Earlier today I visited Koenig & Strey's Winnetka office to pitch agents on real estate video at their Monday morning sales meeting.
Every sales meeting I attend turns out to be a great way to gain a snapshot of a local real estate market from the people who know it best - the agents who are in the fray every day.
Agents reported strong attendance at yesterday's open houses - seven or eight buying groups at several, four at a Northfield open house that hadn't seen more than one at previous open houses.
One agent reported a contract signing at 8 yesterday (Sunday) evening. Another talked about touring a buyer through seventeen (17!) homes, a personal record, last Saturday. The homes were in the $500K to $700K range in Wilmette, Winnetka and Kenilworth, and she felt that a number of the homes she had seen were really attractive buys.
Anyone who's attended a number of sales meetings at a major firm office would never consider buying a home on the North Shore without allying himself with a buyer's agent from one of those offices.
It's common at sales meetings for agents alert each other to properties that may come on the market soon, and inquire whether anyone has buyers seeking that type of property. It isn't hard to understand that some of the best properties go under contract quickly through this type of informal exchange, and that smart buyers need to plug into the network through an agent with one of the major firms.
On the seller side, agents alert other agents at these meetings to price reductions and other changes that make a home more desirable, and tout their listings in a way that's far more effective than any other sales medium.
Much more educational information exchange transpires at these meetings than I've described.
I'm not a totally disinterested observer of this scene, since my firm produces print advertising for three of the North Shore's largest brokerages. But, seeing the advantages these firms have over smaller ones has made me a believer in the value of a buyer or seller's retaining one of them when the need arises.