The Good Life in Austin Texas

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What is a "Neighborhood Specialist"?

What is a "Neighborhood Specialist"?

Neighborhood Specialist?

Recently, a friend and I were on a morning walk in my  neighborhood, Lost Creek in the Eanes School District and noticed a new "For Sale" sign in the front yard of a home. As we passed the sign I saw a rider posted at the bottom proclaiming the agent to be a "neighborhood specialist"! My friend laughed and said, "Oh look, another agent who I've never heard of and they also claim to be a local expert!" I just laughed and shrugged it off but my friend whipped out his phone and dialed the number on the sign. No one answered his call and we continued our walk and talked about real estate in Austin.

Lost Creek is a beautiful area in the hill county of south west Austin. With just under 1,200 homes built from 1978 through the late 1990's and located in the acclaimed Eanes School District. The Lost Creek area is a very popular neighborhood and many agents would love to be THE "neighborhood specialist"! Frankly, even though a couple of agents in my area do more business than others no one really dominates the market and at least a dozen good agents live here. I am told by marketing "experts" that to command market share in any neighborhood an agent must have at least 30% of the market and no one does that out here. I sell my share of homes in Lost Creek and have done so since before we moved here and though I always like to have more business, I am happy with my efforts.

Last night my neighbor called and told me that after calling 7 or 8 times, the "neighborhood specialist" had FINALLY called him back. He started out by asking about the home price, upgrades, taxes etc. which the agent handled well but as my friend began asking specific questions about the neighborhood, local parks, shopping, clubs, schools and other pertinent details, the answers became increasingly thin. At the same time the agent seemed to turn up the pressure on the caller in an attempt to change the subject and clumsily  "close" his prospect.  At that point in the conversation my friend asked how many homes the agent had actually sold in the neighborhood which seemed to catch him completely off guard. Sensing the discomfort in the pause and before the agent could recover, he took the opportunity to say thanks for the info and tell the surprised agent goodbye!

I have to say that I don't approve of the way my friend wasted the agents time but on the other hand I have even more disdain for anyone who projects themselves as an "expert" or "specialist" in any business in a deceptive manner. When I first got into the business, teachers at the real estate school I attended urged us to "Fake it until you make it!" I never did that because I was afraid that someone would catch me at it and I did not want to suffer the embarrassment and beyond that, it's just plain dishonest! I realize that everyone has to be a beginner at some time but trying to impress others with blatantly dishonest claims of expertise is just going to be trouble in the long run. I urge clients all the time to ask questions and these days with the internet, buyers and sellers are more savvy than ever and often know more about a subject that the person they call. Whenever someone asks me a question, if I do not know the answer, I tell them I do not know but will find out. At the risk of sounding "old school" if you are not a true "expert", don't try and pawn it off on the public! It not only make's the individual agent look bad but the rest of the industry too!

My name is Russell Lewis, I have twenty years experience assisting buyers and sellers in Austin's finest neighborhoods. I am not all things to all people and concentrate the majority of my business in Central, West and Southwest Austin and the Westlake/Eanes School District. If you or anyone you know is anticipating purchasing or selling real estate and would like to learn more about living The Good Life in Austin Texas I would be happy to be of assistance. Email or call my mobile listed below for a private consultation at your convenience!

Russell M. LewisPage copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape 

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Comments

Too many folks in the business allow their printers and sign makers dictate their marketing strategy. Be warned when buying "universal" riders. Someone may call you on your newly purchased expertise.

Posted by Andrew Lenza (Weichert Realtors) 8 days ago

You tell em Russell!  The agent had it coming by making such a claim. In RE school, when they said to "Fake it til you make it", they didn't mean to draw additional attention to yourself by acting a fool.  For that matter, even a NON-Expert should be familiar with local parks of any listing they agree to market.

Posted by Amanda F Hall 8 days ago

You tell em Russell!  The agent had it coming by making such a claim. In RE school, when they said to "Fake it til you make it", they didn't mean to draw additional attention to yourself by acting a fool.  For that matter, even a NON-Expert should be familiar with local parks of any listing they agree to market.

Posted by Amanda F Hall 8 days ago

You tell em Russell!  The agent had it coming by making such a claim. In RE school, when they said to "Fake it til you make it", they didn't mean to draw additional attention to yourself by acting a fool.  For that matter, even a NON-Expert should be familiar with local parks of any listing they agree to market.

Posted by Amanda F Hall 8 days ago

Any agent with an internet connection can become a "neighborhood specialist."  Knowing more than the superficial basics before you declare yourself the neighborhood specialist should be rule #1. 

Posted by Cindy Jones-Northern Virginia Real Estate & Military Relocation Services (RE/MAX Allegiance #1 RE/MAX Company in the World) 8 days ago

I wonder if he thought about taking down his specialist sign or if it even dawned on him.  Or maybe he has so many signs out there he doesn't know where the call came from...

Posted by Evelyn Johnston Real Estate Agent Elkhart Indiana Subdivision Specialist (Prudential One Realty) 8 days ago

Russell, I cannot believe someone would do that but of course it happens all the time! Good to see you posting in your blog again now that the network is up and running better than ever!

Posted by Scott Harvey (AvenueOne Properties) 8 days ago

Russell, not only was your story well worth the read, I loved the way you summed it up at the end by introducing yourself and your experience.

Also, if I'm not mistaken, I read somewhere that it's against some Realtor boards to proclaim yourself to be the "neighborhood specialist".

I know you're too busy to look it up...but maybe your friend will make that call for you!

Posted by Craig Rutman North Carolina (Raleigh Area) Realtor (Home Buyer and Seller Specialist) 8 days ago

The agent is just inviting trouble as the actual neighborhood specialist is going to call them out on it.  The old Avis motto "we try harder" would work much better.

Posted by Jane Peters Los Angeles Living, Los Angeles Homes (Westside Brokers) 8 days ago

Russell:

We see this sort of thing all the time. ANYONE can call themselves the specialist. After all, who is going to dispute unless they look into it further. It really denegrates the use of the terms which are, these days, probably best avoided.

Jeff

Posted by Jeff Dowler ~ Carlsbad Real Estate ~ 760-840-1360 (RE/MAX Moonlight Beach (CA DRE Lic. # 01490977)) 8 days ago

Cameron I admit that I DO find this sort of thing irritating and love your comment that it's "just not in that neighborhood"

Andrew Well said, purveyors of catchy slogans that some anxious agent hopes will open the door to vast riches ;-D

Amanda WOW, Long time no see! And as usual you crack me up because we do think alike! I am glad to see you back here and hope to read a new post by you very soon! Great to see you here!

Cindy You are obviously a person who also takes our business seriously and are right about the "posers' who sometimes plague our industry!

Evelyn That's funny, I never thought of that! Maybe he is the master of every neighborhood that bears his sign!

Scott Yeah, It never surprises me anymore that people want to take a shortcut to success and BTW I am happy that AR is back online. I've missed blogging...REALLY!

Craig Oh man. I wish they would make that  a rule here to cut down on a lot of this type of misrepresentation! And I am laughing now because I just WISH I was that busy!

Jane So true and I do like your idea of using a motto that is more truthful in its representation!

Hi Jeff You have actually hit this on the head. The use of some terms over and over dilute and eventually trivialize the term completely. AND you have just given me a great idea for a post on another over used industry phrase. Thanks and have a great week!

Posted by Russell Lewis, Broker,CLHMS,GRI (AvenueOne Properties, Austin Texas Real Estate) 8 days ago

If you're going to be a specialist, you'd better do your homework.  Sounds like the agent wasn't prepared.

Posted by Kay Van Kampen, CDPE, Broker, Springfield Missouri Real Estate (RE/MAX Solutions) 8 days ago

Right behind you Kay.

Posted by Ross Therrien, Realtor, Broker Associate (Prudential Verani Realty, Londonderry,New Hampshire) 8 days ago

Sounds like he didn't even live in the neighborhood.   Knows the stats, but we can get those from the mls....

Posted by Dagny Eason Wilton and area of Fairfield County Real Estate (William Raveis) 8 days ago

Russell - I trust you; I just do.  I'd take that thinking to the bank and if the check bounces, I'd question the bank ... first.  Personally, I want my "specialist" to be trustworthy.  It seems in my young experience that that particular speciality is hard to come by. 

If I'm going to Texas, I'm seeking you out.

~ Lame, but heartfelt endorsement ends ~

Posted by Jason Sardi, Pretty Fly for an Allentown Guy (None needed;)) 8 days ago

Hey Russell - Good post! Must have shaken that agent up a bit...

