Because the job looks easier and less complex than the reality, there are great and vast misconceptions amongst the general public about what Realtors do. Because it usually takes several years for newly hatched Realtors to discover the many facets and requirements of the job, there are even Realtors who sometimes wonder what the heck other Realtors are doing.

So if the class will take a seat, we’ll begin with chapter one of “Real Estate Misconceptions: What the Heck Do Realtors Do, Anyway?” Tuition is free, although in the real world, hiring the wrong agent or not knowing what your agent should be doing can get expensive. Other misconceptions will be covered in following chapters, if somebody will remind me.

Misconception #1: “My agent hasn’t showed my house even once, she’s just not working.” This is a common one, but if the seller did even basic agent research prior to listing the house, it’s not likely that the agent isn’t working. This may come as a surprise, but it’s not unusual for the listing agent to have never shown his/her own listing and while the listing agent would also love to also be the selling agent, it’s rare and for several reasons.

See, the listing agent is legally bound to represent the seller and while dual agency is possible, I don’t recommend it, unless you’ve got a past relationship with a very trusted, experienced and knowledgeable Realtor. Astute buyers without that relationship will hire an experienced buyer’s broker to represent them in the buying process, same as the listing agent represents the seller.

There are almost 300 members of the Valdosta Multiple Listing Service, which means the odds of your listing agent selling your house or even showing it are 300 to one. You listing agent may also be working with several clients at any time, but if your house isn’t suitable for any of them, what’s the point in your listing agent dragging them through it, even if they were willing to be dragged?

Besides, AGENTS don’t sell houses. HOUSES sell houses. The best agent in the world can’t sweet-talk somebody into buying a two story house, if they need a one story house or into buying a red house, if they want a blue house. The selling agent’s job is to match the buyer’s needs and wants with the closest thing they can afford that matches those needs and wants.

The listing agent’s first chore is to make sure the house is priced correctly. It takes significant time to research all aspects of recent sales, from price per square foot to days on the market and everything in between. That’s followed by taking inventory of those houses on the market which will be competing with the owner’s house.

Add the agent’s knowledge gained from years of experience to the research and if the seller will listen, his/her house will be correctly positioned in the market for the seller’s maximum benefit. Sometimes, though, an owner will insist on dictating price and procedures to the agent and if the agent allows that to happen, they’re both likely to squander both time and selling opportunities.

Setting a price too low has obvious consequences, but at least the house will sell. Setting the price too high can have harsher consequences. An overpriced house is likely to sit there eating money long enough to get stale on the market. People begin to wonder what’s wrong with it and when a desperate owner finally lowers the price enough to be competitive, offers often come in lower than they would have, had the house been priced correctly at the start.

‘Oh, I can always come down,” says the owner. Well, yeah, but only if he gets an offer high enough to make negotiating down worthwhile. Experienced Realtors today know credit is tight and that not everybody can get a loan or borrow as much money as they’d like, even at today’s wonderfully low rates. Before showing a potential buyer even one house, they’ll determine what the buyer can afford.

If Joe Buyer can only afford to buy up to $125,000 and Sam Seller has overpriced his $125,000 house at $150,000, Joe Buyer won’t see Sam Seller’s house, will he. Instead, Sam Seller’s house will be shown to buyers looking at larger or nicer houses, those priced at $150,000. Think about it, Sam’s $125,000 house can’t compete with $150,000 houses, can it?

Sellers can get their egos tied up their houses and while they won’t put it to themselves quite this way, the thinking is that just because they’ve graced the house with their presence, it just automagically will be worth more than the same house across the street. Unfortunately, some agents will take that over-priced listing, it gives them a place to put a sign – free advertising.

Eventually, that agent may even participate in the sale, if the seller drops the price enough before the listing expires. That’s if the seller doesn’t blame the listing agent for “not showing my house” and hires another agent after the listing expires. That’s why smart agents will reject an over-priced listing – it doesn’t work for either the seller or the agent.

From the outside, selling a house must look so simple to some sellers that they see nothing wrong in picking an agent because they sit next to them in church or because their cousin just got her license and “needs the business”. I’ve got some smart cousins, highly educated and successful in their fields, but those boys better hire a good agent when they sell their next homes, ‘cause they don’t know a thing about it. They might even be smart enough to realize it, too.

Interview agents, question their experience and track record and get recommendations. Ask how much they made last year. Whether that’s considered a personal question or not wouldn’t make any difference, I want to know that whoever’s selling my house has been successful enough doing it for others to make a living.

That means full-time agents needing full-time money, they work harder that way.

Having the inexperienced lead the uninformed through the largest financial transaction sellers or buyers usually make can get unpleasant, if not downright dangerous to a buyer’s or seller’s financial health and well being. So what happens when the new agent discovers being a successful real estate agent takes more knowledge, experience and just plain WORK than expected and heads for greener pastures?

The agent’s friends and cousins are still going to be stuck with the deals he or she left behind, aren’t they? Sometimes for years and won’t that make the ol’ family reunions fun.

Mike Hill has been in the real estate business in Valdosta since 1976, has no local cousins and hopes any real estate mistakes he made early on have faded from anyone else’s memory.