when he had more to lose than to gain by pointing it out to me. So – Mr. Agent (you know who you are) – when you read this, thanks again. You are one of the nice ones.