Debi

Posted by Debi Boucher - "Realtor Showcase" Real Estate Slideshows/ Photographer (Memories DVDs - Realtor Showcase Slideshows) 8 days ago

Russell, there are over 150 subdivisions in my town alone.  While I know alot about the area, I can't know every detail.  I, like you, just say I don't know but I'll find out.

Posted by Tammie White (Keller Williams Realty) 8 days ago

Terrific post, Russell.  There are far too many "neighborhood specialists" out there who know nada.  Have you seen the websites that claim to have detailed info on neighborhoods all over the country?    Guess what?  They even provide unemployment stats for retirement communities!  Now, that brilliant.

Posted by Kirsten Lindquist (Pacific Union International - Christie's Great Estates) 8 days ago

Russell, you must have hit a nerve. I think we are all neighborhood specialists if we say we are. All we have to know is one or two things for sure, and WALA! we just got transformed! good post.

Posted by Bryan Watkins (LRA Real Estate Group) 8 days ago

Russell - Great post. I met few agents "Neighborhood Specialists" but not familiar with the streets in the neighborhood.

Posted by JOHN PUSA 01044712 (Citiwide Realty) 8 days ago

Nicely said Russell.  The agent had it coming.   He's a neighborhood specialist alright, just not in that neighborhood! 

Posted by Cameron Novak - Featured California Short Sale Agent (The Homefinding Center) 8 days ago

Great post! It is amazing how many folks crown themselves with these self appointed titles just to make themselves look larger than life. The proof is in the puddin' or so I have heard. But then, what do I know...

Helping you help others live their American dream...

Posted by Michael Thornton - Nashville, TN area Home Inspector (Complete Home Inspections, Inc.) 7 days ago

Morning everyone, thanks for dropping by! I am glad to see that I am not the only one who finds this sort of thing absurd! I am out the door early today but will return later to respond to your comments!

Posted by Russell Lewis, Broker,CLHMS,GRI (AvenueOne Properties, Austin Texas Real Estate) 7 days ago

Russell:

I think appointing yourself as an expert or "neighborhood specialist" can open you up to some problems that you just do not need. In any given area there are so many neighborhoods, it is usually impossible to be an expert in them unless you live there or have actually sold a number of homes in it. I like to be careful about what I claim - it's safer that way.

 

Posted by Claudette Millette - Metrowest Mass Buyer Broker (The Buyers' Counsel) 7 days ago

I love the story Russell. When you think about it that sign is really kind of silly. If you weren't a neighborhood specialist what would you be a "busy road specialist" - LOL

Posted by Bill Gassett Metrowest Massachusetts Real Estate (RE/MAX Executive Realty) 7 days ago

Russell, I don't think your friend wasted the agents' time.  I think any time an agent puts a sign up it's an invitation to call him, and sometimes the calls are productive and sometimes not.  And anyone who sticks that particular rider on a sign where he doesn't really know the neighborhood is a fraud.

Posted by Patricia Kennedy (Evers & Company Realtors) 7 days ago

I guess it depends on who is reading the sign as to how that is interpreted.  It good be a good think or something that scares people off.

shelton

Posted by Team Honeycutt (Allen Tate) 7 days ago

Hi Russell,

  If I was the homeowner I would ask him to change it, because the logic doesn't factor out.  Although I am the homeowner, that claim is intended to impress other potential sellers in the neighborhood or potential buyer clients, not bring more feet through my front door.  If there is precious rider space available for a goofy thing like this, there is space available for something that highlights the house.

 

Posted by Tim D. Wilson - The Horseman's Agent ™ (HomeSalesLexington.com @ Rector-Hayden: Lexington, Kentucky) 7 days ago

I hate saying specialist and expert too.  This is precisely the reason I don't go there with short sale listings.  Fake it till you make it doesn't work.  Admitting you don't know something (especially in this changing environment) and seeking the answers makes you look MORE professional than pretending.  I hate know it alls :)

Posted by Renee Burrows - Las Vegas NV Valley - Homes For Sale - Real Estate Market News (The Force Realty -Realtor>Estate>Probate>REO>Short Sale) 7 days ago

Russell you are so right.  I encounter this all the time since I "specialize" in Central Austin.  I do indeed consider myself an expert in these neighborhoods but plenty of others who rarely set foot in these areas market to convince the public they know what's going on there, even though they have no idea.  A true professional knows what they know, and has the expertise and integrity to find out what they don't--all with an honest representation of that to the customer.

Posted by Jeff Harris Your Central Austin Specialist (Residential Group) 7 days ago

Russell, Ain't it the truth. I do not know why so many agents attempt to "fake it til they make it" It just makes the rest of us look bad! Glad to see you back posting again!

Posted by Allysoun Musslewhite (AvenueOne Properties, Inc.) 7 days ago

Kay & Ross I absolutely agree. That’s what it takes to do a great job in this business long before declaring ourselves “EXPERTS”

Dagny Good point, knowing a few facts and key phrases is just an attempt to fake it till...


Jason My BROTHER...I appreciate that and feel the same way about you and ail the other folks with whom I’ve developed both business and personal relationships! And BTW I’ll take any endorsement at all as long as it’s heartfelt, THANKS! 


Debi I did not approve of my friend wasting the agents time but as he said, our neighborhood is literally bombarded by all sorts of solicitations for real estate. I still receive mail every week from Realtors wanting my business. He was just proving his point but then again, I do agree so he was just “preaching to the choir!


Tammie It is the same in Austin with literally 100’s of communities!


HI Kristen Yes I see this sort of thing and wonder if they realize what they are posting. Flawed content just show little regard for the facts and sometimes as your comment shows, reveals ineptitude!


Bryan I guess I did hit a nerve because there are a lot of comments on the subject, I cracked up at your term “WALA”


John I think that this happens when an agent is anxious to get business before knowing the ropes (ore the streets) Thanks for re-blogging!

Cameron Hey, I thought you left the 1st comment, thanks for coming back again ;-)

Michael HA HA indeed the proof is in the puddin’ and unless a person is qualified they should not advertise that way!


Claudette I absolutely agree. I am careful about what I project about my knowledge in ANY category. One of my favorite phases when asked to speculate about “values” going up or down is, “Well...I broke my crystal bll back in 1984” ;-D


Bill OK...that really is funny but you know someone is always going to be the “expert” an anything they can think up!


Patricia That’s a good point, false advertising is just asking to be exposed and you are right he does want a call so he needs to be prepared!


Shelton I am not sure what you mean but like Patricia says, all of us are trying to generate calls. We just need to be prepared to answer questions knowledgeably and honestly!


Tim That is another good point and yes though intended to show knowledge about a particular area, it probably does not “ bring more feet through my front door”. I like your idea of using the space for something more productive, maybe a url for a virtual tour of the home or some other relevant info?

 

Renee  I have to say that if anyone could call themselves a local expert ot neighborhood specialist, it would be YOU! You know more about your areas and YOU KEEP CURRENT! However, I do the same thing as you and do not go out of my way to advertise something that I am not! We both stick to our areas of expertise and clients working with us appreciate that!


Jeff Central Austin is an excellent area to work and as you know encompasses enough neighborhoods to keep a person very busy without going to Round Rock, Georgetown, Leander etc! Keeping it defined really works!

 

Allysoun Honestly I don’t believe agents just “think this up”! Like me many are told at RE School or by some misguide office manager or trainer ;-/


Posted by Russell Lewis, Broker,CLHMS,GRI (AvenueOne Properties, Austin Texas Real Estate) 7 days ago

I have seen those signs too and I always just laugh. 

Posted by Jennifer Carlisle, Prominent Title 7 days ago

Russell ... first of all I have not even seen this sign before but find your tale quite amusing!   I also answer like you and tell them I will get back with them if I don't know the answer!  pippa

Posted by The Woodlands Remax TX Texas Real Estate Remax Relocating TX Spring Homes Realtor (Remax Realtor, The Woodlands and Spring) 7 days ago

Russell, hopefully the agent educated himself after the phone call from the neighbor...or else remove the sign stating he was a "neighborhood specialist"...I would do the latter.

Posted by Rebecca Gaujot Lewisburg WV Realtor (Coldwell Banker Stuart & Watts Real Estate) 7 days ago

Well, was the home priced right for its age, condition, and location in the subdivision.. Were the photos on the MLS professional or taken with his cell phone.. Was the home staged properly.. How was the curb appeal..? Also, were you just a bit dissapointed the seller did not call you to list..? How dare they.. That is usually my first reaction.. ? Dont they know I am the best.?"  I wonder how many will now drive Lost Creek looking for that sign just to see who it is ..??

Lets go to Lockhart and get some BBQ and that will give us plenty of time to really trash 'em! Just kidding..

Revert to rule 82.. Dont take yourself so seriously.. others arent for sure..

