What’s a “Neighborhood Specialist”?

Many realtors market themselves as neighborhood specialists. The area where they market is what’s called a “farm”. It is a great way to get recognized, established and blanket an area where the agent likes to work.

Some agents choose to get involved with their community, their local school (where their kids may be going) and network that way, which is fantastic. After all, relationships and working with people with whom one gets along is the preferred way of doing business.


Indeed, a good, hard-working realtor who took the time to foster the relationships is more likely to get the business than the busy rockstar agent who shows up only for the listing and delegates it all to their staff, many of whom are only starting out in the business until they decide they can sprout wings and do better on their own (unless the “top gun” is providing great incentives to stay and is a personable, charitable business person who has a stake in the staff’s professional growth).

So, what happens when you, the seller, are looking to put your home on the market and you decide to go with the “neighborhood specialist”? Are you making a sound financial decision, or a bad one? The answer is always “it depends”. The right answer is always stemming from your meeting, from the listing presentation. Yes, you should interview more than one agent. And no, not just the local expert (another way to call the specialist).

All things being considered equal (marketing, experience, pricing strategy, plan to sell your home), why would you be better off going with the non-specialist (as it appears obviously counter-intuitive). In our case, whenever we take a listing and compete with a “local expert”, we focus on the listing, and that listing alone. Think Jerry McGuire. You get our fully devoted attention and focus on your home, and your home only. The Neighborhood Specialist will usually have other listings in the area (and if not, then there should be concern as to how much of a local expert they area), and rather than go to bat for your listing, they may redirect buyers to their other homes. It becomes a number’s game, they will sell something that’s listed by them, which means it serves their business before yours.

Also, the advantage of working with someone who also goes beyond the area is the database: all agents’ business is as strong as their database. By casting a wider net, we can pull buyers from other areas, because we can talk about other areas, and bring forth options that may not have been considered by them. We did that very thing for a listing in an area of Malibu by bringing someone from the Hollywood Hills, whereas many Malibu agents only work inside of that circle -not a bad thing, but in the case of our listing, it’s what made all the difference.

So, keep an open mind, and find out who you’d rather work with, consider the human element on top of how the person with their eggs in several local baskets is naturally going to not work without conflict, versus the agent working the vicinity will offer (I am countering this with an important point: don’t look too far out of the area, you still want someone with their finger on the pulse of your city).

So, in summary: the neighborhood specialist doesn’t necessarily know how to sell or negotiate better. It only means their marketing and advertising dollars are focused in the area. It is not a measure of skill, ability or expertise in buying or selling homes.

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