About a week ago I showed a house in Foster City to some folks who expressed some interest in the place. I called the listing agent, who I’ve known for a long time, and asked some questions. I found out two important things…1) the home was getting plenty of interest and there was a possibility of multiple offers, and 2) the listing agent was willing to look at an offer that I would write immediately. No waiting…and no competition for the buyer. Why, you ask, would that happen? Because the relationship that’s been established with that agent insures her/him that our potential transaction will be smooth.

This isn’t all about me of course, this is the story of the value to the consumer of working with an experienced agent. It’s become sort of common in the last few years for buyers to ask me if I’m willing to kick back commission the way rebating online real estate companies or other discount brokers do. These brokers have created a fantasy world where they’re selling the notion that a real estate agent’s job is a commodity. That we’re simply interchangeable parts, order takers and secretaries who merely know how to fill out forms and present them. Sometimes it works out and it’s true too! Lot’s of the rest of the time it’s not true. I think most of the time it’s not true.

There’s probably 100 reasons why experience is beneficial to a buyer or seller, yet I know that the Internet allows people to study and gain knowledge that wasn’t available to them just a few years ago. There’s certainly one way that the Internet or the rebaters can never touch and that’s in the area mentioned above…relationships. I can’t tell you how many times a client of mine has landed on a home in a multiple offer environment because of the relationship I’ve had with a listing agent. It’s also been enormously important for me as a listing agent to be able to identify an experienced agent that my seller can trust to close escrow on time. Relationships are also important in connection to lenders, title people, and inspectors as well.

Lots of this is simple human nature. You spend 20 years in one community and you get to know your coworkers and other agents. Naturally, you’re going to feel comfortable working with them. Working with somebody like this sure beats having an offer faxed by an “agent” who wasn’t in real estate just a year ago.


  1. This is the truth in so many business settings, Jim. The relationships that you build with colleagues, vendors, clients, etc … it makes all the difference in the world. We have “commoditized” much of our business lives in terms of products / services that we rely upon. But when it comes to those critical purchases (homes, professional services, etc.), the relationship you build with someone will help determine how successful the “contract” will turn out.

    It’s one of the things that drives me nuts about the bureaucracy that is local government … we are driven by a competitive bidding process and accepting the lowest bidder for most of the projects, goods or services we buy. I understand the concept that we are stewards of the public funds, and that those rules were established to prevent favoritism / paternalism and in hopes of obtaining the lowest possible price. But in so many ways, I can’t develop a solid business relationship with someone and “sole source” the project to them because I know they’ll be fairly priced and do a great job … I have to take “lowest responsible bidder”, which sometimes adds costs to change orders or “fixing” the work they should have done right the first time. OK, so I’ve ranted. Thanks for the opportunity! 🙂

    Having those solid relationships is so important. And in a “personal” business like you are in, I couldn’t agree more!!


  2. Wonderful,very timely article, Jim.
    Well done!!
    Merry Christmas to you!

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