"Buyers and sellers dont care about how much you know until they know how much you care." unknown

Posted by Buster 7 days ago

Russell

Our licensing board long ago prevents anyone from using the term specializing in any advertisements or marketing.

Ty

Posted by Envelope Real Estate Brokerage Inc 7 days ago

Russell - I see some of those signs around here as well, and usually it's a "one off" listing (i.e. they've never had another one in the area before to my knowledge).  I guess some agents have those on every single one of their signs, without exception?

Posted by Jason Crouch, Broker - Austin Texas Real Estate (512-796-7653) (Austin Texas Homes, LLC) 7 days ago

Hi Russell -- Savvy consumers will ask very pointed and direct questions which can't be answered in vague terms -- good for your friend!

Posted by Chris Olsen Broker Owner Cleveland Ohio Real Estate (Olsen Ziegler Realty) 7 days ago

Hi Russell,

I'm always surprised when I see these riders..believe it or not the community knows when someone is faking it! Residents know who supports their community with their time, energy and monetary assistance.

Posted by Dorie Dillard: Canyon Creek & NW Austin Living (Coldwell Banker United) 7 days ago

I'm with you... Expert is a term someone else can use to describe me (if I did a good job for them)... I never use the term to describe myself. I take a lot of pride in what I do. I know I'm good at it, I work hard at it everyday. Great story Russell...

Posted by René Fabre (ARFCO MEDIA - social media consulting) 7 days ago

Russell,

I live in a relatively small town and I know it like the back of my hand. I know what's listed, what's sold and the pricing, so I advertise myself as a specialist for this area.

Posted by Terry Chenier (Homelife Glenayre Realty) 7 days ago

Russell,  Great post.  I have been selling homes in this small community for over 24 years and I still hesitate when asked if an expert.....I am by most folks ideas, and I do know the numbers and the amenities etc... but I guess I just wasn't raised that way.  Under sell...Over deliver!

Posted by John Howard (Century 21 LeMac Realty) 7 days ago

I think it's very important for an agent to know a great deal about the surrounding neighborhood where they have a listing.  Also, it's a good idea to start with oneneighborhood to develop personal knowledge of home valuation and the "flow" of buying and selling.  As a new agent, I think it is important to have a consistent presence in that neighborhood or subdivision.

However, having the title of "neighborhood expert" should take a very long time to achieve.  Having a listing to market will not make you a neighborhood expert, but it should underline a goal.  You may need to market and sell many many listings in that neighborhood before you come close!

I have heard the "fake it til you make it" creed, but I replace it with "master what you need right now, and pretty soon your tool box will fill up".

Posted by Shawn Rooker (Century 21 HSK & Associates) 7 days ago

 

Jennifer I know that you deal with so many personalities in this business and I’m just glad you have a great sense of humor ;-)

 

Pippa Good to see you here and yes, just being truthful should be a regular habit. I think folks can spot BS a mile away these days!

 

Rebecca You would think huh? I believe that he figures that he paid $$$ for the sign so...Honestly, I do not know what makes a person think this way?!

 

Hi Buster You used to live here and know how competitive it can be! I do have to say that the first 10 years i lived here I copped a resentment when I saw another company’s sign in a yard but over time realized that I truly cannot be all things to all people. Of course you already kow that I have been a follower of Rule 82 for nearly 10 years so that has certainly made my job (and my life) a heckuva lot easier...and fun!

 

Ty That is a great idea. I am not usually for more “Board Rules” but this is one that would help all of us out!

 

Jason I get that and you know, maybe those sign riders come in a 12-Pack ;-)

 

Chris  You are so right and these days, consumers are more savvy than ever so it is a good idea to know what we are talking about long before the phone rings or the email arrives!

 

Dorie You my friend are an example of an agent who thoroughly knows your neighborhoods and areas of expertise! And you make a good point because the neighbors are around all the time and actually talk to each other! 

 

Renee  I like that and it’s always better when it comes from a happy client who is truly impressed with our work!

 

Terry That’s my point, defining your area of expertise as well as STAYING CURRENT is what makes us competent in our business. People recognize that over time!

 

John “Under sell...Over deliver!” takes the ego out of the equation and concentrates on service! Great comment!

 

Shawn Another good point “"master what you need right now, and pretty soon your tool box will fill up" and remember to be straight forward!

 

Posted by Russell Lewis, Broker,CLHMS,GRI (AvenueOne Properties, Austin Texas Real Estate) 7 days ago

Russell, I have a competitor who does the same thing in my neighborhood. God love them. They have to try anything to succeed. LOL

Posted by Connie Harvey Realtor Nashville TN Real Estate (Prudential Woodmont Realty) 7 days ago

Hey Russell!  Good post!  I have to admit, the only time my husband and I use "Neighborhood Specialist" is when we are listing a home in our development. That be said, living hear the past 8+ years and being on the HOA board, and we have listed the majority in here, we felt that we had enough experience and earned it. Now outside the "home" front, I would not dare!  :)

Cheron

Posted by Michael Lange, ABR, CNE, e-Pro, GRI and Cheron Lange, GRI (John Hall and Associates) 7 days ago

Russell:  I have seen the "specialist" claim from members here who claim to specialize in over 100 neighborhoods.  Is that really specializing?  I only claim that knowledge in the neighborhood in which I live:  Braemar. 

Posted by Chris Ann Cleland, GRI, SFR (Long & Foster, Gainesville, VA) 7 days ago

Well that is a lesson in a foot-in-mouth marketing approach if I ever heard one! 

Posted by Michael Delaware, CRS, e-Pro (Troxel Realty Co. LLC) 7 days ago

I've been on both sides of the fence. I resented it when an "outsider" would come to my neighborhood to sell a house out of "my" MLS that they didn't even have access to use. I have traveled up and down the state chasing leads that are more elusive than the morning dew just to be treated like I was carrying in some infectious disease to the local market. I've gotten over it.

One thing I noticed when someone would give me attitude over the "local expert" issue was they seldom were experts at anything. They didn't know any of the local town council meetings, planning board meetings, PTA meetings. What was being built on the lot down the street or if the house was in a flood zone. They just seem to like the sound of "local expert" and "all real estate is local" because, don't you know, "every market is different".

I am sure NJ is different than Texas. I was stationed in Texas  while in the Army and it is another world. We have 21 counties and over 600 school districts in NJ. To be an "area expert" is really quite a challenge. To be a real estate agent you must be able to take the ball and run with it. That means crossing over county lines and into school districts that may or may not provide you with the information the client has demanded.

Of course we could always claim to be a "short sale" expert or an REO specialist since each sale is different and you can buy the designation from NAR. Or, go for the second home, "e", ABR, SRES, whatever - it's a three day course that everyone that paid admission to passes and you become an expert - as long as you pay your yearly dues. 

I'm sure your friend had a good time with his game of "beat the real estate expert." It gets played a lot.

Posted by Gregory Bain (BayShore Agency) 7 days ago

There was a post about this very topic a few months ago. More than a few agents adamantly declared that "If you aren't truly a neighborhood expert, you should refer the listing to someone who is!". I laugh at that egotistical mantra. Any agent that feels that way better refer everything they get out of the handful of neighborhoods that they don't specialize in, but we all know that, that would not be the case. Suddenly that agent would think that their own advise doesn't apply to them.

 Advertising yourself as "The Neighborhood expert" may be risky, but what would be worse is, an agent that IS a NE, but who is terrible at actually marketing, negotiating and closing a transaction. I'll take an agent that knows the business over someone that may know how many pools a subdivision has any day.

Posted by Mike O'Hara (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage) 7 days ago

A sales person exaggerating his abilities?  Really? :-)

Your friend needs to get over himself.  There's a ton of stuff "he's never heard of..."

Posted by Rick Phillips (Appraisals Guaranteed) 7 days ago

If no one assigned your friend the realtor police, he should be ashamed. There's a reason to make a call like that if he wants to show unsuspecting buyers the light, but he did it just to prove his "superiority." I'm sure many real estate agents lie even more than that to make a sale. They never claimed to be the end all be all, and to some, they really could be experts in that they know the area more than a potential buyer would.

A good statistician could come up with 1,000 reasons why it's a bad time to buy right now, making most RE agents look foolish for spouting their "buy now" mantra. Does that mean that the agent or the statistician is wrong? I don't think so. The agent is trying to make a living like anyone else.

