Selling a house and the myth of the neighborhood expert.

When selling  house, does being a neighborhood expert matter?

When you look for a listing agent to sell your house, you will invariably come across one (or several) agents, who pitch themselves as the neighborhood expert in your area. While there can be some advantages to the seller to hire this agent, todays article is an explanation of why that doesn’t mean what it once did in real estate.

The first factor that negates the value of a neighborhood expert selling your home is technology.

Once upon a time, there was no internet. During those dark ages, homes were sold almost entirely by word of mouth and a monthly trade magazine which catalogued all of the listings that were available in a given area. So agents would eagerly await “the book” coming out every month, and study it thoroughly so that they would know what was available for any would be buyers.

On top of researching these homes by such primitive means, they did not have resources to learn about the amenities of different parts of town; well short of driving all over and looking…which was obviously time prohibitive.

So what would happen is that agents would learn everything they could about one or two neighborhoods, and would focus on knowing that neighborhood and all of its surrounding shopping, parks, crime statistics, schools and so on. Then when the book came out, they would make sure they knew every house in that area as well.

Fast forward to the modern era of real estate. In the MIBOR (Metropolitan Indianapolis Board of Realtors) area, I have immediate access to listings covering the 30 or so counties in Central Indiana. In addition to that, a quick internet search (if you know where to look) can provide me with demographics, school information, crime statistics, park locations, shopping availability, market statistics and a host of other less useful information about any neighborhood or town in that area.

Because I take a research it like you have never been there approach, while listing a home I have found that I frequently know more about its neighborhood than the one I grew up in by the time I am done. This is simply because by doing that research, I abandon any preconceived notions about the neighborhood and deal in straight facts.

The other factor which devalues the concept of a neighborhood expert is who actually sells the home.

In Indiana and most other states, real estate is sold under a two agent system. This is designed to provide maximum protection for both the buyer and the seller as each is represented by a professional real estate agent. So when you are selecting a listing agent and broker, you are actually hiring the person that will guide you in preparing the property for sale, market your home, negotiate on the sellers behalf, and navigate the closing process. Notice that I didn’t say sell your home?

That’s because the person who actually sells your home is the selling agent (who works for the buyer). So if the person actually selling the home isn’t even the person marketing it…how does having a neighborhood expert help? The long and the short is that it really doesn’t…at least on the selling side. What does matter, is that you find an listing agent that understands how to research and market in an increasingly digital world.

In good faith, I do have to say that if you are in the market to buy a home….and have your heart set on a particular area, there are some distinct advantages to using a neighborhood expert. For Instance, someone who does things the old way will likely know about houses that are about to be on market and aren’t there yet. As a buyer, that is extremely valuable. From the sellers side though, a strong marketer is much more valuable than any neighborhood expert.

If you want to work with a Realtor who believes that research and strong marketing are the best ways to get a property sold for top dollar, then call Robb at 317-657-8059 or email

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About Robb

A husband, Dad to 5, and Grandpa to 9. US Navy Vet. 18 Year Postal Employee turned full time Realtor. I enjoy a wide variety of things, but you will find that here I mostly write about Indianapolis, government/politics, recent news, and whatever book I am reading or have just finished at the moment.
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