What is an expert? Is there any other field as rich in “experts” as real estate? "Golf course expert, lakefront expert, Atlanta real estate expert, first time buyer expert, short sale expert"; after a while expert loses its punch. Real estate agents love the term, but what actually constitutes expertise in a certain field? And if real estate is the "field", is there legitimate expertise within it? The public hears of agent "expertise" in a multitude of arenas, but how many are truly experts in a specific real estate arena?
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Is there a difference between experienced and expertise? Is it unreasonable to assume that a competent, experienced agent (one that earns a living from real estate) can sell a golf course home? An experienced agent will understand how to assess the comparables, what drives value, what detracts from value and probably how to isolate any contributory value from the golf course. An experienced agent will be able to isolate the contributory value of that golf course location.
What expertise is there to working with a first time buyer, FHA buyer or jumbo buyer? An experienced agent will have a systematic approach to working with buyers, a major part of that will be preapproval with an experienced lender to ensure that the client is properly counseled as to their options. Bringing in specialists in each field to work with a client is what a good agent does. Does this make them an expert or a smart agent?
Is it possible to be a “short sale expert”? No two situations are alike; differences exist with lenders, mortgage size, owners, home value, area trends and mitigating circumstances surrounding each specific short sale. While an agent may have completed previous short sales and gained some experience with the process, is it accurate to use the “expert” term. Wouldn’t that imply comprehensive expertise – including actual negotiation with the lenders which is prohibited in some states?
There are clear areas of expertise under the "real estate" umbrella. No one can argue legal, mortgage, appraisal, inspection and even investment areas are best left to full time experts in each field. Just as we expect a major league pitcher to have a repertoire of pitches, we expect real estate agents to have a repertoire of abilities. A professional full time agent can handle a first time buyer, golf property, work different parts of a metro area and do it well.
Marketing is all about selling the sizzle as much as the steak, the real estate industry certainly knows that field very well. However, real estate agent credibility in the eyes of the public might be raised if more time were spent of extoling the virtues of working with professional full time agents than was spent fabricating designations and topics to be “experts” in. The true experts in the real estate business understand the importance of a trusted network and delegation as needed; they understand that perhaps the most important thing to know is what you don’t know. They sell the steak.
Look for agents who show long-term commitment to their area of specialization. Experts earn their designation through years of success in a given field. While newcomers to the industry shouldn't be overlooked, experience is the guiding force needed in most situations.