Posted by Phi Vo (Go Insurance Rates) 7 days ago

Complicated, what is the defnition of a "local expert".  Living in the community? Having your children grow up in a community?  Having lived for many years in a community?  Having sold many, many homes in a community?  Knowing everything about everything in a community?  No possible and I would bet that there isn't an agent around who "knows everything".  A couple of years ago I sold a home representing the buyer and the listing agent was considered a neighborhood expert, having lived there for years.  Trouble was her information wasn't current.  Changes at the train station and parking, changes in the school programs, summer camp cut due to budgetary changes, etc, etc.  As a buyer's it was my responsibility to check everything out, make the calls, go to the town and get current information.  This agent had been there a long time and thought she knew everything because she lived there.  While a lot of agents stretch the truth and shouldn't this is not so simple.  Also, asking how many homes that agent had sold in the area would not necessarily tell you his level of knowledge.  Another point is that I recently sold a home in a community that I lived in a few years ago.  I was not in real estate at the time and the brokers didn't know me and so when I arrived with my buyer the "oh, she is from out of the area" mantra started.  Meanwhile I had lived in the community for longer than most of them......

Posted by Miriam Bernstein (RE/MAX N.O. Properties) 7 days ago

I guess people driving thru would hire someone else to sell their home since he would not be a specialist there also???

Posted by Cheryl Ritchie, Southern Maryland Real Estate (RE/MAX 100) 7 days ago

HEy I agree with  all the comments about.  No one is an expert that's for sure. Saying you are a "specialist" may mean you have to prove it in some way, whatever that is.

Patricia

Posted by PATRICIA AULSON, REALTOR Portsmouth NH Homes-Hampton NH Homes (PRUDENTIAL VERANI REALTY- Portsmouth NH Real Estate ) 7 days ago

This is a great story and I agree we all have to be begginers at some point.

Posted by Jesus Sotelo Carrillo (Century 21 Jordan-Link & Co) 7 days ago

A faux neighborhood specialist AND taking 7-8 calls to finally get him?  I have never had a problem with someone from another area listing in the areas I cover.  However, I do have a problem with someone advertising themselves as something they may not be.  From the conversation you described, that agent was no specialist.

Posted by Barbara Altieri Connecticut Real Estate (RealtyQuest) 7 days ago

I could not agree with you more. I worked for a developer of a community for the first 6 years it was open, it is a very desireable community to sell real estate, and too often I run into agents giving thier clients mis-information.  The really unfortunate part of this is that the client has no idea until it's too late.  You could not be more right that everyone has to begin somewhere and the smart ones will loose the ego and ask the right questions for their client because that's the right thing to do.  Thank you for posting this!

Posted by Shawn Shackelton (Russ Lyon Sotheby's International Realty (480) 734-7277) 7 days ago

What is a "Neighborhood Specialist"?

Good evening Russell,

When I think of a true "Neighborhood Specialist" I think of YOU.

Posted by Bruce Brockmeier - Coached By Crouch (Internet Marketing Consultant to REALTORS®) 7 days ago

Connie There never seems to be a shortage of people who want a short cut around the actual work of our business!

Cheron I hear you and with your involvement there in a deeper sense than most folks you are one of the few who can use the title and stand by it with delivery of knowledgeable service!

Chris Ann Yeah, I know and there is no way that anyone could conceivably do a good job in even a fraction of 100 neighborhoods! Like you I go with what I really know!

Michael And it is precisely the reason I have avoided anything of the type when advertising my "expertise" in any area!

Gregory Thanks for the excellent comment, yours could have been a great follow up post on it's own.  I agree that knowing all the particulars about a neighborhood is only part of what makes a good agent. I do not think for a moment that a person has to live in a area to be an expert. Even in a market as small as Austin, I've run in to agent who can be territorial about their neighborhoods and resentful of agent who either list there or even bring buyers! It's absolutely ridiculous! I agree that as an agent one must be able to, "take the ball and run with it. That means crossing over county lines and into school districts that may or may not provide you with the information the client has demanded." A professional will do the necessary legwork and research and often learn more than agents who think that having a sign believe they know by proxy!

Mike I must have missed those posts because the statement "If you aren't truly a neighborhood expert, you should refer the listing to someone who is!" has to be the most arrogant version of self entitlement I believe I have ever heard. Again too, I believe that knowing an area is important but as you stated "I'll take an agent that knows the business over someone that may know how many pools a subdivision has any day."

Rick  Yeah, you are partially right, at least the first part. On the other hand if you knew my friend and lived in this neighborhood you would realize that he already knows what he doesn't know...seriously! The thing is our neighborhood is a plum for real estate and we are continually bombarded with snail mail, email, hand outs and anything you can imagine to get the business from all manner of Realtors so we get TONS of solicitations for agents who don't know squat about the area and who know how much they know about real estate in general. I admit that some of us are jaded at this point but if you lived here you would understand and I am sure we are not unique and judging by the number of comments it is the same in many other areas all over the country! Not meaning to go off here but just wanted to clear it up some, Thanks!

Phi Vo Hold on...actually our neighborhood is constantly bombarded by Realtors from all over the county for business. It's almost a joke the number of agents who would love to work in the area and that's not counting at least a dozen GOOD agents who actually live here. I understand your frustration because we are in an industry that allows itself to be abused on a daily basis because people seem so desperate for business and there is a lack of professionalism that the public perceives and so they treat the industry with disdain. It is up to the individual agent to set boundaries of what is acceptable behavior and what they will endure by what they project. Advertising oneself as a so called expert and just using the name is irresponsible and often just creates more disrespect from the community at large. Yes, we are all trying to make a living but some have a higher standard integrity of what they are willing to do to "make it" and not just "Fake It"!

Miriam Thank you for leaving such a well thought out comment! I for one do not believe that a person has to "live" in the neighborhood to be knowledgeable and competent. Those who do make a claim to being proficient in the area cannot rest on their laurels because neighborhoods are always changing or in flux and it's important to stay on top of things. Values in a neighborhood are tied to a number of hyper local issues and a agent needs to know as much as possible to determine market value as well as negotiate the best deal for either buyer or seller!

Cheryl Funny but you are probably right that some might think that the agent was only qualified in that particular area!

Patricia I agree, there have been some excellent comments adding to this discussion and whatever a person touts, they better be able to back up!

Jesus Absolutely and beginners should learn the right way to do things n any business and that for a professional, there are NO shortcuts!

Barbara I was surprised that he had to call that many times and truthfully do not know over what time period however in our business, phone calls must be returned as promptly as possible!

Shawn I appreciate your input here. I know some excellent agents who worked previously as new homes sales people in neighborhoods who went on to begin selling in those areas and they really ARE neighborhood specialists!

Hi Bruce,   I appreciate that but it's true that the majority of my business is concentrated in a few areas that I really KNOW;-D

Posted by Russell Lewis, Broker,CLHMS,GRI (AvenueOne Properties, Austin Texas Real Estate) 7 days ago

Russell,

Great post. I see so many of those signs on listing in this area too. A few simple questions would expose many of the offenders.

Rich

Posted by Richard Iarossi, Crofton MD Real Estate, Annapolis MD Real Estate (Long and Foster® Real Estate, Inc.) 7 days ago

Russell, there is a lady calling herself a Neighborhood Expert where I live whose office is over at the Beach! That's 45 minutes away. Come on! I never heard of her until recently she has been sending mailers a couple of times this year.

Posted by Frank & Sharon Alters, CDPE-Short Sales Jacksonville-Orange Park-Fleming Island (Watson Realty ) 7 days ago

Howdy and evening there Russell

Its sure never a good idea to take the road of faken it. 99.9 % of the time it sure will bite ya in the back side. It really always gets me when I hear someone teachen anything tell folks to do that.

Have a good one
Dale

Posted by Baker Home Energy Audit and Commercial Properties Inspections-Dale Baker (Baker Home Energy Audit & Commercial Properties Inspections ) 7 days ago

Well, hey there Russell!  I have never been very good at faking it either and I always tell people I don't know, if I don't know.  But I can know if they give me a few minutes.  I want to be the "go to" person to get the information.  My hard drive is too small to keep it all in my head.  I just need to know how to get it, I don't need to store it!  xxoo  So glad we are all back in the nest!

Posted by Susan Mangigian, West Chester PA Realtor RE/MAX Preferred, ABR (RE/MAX Preferred, West Chester, PA, RS152252A) 7 days ago

Hopefully that agent learned a valuable lesson, I am sure they spent several hours studying every neighborhood where they hung that "rider" although I can not imagine they had too many listings, nor will they be in business very long if they keep marketing thmeselves in that manner.

Posted by John Marshall My Green Parachute-Nationwide Referral Network 7 days ago

Great post!!!  I guess I have never really paid much attention to the sign riders...  I think I will fom now own.  Kudos to your neighbor- and I doubt that he wasted the agents time- hopefully that agent learned a good lesson.

