Will an Out-of-Area Realtor Save Me Money?

view of Sharp Park Golf Course w mountains and beautiful blue skies. post title: Will an Out of Area Realtor Save Me Money?
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An out-of-area realtor is more likely to cost you than save you money. A reduced commission doesn’t always mean money saved.

Realtors are drawn to work in new areas for several reasons. The lack of inventory in their primary market may be one. Widening their sales area gives them a better chance of getting a sale. The desire to keep working with a buyer client who has a broad area of interest is also a driver to sell in multiple markets. Some agents will go outside of their normal market to increase their commissions by finding cities with higher prices.

Now, what is the definition of “out-of-area realtor”? That’s a lot harder to define and is dependent on the knowledge, experience and comfort level of the individual agent. Agents who grew up in one city and have moved nearby may still have ties to their hometown, have a lot of knowledge of the area and the real estate market.

Working in a rural area where properties are separated by a lot of miles is a lot different than selling in a downtown urban setting. Some realtors only focus on selling the condos in their downtown area. An agent that sells ranches is going to be doing a lot of traveling to sell in their market which is geographically huge.

It’s up to you to make sure the agent you choose to work with fits the requirements and expectations you have. Knowing how realtors get paid can be helpful in creating a realistic outlook.


An out-of-area realtor may lack in-depth knowledge of the local market. That will often lead to challenges in accurately pricing the property. Without a deep understanding of local trends, they might struggle to navigate the nuances of the area, potentially resulting in an overpriced listing that hinders a timely sale.

For a buyer, the risk is just as great. The consequences of an out-of-area realtor’s inadequate local knowledge are evident, particularly in a competitive market. The intricacies of determining an appropriate offer and terms in a multiple-bid scenario are more complex. That can certainly increase the financial risks for the buyer.

I represented the sale of a property that garnered significant interest. With 17 offers, there are sure to be out-of-area realtors. These realtors, of course, called me with questions. Unfortunately for their clients, the inquiries were not only focused on property specifics. They wanted insights into the local real estate market. Basically they wanted me to tell them what I thought the house would sell for.

Sellers, too, face substantial risks if their out-of-area realtor lacks familiarity with the local market. Overpricing a property is a risk not worth taking in any market. The pricing strategy significantly influences the likelihood of a timely sale. Prolonged market exposure can lead to diminishing appeal, making the property less desirable. Thus, the choice of a realtor well-versed in the nuances of the specific area becomes paramount.

2. Expectations

I always talk about expectations with clients. If your out-of-area realtor doesn’t often work in your area, they’re unlikely to know the standards and expectations of the community. One of the offers I received on this particular house had an escalation clause.

Realtors don’t use escalation clauses in our local market.  I was surprised to see it since they are uncommon and outside of my expectations. There’s nothing wrong with an escalation clause. But in a batch of multiple offers, that’s not how you want to stand out. It shows that your agent isn’t local and may not understand the complexities of selling your property. That can make a transaction very difficult and perilous.

3. Point of Sale Requirements

Some cities have point of sale requirements as a way of paying for municipal repairs. If your house is located in a town with one, you need to know, not only what it is, but how to manage it through your transaction.

One type of POS is sewer laterals. Several cities in San Mateo County require that every sewer line be inspected at the time of a sale. If the line has failed and doesn’t pass the inspection, the repairs must be done prior to the property changing hands.

You’ll need to know: What is required by the city code? How much does it cost? Who’s supposed to pay for it? How long does the work take to complete? What if the work can’t be done in time?

Some of the agents asked me if the seller would be paying for the sewer work. Another telltale sign that they weren’t from this area and haven’t dealt with a point of sale requirement. How are they going to explain it to their client if they don’t know what it is and how it works?

4. Who pays for what?

There are a lot of expenses when you’re buying and selling real estate. Each county – and sometimes each city – has fees for the transfer of property. They often handle those costs differently. In some counties it’s standard for the buyer to pay their own closing costs. In others, it’s standard for the seller to pay all the costs. If your agent doesn’t know which is which, you could potentially be paying costs you don’t need to. And that could be a lot of money.

5. What do you disclose?

Cities, counties and states each have requirements when it comes to what a home seller needs to disclose to the buyer. I mentioned the point of sale requirement, but there are other area-specific disclosures. When you can cut down a tree, fire, flood, and earthquake zones. There may be an airport noise disclosure requirement. If your local classrooms are full, you’ll need to disclose that too. If your agent doesn’t know that, you could be in for a lawsuit. And it’s the buyers who do all the suing. 

6. Who obtains and pays for inspections?

This is also determined by the area. In some places, home sellers obtain and pay for the inspections prior to the house going up for sale. In others, that’s the buyer’s responsibility. There are pros and cons to both scenarios but you do need to know what’s expected in your city. If your agent doesn’t know, it will definitely cost you time and money.

7. What inspections do you get?

There are several home inspections that are standard for the Pacifica market. Because of that standard, it’s now what buyers expect. If you don’t have them, you’re going to make the home buyers concerned. If you have one that other home sellers don’t, buyers are going to want to know why. Anything outside the norm is going to make buyers nervous. A simple explanation isn’t always enough to calm their axiety.

8. ineffective Networking

Connections within the local real estate community is a vital part of a successful property transaction. Local buyers often rely on the insights and recommendations of real estate professionals who are well-acquainted with the area.

A robust network allows realtors to leverage word-of-mouth referrals and collaborate with other professionals to enhance a property’s visibility. Local real estate professionals often share information about new listings and buyer preferences within their network. An out-of-area realtor’s limited presence in this network can result in missed opportunities for the property to be showcased to potential buyers.

Moreover, local connections provide access to valuable resources, such as contractors, inspectors, and service providers, who play a crucial role in preparing a property for sale. An out-of-area realtor’s lack of established connections may hinder their ability to efficiently coordinate these essential aspects of the selling process.

Since you’re reading this, you’ll be moving at some point. And in that case, you’ll want to read 27 Genius Moving Hacks To Organize Your Move – Moving Tips. It contains some of the best tips I’ve seen to make your next move an easy one.

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