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The Neighborhood Expert Myth

In most Realtor Association offices, you can purchase a “Neighborhood Expert” sign rider. A sign rider is one of those 8×30 one-liners that hang below or above the main listing sign.

The neighborhood expert is one of those real estate “marketing strategies” that bloomed in the 80’s as more and more marketing experts began offering workshops and courses to a flood of real estate agents.

In our part of California’s East Bay, you usually won’t find a Danville or San Ramon neighborhood expert. You’re more likely to find a Greenbrook, Shadow Hills, Windermere, or South San Ramon neighborhood expert.

San-ramon-neighborhood-expertWell, what is a neighborhood expert? Is there really such a thing as a Greenbrook or Shadow HIlls neighborhood expert?

Before I answer those questions, let me tell you what I know about one South San Ramon, CA neighborhood expert. Every month we receive the same “plain Jane” yellow flyer from this agent showing all current real estate listings in South San Ramon.

Here’s the short list:

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  • Agent doesn’t live in the neighborhood
  • Agent has no children in the local schools
  • Agent doesn’t attend local Realtor Marketing Meetings
  • Agent doesn’t go on broker’s tour to preview homes for sale in South San Ramon
  • Agent’s assistant gathers data and creates monthly flyer

Here’s the other short list:

  • Agent has been working this neighborhood consistently a long time
  • Agent has sold many homes in South San Ramon
  • South San Ramon residents think agent is South San Ramon expert
  • Agent is very successful

Have I answerd the two questions or are you left hanging?

Well, I’m no genius, but I can see it from several angles. And they all have merit. I have a lot of respect for this agent. She didn’t get where she is by being stupid and undoubtedly she knows a lot about South San Ramon

I’m not sure you need to be on a first name basis with the local school principals to be a neighborhood expert.

What’s the client looking for in a neighborhood expert, or their real estate agent for that fact? Most likely, someone who is fairly familiar with things and sharp enough to know where to go for knowledge. Throw in a sincere motivation to help the client and you have the makings of a pretty good neighborhood expert.

I like working as a team. I’m all over the Internet, reading blogs (local and national), and checking out the stats and such. The other team members have their areas of expertise. Together, we are pretty good neighborhood experts.

What’s the myth then. Well, I think it’s more about being a people (relationship) expert than a neighborhood expert. The sign rider may open the door, but in the end I think expertise with people will serve us better in long run.

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BTW – that South San Ramon neighborhood expert – I don’t know about that, but she surely is a great marketer and acording to her clients – a damn fine Realtor.

Here are a few related links:

Good Article on Becoming the Neighborhood Expert

Enhancing Your Neighborhood Expert Status

Producing a Kick Ass Neighborhood Profile Video

Written By

Writer for national real estate opinion column, focusing on the improvement of the real estate industry by educating peers about technology, real estate legislation, ethics, practices and brokerage with the end result being that consumers have a better experience.



  1. Ines

    January 7, 2008 at 9:25 pm

    John, it’s always about relationships and that’s why blogging is such an amazing medium.

  2. Christina Ethridge

    January 8, 2008 at 8:03 am

    I totally get where you are going with this and what you are say. But, to play devil’s advocate: I do consider myself an expert about several neighborhoods and I:

    * don’t live in the neighborhood
    * have no children in the local schools
    * don’t attend the weekly MLS meetings on any regular basis
    * don’t go on broker’s tour to preview homes for sale in the neighborhoods
    * My assistant helps gather data to create the market reports

    Here’s the thing – our team helped sell over 50% of the homes in these neighborhoods and we were not the listing agent or listing office. I have personally been inside every floor plan in the neighborhoods. Our property management company manages (on average) 10% of the homes in these neighborhoods.

    We have to remember, real estate is local – our MLS meetings are still sort of a joke around here. Out of 1500 members, 30-40 attend the meetings (there is a reason why although we are trying to change that). One does not have to constantly go on brokers tours to ‘know homes’ or ‘know neighborhoods’. And, having an assistant help gather the info is a HUGE asset.

    🙂 There, devil’s advocating is done 🙂

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