Posted by Shanna Hall, GRI, SFR 314-703-1311 (Real Estate Solutions) 7 days ago

I'm a neighborhood specialist...I stayed at a Holiday Inn Express last night. LOL. This is pretty funny. It sucks that that agent had his time wasted but he did sort of ask for it. A little bit. Haha

Posted by Nathan Tutas (Tutas Towne Realty, Inc.) 7 days ago

Russel:

Funny story! What I don;t understand about people like this is, how hard would it be to actually become an expert of the neighborhood? A little research, a little walking around, maybe actually talk to some neighbors. If you can spend the time calling yourself an expert, you can spend the time to actually become one IMHO.

Posted by Agent Aaron | Hill Country TX Homes For Sale | Austin TX MLS | Avoid Foreclosure (Vaughn Family Home Team>Tax Credit>New Construction Expert) 7 days ago

Neighborhood expertise comes very slowly and over time.  Even in the are I grew up in (and still live in) there are things that I don't know.  Every deal teaches me a little more and increases my expertise, but that doesn't necessarily make me an expert.

Posted by Lisa Heindel, New Orleans West Bank Real Estate (Keller Williams Realty Crescent City West Bank Partners) 7 days ago

When I see "neighborhood specialist" riders it's usually a one of deal and frankly I don't think that homeowners are stupid.  Homeowners know who the specialists are without having to have those riders. While I don't agree with the one agent making a fool out of another agent I can appreciate the lesson. If I were a homeowner it would be more important that I had a marketing specialist rather than a neighborhood specialist.

Posted by Lydia Puller, Marin County CA Realtor and Relocation Specialist (Alain Pinel Realtors, Marin County Relocation) 7 days ago

Hi Russell!  I see that not only on signs but, online as well and it makes me CRAZY--especially when they're talking about neighborhoods here in Charlotte and I KNOW they know nothing about them--have never sold in them--and yet, the poor consumer has to waste their time learning this.  Great post, Russell--well deserved little gold star!

Posted by Debe Maxwell, Realtor® - Charlotte NC MLS - Charlotte NC Neighborhoods (Helen Adams Realty) 7 days ago

Rich I think my friend realized that after asking just a few pertinent questions!

Sharon I started laughing when I read your comment because this person is evidently announcing from afar that she is the area "Expert" and will be arriving soon!!!

Dale I know that we think the same way when it comes integrity and being the genuine article, thanks for the comment!

HI SUSAN Great comment, it's a lot easier being the go-to person when we make the effort to learn as much as possible and interact with others wo are supportive. I have a network of agents and folks in other area of real estate I can call on when I need to know more about a subject or area!,

John Actually that would be a better idea, researching the area, going on property tours and interacting with neighbors and other agents in the area brings a wealth of information and...expertise ;-D

Shanna Like you I do not pay all that much attention to others signs but was surprised ay my friends reaction as a member of the general public. I do hope the agent learned from this but who knows?

Nathan Oh man you crack me up and I see that the fruit does not fall that far from the tree in your family (and that is a very good thing)

Aaron Good to see you here and I agree with you that it just takes some research effort and some footwork to really get to know an area, I guess that some agents would rather just say they are specialists and not bother doing the work! I completely agree with your opinion!

Lisa You are right and frankly you (in spite of your modesty) can honestly say that you are an expert in your area because you are the best when it comes to the Westbank in New Orleans! Really, anyone who reads your blog or follows you on any other Social network will realize in a very short time that you don't just talk!!

Lydia Like Jason mentioned earlier, many times it is just a one shot attempt to project an image that is lacking in substance! And it's true that it takes a lot more than area knowledge to make a good agent!

Debe Okay, I know I am not way off base when you agree and yes, I do tend to follow opinions by you, Jason Lenn and yes...TLW more often than not ;-) And your comment about the public learning late or the hard way about so called experts is sad but true! Thanks so much for stopping by!

Posted by Russell Lewis, Broker,CLHMS,GRI (AvenueOne Properties, Austin Texas Real Estate) 6 days ago

Hey Russell! Good one! I have had that happen in the neighborhood that I lived in for 17 years. More important in my mind is your comments about HOW you do real estate and that is what I respect the most. I too can only do real estate to where I know that I can go to bed and get a good night's sleep! You are a good egg and glad to be associated to you! Liz Newell

 

Posted by Liz Newell (AvenueOne Properties) 6 days ago

That is why I get a kick out of surveys.  "A recent survey shows"...............  It depends who they surveyed, what they surveyed, where they surveyed and when they surveyed.  Even statistics can be thrown out of the window.  Just like the Yankees have won more World Series than any other team.  However, that does not make them any different than any other team at the beginning of the season, because half of their roster could have changed. 

I wish people would promote themselves on their own merit of accomplishments, not blow things out of proportion, because who is the one that defines who the expert is, not us.  Testimonials play a large portion, as now you have proven facts.

Posted by Don Spera, GRI, CSP, ABR, Associate Broker (Country Home Real Estate, Inc. York, PA) 6 days ago

Thanks for the article.  I couldn't have said it better myself. I see agents get caught when dealing with me across the table, and my sellers have embarassed them by asking questions. I am an expert of 2 neighbourhoods because I have lived in both for an accumulated 22 years.  I don't think you have to embelish what you can do, honesty and persevenrence is the key!

Betty

Fine Homes in Nine Oh Five

Posted by Betty Bart 6 days ago

You do not have to be a neighhorhood specialist to be a great realtor.  I, too, laugh at all the neighborhood specialists where I live.  Your friend sounds like a fun person.

Posted by Michelle Buckman (W.C. & A.N. Miller) 6 days ago
Your friend who called the "neighborhood specialist" actually may have been activator for the agent to dig-in and begin to field questions from callers. The agent has a current listing- he is doing what is necessary to become successful, your friend has helped this agent stay on-course with his questions. As are, the comments being exchanged. Nice blog.
Posted by Sean Regan 6 days ago

Thanks for your post that made me laugh this morning!  They are almost as irritating as agents who list properties out of their own area and don't bother to put it on the area MLS.  Big disservice to their client, and the client usually has no clue that it is the main reason they are not getting showings.

Posted by Lynn Afton, REALTOR® in area surrounding Big Rapids, & Mecosta County Michigan (Greenridge Realty Oakmont) 6 days ago

Great post, and I agree.

Posted by Val Vista Lakes Gilbert Homes for Sale Bill Travis (Remax Homes & Investments) 6 days ago

 

 

Search Wiktionary Look up Specialist in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.

Specialist frequently refers to an expert in a profession

An expert, more generally, is a person with extensive knowledge or ability based on research, experience, or occupation and in a particular area of study

Does not sound as if that agent has an extensive knowledge of that area.

Posted by Scott Guay Associate Broker Ocean City and Ocean Pines Maryland (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage) 6 days ago

Hi Russell,

I've never thought to make myself out to be the neighborhood expert in any neighborhood.

I can, however, make the claim that I do know about all of the neighborhoods in my city, especially the ones in which I have lived, and currently live in. Expert? I don't know about that designation, yet.

Posted by William James Walton, Sr. Greater Waterbury Real Estate (Century21 Access America) 6 days ago

I think most of today's consumers are pretty savvy.  I don't think the words "neighbourhood specialist" really mean that much to them, quite frankly, because so many have gone and mucked up the integrity of those words.  -- Tanya in Montreal

Posted by Tanya Nouwens, Montreal Real Estate Agent (JJ Jacobs Realty Inc/Ready, Set...Sold! Inc, Montreal Canada) 6 days ago

Liz I agree and as we have worked together for so many years I can attest to the fact that we both live by our integrity and are fortunate to work at a firm that values professionalism!

Don You make some excellent points here and I like the fact that you added the "Testimonial" factor. I have received business because of many of the personal testimonials I've received over the years and my client do not mind if someone calls for a reference about me. That sounds like another good idea for a post!

Betty You are welcome and I could not state it better than when you said " I don't think you have to embellish what you can do, honesty and perseverance is the key!  Good point and thanks for contributing to this discussion!

Michelle Thanks and I agree and despite some of the comments here, my friend is a really stand up guy!

Sean I appreciate your comment and hopefully the call may have made the agent think, Like you I learn as much from good comments as I do from reading a good post!

Lynn I do see your point and sadly many people do not realize that their so called "specialist" is mere that in name only but by then it is too late!

Bill Thanks for dropping by!

Scott That cool and thanks for leaving the Wiktionary link, I am a fan of words and believe words are very important, especially when used to describe the ability to do a job!

William I like your style but also the fact that you understand that it takes work and effort to master your market and marketing at the same time! I appreciate you dropping by!

Tanya Good to see you here, I've seen you commenting on other posts and need to check out your blog. It is true that people have been bombarded with so many Buzz words and descriptions that they are becoming numb to the stimulus or just plain cynical! Great comment!

Posted by Russell Lewis, Broker,CLHMS,GRI (AvenueOne Properties, Austin Texas Real Estate) 6 days ago

I agree with you about not faking it. You always get caught, like the agent your friend called.

Posted by Anonymous 6 days ago

After reading the post and several of the responses I have yet to see the subject question "What is a neighborhood specialist?" answered.  Scott #82 cited a definition for "specialist" but did not elaborate on what a neighborhood specialist was.  How far does the boundary of the neighborhood extend beyond the fence line of the subdivision or immediate area?  Could the agent have been referring to extensive knowledge of property values and trends, cost per sq foot, days on market, home builders, covenants and restrictions, flood maps, proposed or coming changes in zoning, etc.  Is there a difference between "area specialist" and "neighborhood specialist" ?  Can you be a "neighborhood specialist" if you don't live in the neighborhood?  Does knowing what "clubs" are in the area make you a "neighborhood specialist" ?

Posted by Lucien Vaillancourt (Realty Executives) 6 days ago

Be straight with people or no way for me. I have heard too many times that it's all about perception - well, it is, but you better be able to back it up.

Posted by Susan Thompson (Century 21 New Millennium) 6 days ago

Fantastic article, Russell

I am new to the home inspection industry, and "specialize" in vintage homes.  I believe I CAN stand behind that claim, with my 16 years of extensive experience restoring (historical accurate) pre-20th century and early 20th century historical homes to their "former glory". I also believe that someone who is a neighborhood specialist should have as or more extensive experience in that specific neigborhood.  I have many real estate friends who were born, grew up and sell in the same neighborhood.  My hunch would be to go with that agent, as they would be considered "specialists"

Albeit, I also restore vintage motorcycles, but in no way would condsider myself a specialist in that area :)

I believe no one can ever become an "expert" at anything.  That claim only announces you have nothing left to learn.  A specialist, however, only claims that it is your fortay.

Thanks again.

 

Posted by Rich Edgley (Greater Chicagoland Home Inspection) 6 days ago

For the most part the phrase "Neighborhood Specialist" makes me itch.  I agree if you're not at 30% you can't use that moniker.  I've lost business because I didn't specialize in a particular area, and I'm ok with that.  I'm part of a large REO team and I spend about 75% of my time running around two counties dealing with CFK and checking to see if the hot water is on and locking doors that someone else left unlocked on the ones I have possession of.  I'm working on one neighborhood with the hopes of someday being able to say I specialize in that neighborhood, but quite honestly, if you don't know all the floor plans and all the schools and the clerks at the grocery store, you ain't there yet.  So for now, I specialize in the truth, and the reviews have been spectacular.  ;-)

Posted by Valerie Crowell (Alco Properties) 6 days ago

You know what a specialist is? "Anyone that is more then 20 miles from home with a briefcase" Too many fall in to this category.

It is sad that so many have a misconception as to what a specialist really is: an expert who is devoted to one occupation or branch of learning.

Good job to your friend for calling him out!

Posted by James Baxter 760-271-9971 (Richard Realty Group) 6 days ago

Russell,

Having just moved to a new county, it will be quite some time before I consider myself a specialist in any of these neighborhoods - and even longer before I'd even think about marketing me that way!

Posted by Irene Kennedy Warren & Sussex NJ Realtor® (Weichert) 6 days ago

Russell  If you have to advertise you are s specialist you have another set of problems - congrats on the "Feature"  I've got to make mine worthy one of these days

Posted by Karen Kruschka - Prince William, Fairfax ,Stafford County VA Real Estate Service (RE/MAX Olympic Realty) 6 days ago
A expert is just a former drip under pressure! ;)
Posted by Ron Davis 6 days ago

No one seems to be catching on the agent NOT calling back.  What kind of agent wouldn't call back to an potential buyer?  Oh, I know, the kind who's the specialist - the specialist at not providing timely returned calls!!!!!

Posted by Juli Vosmik (Dominion Real Estate Partners, LLC, Scottsdale, AZ) 6 days ago

I'm glad your neighbor put the agent 'on the spot'.  Maybe they'll think twice before doing it again.  The must realize that they came across to the 'potential buyer' as lacking knowledge and not having basic information on the neighborhood.  If the 'potential buyer' doesn't get a sense of reliability and trust from the agent, they're not going to get that contact as a client and they're further damaging our image as realtors as a whole.  Kind of like all the 'short sale specialists'..

Posted by Catherine Condon (Integrity Residential Brokerage) 6 days ago

Excellent post.  I agree with you about honest and integrity in our business.  I get annoyed at the "fake it or make it approach".  It brings down the level of professionalism.  And we can make a name ryder to say anything.  If more agents were called on their claims as your friend did with this agent, it might make them think before putting claims out there.  Also I see agents on twitter or facebook claiming daily "wrote another contract" or "sold another home".  Sometimes I go to mls just to see how their claims pan out and am amazed that they haven't sold anything for 6 monthss! 

Posted by Ann Dail, Broker/Realtor,ePRO, SRS, B.A.Chem (Baton Rouge Area Homes, Louisiana, 225-761-0551) 6 days ago

The 'neighborhood specialist' rider is what I call 'puffery', kind of like 'walk to the water' in our area (Cape Cod).  I agree with most of the folks in this thread that one of the keys to expertise is 'knowing what you don't know.'  I'm not sure of your buddy's game of 'Gotcha' - even a bona fide expert can be ambushed.  

Posted by J. Stephen Gregory (ERA Cape Real Estate) 6 days ago

Thanks Russell. I have always lived by the "honesty is the best policy code." You should never be afraid telling someone you don't know, but will find out. While I do apreciate someone who truly is a specialist and all the dedication that goes into that title, most are specialists in name only.

Posted by Dave Balbas 6 days ago

The terms "expert" and "specialist" do work, unfortunately.  I have a business colleague who has worked and lived in the same community for 15 years.  She listed a home for friends who insisted it be priced above market.  My colleague agonized over this listing for almost nine months.  In any event, these friends asked if they could terminate the contract and go with "the neighborhood expert".  This expert did nothing different except the sellers decided to allow her to list the home at a price the market would bear.  They sold w/in 30 days.   

I do not list homes without knowing the community.  I will say, however, that if an agent does his/her due diligence, it is possible to learn the ins and outs of a community fairly thoroughly and quickly.  This guy who claimed to be an expert but did not know the community amenities is not doing his seller any favors.  And he is not doing his job.  It's easy to slap a for sale sign in a yard but serious listing agents work hard to know the areas and market the homes they list.

Posted by Kris Hoch (Realty Associates) 6 days ago

But at what point can you consider yourself a specialist? When you worked a certain amount of time or when you learned the stats over the years or when you know when every event in town is or when you know all the biz in every corridor. When is it exactly?

Posted by Bev and Bob Meaux - Maplewood, New Jersey area (Towne Realty Group, LLC) 6 days ago

Your friend called his bluff and the agent lost the hand.  This could be an ethics violation for not painting a true picture in advertising.  I get flyers from this one couple who claim to be the neighborhood specialist yet they do this is every single neighborhood they put flyers in so this is a good example of not being honest.

Now then, what makes a specialist?  In my opinion, experience and knowledge of a particular area.  The agent in question had neither and now looks like a damn fool.  We all had to start somewhere but being honest in all that we do should be the main thing we should remember.

Posted by Russell Benson (Prudential Alliance Realty-OKC, OK) 6 days ago

Thanks for your post.  I wonder if the agent even remembers he put that sign rider out.  I also find it troubling, but not surprising that it took so many calls to get a response.

Posted by Judy Pool Homan 6 days ago

One of the things about the term  "neighborhood specialist"  is that the definition is so loose that someone who has only set foot in the subdivision in order  to plant the "For Sale" sign can make that claim.

Posted by Ruthmarie Hicks (Keller Williams Realty) 6 days ago

It backfires on any agent when trying to do this in an area that it is evident he/she is not the specialist.  This has happened to me for years, and the agents always go away in time.  If they have built a good reputation in the area as a specialist, then you may have competition.  I like things like this as it keeps you on your toes to make sure you are doing the things that makes you the neighborhood specialist.  OK, I will take my rider down......(jk)

Posted by Tim Moncrief (Bartlett Real Estate Group of Keller Williams ) 6 days ago

Good article!  I am always willing to give everybody the "benefit of the doubt".  I believe from the agent's views, he understood the values related to active listings (active, pending, backup) and solds within the neighborhood.  With this, he felt that as a professional real estate agent, he had a confidence in knowing those statistics so that if a resident within say a 1/2-mile were to call in, ask for info on the property, maybe was considering listing, or even buying, he could assist with the utmost specialized level of realtor service. 

Now, from the resident's view, yes, in his/her eyes, no agent, unless one that lives in the neighborhood, knows the neighborhood better with regards to the tangibles within it such as neighbors, animals, trees, pools, lousy neighbors, good neighbors, kids, parents, cars, jobs, etc.  But, does the resident know the values, activity, how many active listings, how many solds, how many fell out of escrow, concessions, traditional sales vs distressed sales/listings, avg/median values, trends of the neighborhood market, etc.?

When I see agents express their opinions of other agents in a derogatory, negative way, it's disappointing.  I do agree there are agents that should not be agents as they may be in the profession for the wrong reasons, but if I had recieved that call speaking to that prospect on the phone, querying me with those questions, I simply would have responded that, I specialize in the real estate statisics of the neighborhood with regards to the values, activity, styles...and if the caller was from the neighborhood, and disclosed that early in the conversation, I would turn the conversation around when asking specific questions about the neighborhood that would only be known by a resident, that he/she was a neighborhood specialist as well.  That agent may have had all the right intentions when he had the slider added.  That agent may be a very good, highly respected one within his respective market.  But as I scroll down this blog of responses and see so many derogatory statements...well, let's consider encouragement rather than discouragement. 

The best method of determining the professionalism of another fellow agent who may market himself/herself as a "specialist" of some sort, is when you have the opportunity to work with him/her on a transaction, (and you know it may happen as when you look at your market, everybody knows everybody and sooner or later, you will come around to working with them on a transaction).  If there is a high level of professionalism from the agent I'm working with, it tends to encourage me to match or exceed that as I reciprocate my work.  If not a high level of specialized realtor work, I will keep a proactive position and encourage the other agent as we move towards a solid closing.  I love our real estate business that we are in!  Working with someone for the first time is always a great opportunity to better my communication and interactive skills, and in some cases, present a great opportunity to be a leader or student.

Posted by Robert Toloy 6 days ago

I think a lot of these guys want a tag line and that one sounds nice to them.  They put it up without thinking.

Posted by Gene Riemenschneider East Contra Costa Home Sales 01492725 (Home Point Real Estate) 6 days ago

Wow!  Double whammy to that listing agent, based upon a simple sign meant to earn brownie points and attract new listings.....after all, he/she already HAD that listing!  After numerous calls ignored (my understanding as the public's biggest complaint with real estate practiioners) and the inability to "produce" expert answers, any Seller or Buyer would have simply gone down the list to "next" - just the perception that we are all attempting to dispell daily in our industry!

Posted by Lisa (Elizabeth) Matthews (Realty Austin) 6 days ago

Russell,

Too amusing!  I hope the agent thinks again before using that self proclamation again.  Unless they become one.

Posted by Eugene Adan, N. San Diego County Homes, Adan Properties 6 days ago

Russell,

From the response you got to your blog, it appears to be very timely. I enjoyed both the blog and the responses.

Posted by Bob Sweazy (Prudential A. S. de Movellan Real Estate) 6 days ago

great post

Posted by Anonymous 6 days ago

Russell, I'm right there with you.  I would never claim to be an expert in something I really didn't know much about.  Faking it until you make it is NOT the way to go although there are a lot of people that do it in all aspects of their lives and careers.  Have a great weekend!

Chanda panda

Posted by Chanda Barrick REALTOR (Indianapolis, Avon, Greenwood) (1st Choice Real Estate Group) 6 days ago

Be ernest and you will get respect!

Posted by Fred Sweezer Sr. (Property Inspection Services) 6 days ago

What good is it to be an "expert" if it takes 7-8 calls to get a response??  You've already lost your credibility before you say "Hello, I'm returning your call"!

Posted by Liz and Bill Spear (RE/MAX Elite) 6 days ago

I agree that faking it is not a good idea.  I am a newer agent, and I find that telling people that upfront helps me.  It shows that I am not "faking" anything, and that I am honest.  I assure them that I work with a group of highly experienced agents, and that I have a vast amount of knowledge available to help me if something comes up that I don't know.  They seem fine with that.  Plus, it makes me more comfortable to not try and be something I am not. 

Posted by Denise Pudim (Kear Realty, Inc.) 6 days ago

There are many ways to make it known you're a "neighborhood specialist" if you really are! I use my blog as an outlet...

Posted by SHANTEE HAYNES (Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc.) 6 days ago

I have to agree you shouldn't put anything on your sign that you can not back up. I don't think your friend did anything wrong either, the agent ask for it by lying.

Posted by United Realty of Texas 6 days ago

The wannabees are everywhere.  I consider myself a neighborhood expert but only for a few selective areas - not Northern Illinois!  I guess how thin do you want to stretch 'expert'?

Posted by Lyn Sims ~ Chicago Northwest Suburbs (Schaumburg Illinois ~ RE/MAX Suburban) 6 days ago

I concur with comment #52

As much as I appreciate "area knowledge"  and with all due respect-----I think "neighborhood specialist" is really 2ndary to being a good marketer, negotiatior and sales agent.  Knowing the facts about a neighborhood, the comps and how many churches and schools is information anyone can research on the internet and the MLS.

Posted by DEBORAH STONE (Hogue and Belong Bankers Hill- San Diego, CA) 6 days ago

I choose to not be a specialist about neighborhoods, but a specialist in a certain types of homes. You can't be all things to all people, and seeing as I live in a huge Metro area, it is just not worth my time to concentrate on one neighborhood. I never call myself an expert, as no one can ever be that in real estate.

Posted by Jennifer Kirby, the Luxury Agent (Exit Realty Ventures) 6 days ago

Then of course there is the website that proclaims (for a fee) that you are the #1 Expert, but not in any one area.  A local agent here in my metro area has listings that are spread all across a 50 mile circle.  In which area are they the "expert"?

Posted by Steven Pahl (Keller Williams Tampa Properties) 6 days ago

Book mark for replies...I hope I can actually catch up!  :-)

Posted by Russell Lewis, Broker,CLHMS,GRI (AvenueOne Properties, Austin Texas Real Estate) 6 days ago

Starting out 5 years ago I interviewed with a broker who used the infamous "fake it 'till you make it line." From my perspective that was strike 3 for that office in that interview.  Agents making claims of being a specialist in given areas are often just living out that line.

Specializing in a neighborhood is more than comps and churches and schools.  Specializing is knowing the people, organizations, events, special rules, etc.  Specializing is having an out of town buyer meet you on day one and say "I don't think I can make a decision this weekend because I've never been here" and on day three tell you "I feel like I have gotten to know the community over the past 2 days and want I to make an offer on the home I like best."

My geographic specialty is Seminole Heights and the older urban neighborhoods north of downtown Tampa. The other niche is older vintage homes pre-1950. Seminole Heights has about 10,000 homes.  Show me a picture of the property and if I can't name the exact street, I won't be far off.  I often have to tell buyers that the listing agent is wrong and it is not in one of the historic districts.  Some of those agents have lived here for years.  They don't tell their Sellers to disclose the zoning restriction of the Overlay district and they don't inform their Buyers because they themselves don't know.  Agents take listings but know nothing about knob and tube wiring, lathe & plaster walls, or where to get the items to keep their vintage home looking vintage.  But I have a lot of self proclaimed "specialist" or "expert" competitors. 

I really like your line about not being all things to all people.  If we try to, few of us ever become more than medicore to all.

Posted by Rick Fifer (FLORIDA EXECUTIVE REALTY) 6 days ago

Thanks for the perspective, Russell.  I am starting to become a neighborhood specialist in Denver, one neighborhood at a time.  My methods include not only knowing all of the stats for the area, the houses coming on the market and the buyers looking to move into the neighborhood, but actually PARTICIPATING in the neighborhood.  I volunteer at at least one community event a month in MY neighborhood and get to know people in the best way possible.  I believe that if you expect to make a living off a neighborhood, you should also be giving back.

Posted by Celia Sellers ,SFR, CDPE (Keller Williams Advantage Realty) 6 days ago


To be a neighborhood specialist, it seems like you should know a fair amount about the area.

I prefer to tell people when I don't know about something.

Posted by Christine Donovan Costa Mesa Real Estate Broker/Attorney 800-610-7253 DRE01267479 (Donovan Blatt Team - Donovan Group Realty) 6 days ago

I don't think you need any more pats on the back here, but I could use the 25 measly points.

I can't believe it took 7-8 calls before the agent called back!  Have a great weekend.

Posted by Georgina M. Hunter R(S) e-Pro Maui Real Estate Sales (Jim Sanders Realty Inc. - Maui) 6 days ago

Russell,

Great post. Just because one wants to be special in the neighborhood does not make them the specialist. Everyone wants the credentials without putting in the work to earn them. Sounds like a misguided attempt to position ones self in the market. Must have missed the part about playing to his strengths. Perhps there are none? Makes you wonder,  how did this person even acquire the listing?

Posted by Scott Carlton (Zurple) 6 days ago

That agent needs to reassess their definition of specialist.

Posted by "Del"Mesha Swain, SFR (Century 21 Choice Realtors & Auctioneers) 5 days ago

First off... it's really, really nice to finally be able to log into AR when I see an engaging post without the lame "proxy" issue thing..

I saw this post in the AR daily drop and decided to try again after giving up last week... good thing to see that I can finally respond to a good post.

My experience... but a "Neighborhood Specialist" is much what you describe... somebody who lives in the area and knows the intricacies of the neighborhood.

When somebody calls me in good ole 89135 Las Vegas... I know every coffee shop, decent restaurant (including the staff) and most of the neighbors. Considering I was one of the first homeowners in this zip code / neighborhood way back in the 1990's (big history for Las Vegas, LOL!) I think I'm the neighborhood specialist.

Honestly... I now live in the zip code next to 89135 in zip code 89144... but I do consider myself the Neighborhood expert... including Summerlin 89138 since I used to take my dogs walking in the vacant fields before anything was even built. I know what it looked like before a builder turned dirt... I know what builders built what subdivisions... and I know what the brand new homes cost when they were being sold brand new.

I even know what the prices of "upgrades" were being offered by the builders.

So... hopefully... that qualifies me as the "Neighborhood Specialist" for zip codes 89135, 89138 and 89144 in Summerlin....

Nice post and good job calling out the fakes...

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by Las Vegas Real Estate - Summerlin Homes Paul Francis - www.LVRE411.com (Prudential Americana Group - REALTORS) 5 days ago

By the way... Re-Blogged this great post with a lesson learned...

For my area... I'll put my seven year old daughter up against 99% of the Las Vegas real estate agents claiming to be specialists in our area...

 

Posted by Las Vegas Real Estate - Summerlin Homes Paul Francis - www.LVRE411.com (Prudential Americana Group - REALTORS) 5 days ago

Russell.....

Excellent comments and awareness post.....recently, it was called to my attention they claiming to be a "specialist" in anything brings HEAT....... if their is any litigation down the road and they are looking for a deep pocket or two. It confers that the buck stops with you and that you know all...which doesn't hold up under aggressive questioning. Not a good time to find that out.........Thank you

Posted by Richie Naggar Ran Right Realty Riverside, Ca 5 days ago

How about "I'm not the specialist, I just live here." 

 

Posted by Mike Michaud (North Texas Help-U-Build) 5 days ago

Disappointed to hear that it took the "specialist" so long to return a call. Even more disppointed in the fact that his knowledge of the area amenities were lacking.

Posted by msWoods Real Estate 5 days ago

As much as it costs me I always tell a potential client the truth.  Just last week I was asked how many homes I had sold in a community 45 minutes from my market area and told them flat out none.  They didn't like to hear that but I walked away without any regrets.  Thanks for posting.

Posted by Gary Pike (Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Metro Brokers) 5 days ago

Hi Russell, This post really generated a lot of comments and opinions! I think it comes down to truthfulness because as your friend discovered, the agent was all talk! Hope you all are having a great Mothers Day!

Lynne

Posted by Lynne 4 days ago

Thanks for the insight, we are urged to use these little marketing terms and it just goes to show, you need to know your stuff if you are claiming to be "it" .  I, too, don't like portraying myself to be something I can't back up, I, too, have that fear of being called on it, and not being prepared to back it up!!!

Posted by Kim Darling Realtor,GRI, "Your Home Team" Fresno/Clovis Real Estate (Keller Williams Westland Realty) 3 days ago

You are right, there are a few neighborhood specialists here also. the funny thing was that almost all of them didn't even live in the neighborhood.  So what i did to set myself apart was to change my pitch from "being the specialist" to "Living & Working in". That's what give me the in depth knowledge that sets me apart from the rest.

 

 

Posted by Jean-Paul Peron e-Pro, Green (Sun Realty) 3 days ago

THAT is pretty funny. Too many claim to be an 'expert' of a certain neighborhood or product. I think there are a few things that help you become the 'expert'. Its not because you sold XX amount of homes in the neighborhood... but it should be based on your knowledge of the neighborhood and surrounding areas. Im surprised the agent didnt at least know that.

Posted by John Cannata - LegacyTexas Mortgage Sr Loan Officer - Frisco Texas ( 972-325-4912 Also available evenings and weekends) 3 days ago

OK. The sad part is, I'd be able to answer the opposite questions. I don't really work my own neighborhood too hard. It's too close to home, especially when my hubby is the president of the HOA! So I know all the petty issues, but I have to search the MLS for recent listing and sales data >.<

Posted by Lisa Hill (Daytona Beach Real Estate) (Florida Property Experts) 3 days ago

I thought this (like everyone else)a great post.  If you don't have the full knowledge to back it up you shouldn't be claiming to be the specialist of anything.  There are many out there that claim to be the expert but can't hold their ground when questioned.   Jack of all trades, expert of NONE.

Posted by Debra Walsh Orange Cty NY Real Estate 845.928.8000 (Keller Williams Realty Goshen, NY - Realtor) 2 days ago

Well written - well deserved Feature!  I used to be the customer satisfaction rep for a car dealership and something I told every saleman was not to pretend to know an answer if they didn't know the answer.  There is nothing wrong with telling a customer you don't know as long as you do know who to go to for the answer.  Acting like you know and giving false info, in sales, will always come back to bite you.

Posted by Sharon Tara New Hampshire Home Stager (Sharon Tara Transformations) 2 days ago

I've held on to this email notification for 5 days now, because it's this type of ludicrous claim that makes me shake my head not only at a clearly false claim, but bothers me because - as Debe put - consumers are being boldly misled.  Perhaps since I have achieved a measure of success over the years, I am territorially jealous over some newcomer (to the area or the profession) claiming any level of "expertise" in any number of real estate matters.  No, you are nothing more than an "expert" at promoting yourself via the internet to an unsuspecting audience about to place their trust in your claims.  There are many agetns in any market whom I'm sure declare themselves experts or specialists yet who don't have enough experience to close a simple contract without creating problems.

As for a definition of a specialist or an expert - if you're a specialist, you're putting the majority of your efforts towards that claim.  "Neighborhood X Specialist" - that means you spend > 1/2 your time in that neighborhood.  You don't have to have ever sold a single home in neighborhood X, you've just decided to focus your efforts there.   I'd rather have an 'expert" in anything - someone who has EXPERIENCE doing what I need.  And I don't mean one home, the last sale, or even just got a listing.  If you can't be stopped in the local grocery store and asked "Tell me about Neighborhood X" and provide informed details on the actual house sales (not MLS data) over the last 12 months or more - just say so.  Your honesty and your integrity are all you have to deal on with consumers and your fellow real estate professionals (ie, one who is licensed in an endeavor).

Posted by Bo Bromhal (Prudential York Simpson Underwood) 2 days ago

Hi Russell, Congratulations on the feature.  You received a lot of great comments too - I think you hit a few nerves here :-)

Posted by Mary Douglas, REALTOR ®, Red Feather Lakes, Colorado (United Country Ponderosa Realty) 1 day ago

Hi Russell, Congratulations on the feature.  You received a lot of great comments too - I think you hit a few nerves here :-)

Posted by Mary Douglas, REALTOR ®, Red Feather Lakes, Colorado (United Country Ponderosa Realty) 1 day ago

Great post Russell. This is one of my pet peeves. The was an agent at my old Broker that has that plastered over all of his signs all over town. I thought you have only been an agent for a year how can you be a specialist for every neighborhood within a 30 mile radius?!? You have to really know your stats and details or people will figure it out quickly! I say hats off to your friend!!

Posted by Betina Foreman-Serving Lake Travis, Lake Austin and the greater Austin area! ((512)771-6318 Prospect Real Estate Solutions, LLC) 1 day ago

Hi Russell!
I work in a similar neighborhood...many agents claim to be the area specialist.  There are a couple agents that have never had a single sign in our area yet claim to be area specialists in our neighborhood.  Interestingly, I recently heard an attorney speak who said to be careful about being an area specialist. By doing so, you are immediately held to a higher standard if there is ever legal action taken.

Posted by Paula Swayne Realtor - Land Park, East Sac & Curtis Park Homes Specialist (Windermere Dunnigan Realtors, Sacramento (916) 425-9715) about 5 hours ago

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