Local Realtors Offer Insight, Information, Experience

The local real estate market has been brisk, and with all the events coming up this spring, we can expect that many visitors will be interested in learning more about becoming Beverly/Morgan Park neighbors.

Neighborhood real estate professionals are ready to serve both buyers and sellers, and they offer insight, information and experience that online or out-of-area firms simply can’t supply.

“Agents from out of the area are rarely are in touch with changes in the sellers’ marketplace, including other newly listed competitive properties, changes in our micro market, and neighborhood issues and news, all of which impact sale price and market,” said Barbara Thouvenell, Managing Broker for

PRS Associates, 10450 S. Western. “Local agents are in touch with their communities, they understand school issues, know which houses are coming on the market, know what the competition looks like inside and how it compares to their own client’s home.”

Mary Ellen Fitzgerald of Fitzgerald Real Estate, 11134 S Western, agrees. Local realtors have the most up to date information on comparable properties that have recently sold or are currently on the market, which can help buyers and sellers when negotiating, she said. “In most cases, [local realtors] have been in the houses and are familiar with the pros and cons of what you’re buying. They also know about schools, parks, services and activities because they’re participating in all those things.”

“Sometimes sellers want to use their friends who are in the real estate business in other areas of Illinois,” Thouvenell said. “They think anyone can put up a sign and put the property on the MLS, so what’s the difference?  Well, there’s a lot of difference! I’ve seen several MLS listings put there by people from out of the area [that had] glaring errors that might change sale price, or cause the seller legal problems later. Scary!”

People also risk overpaying when they buy or having their property undervalued when they sell if they work with a realtor unfamiliar with the neighborhood, cautioned Bernadette Molloy, Molloy & Associates, Inc., 10001 S. Western. “Sellers should definitely use local broker because we can know the market, we can serve them more professionally. I don’t just throw lockboxes on.” If she does show a house where the realtor is using a lockbox, she makes sure the home has been locked properly and left way she found it.”

“Buyers and sellers need to realize that real estate is local,” said Bill Biros, Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Biros Real Estate, 3580 95th St. “What’s trending in the Loop or the suburbs is not necessarily what’s trending here.”

All of the local realtors we interviewed provide information on available houses on their websites, and agree that online shopping for homes is a trend that’s important to offer. But they also advise people who find neighborhood properties they’re interested in seeing through online real estate companies to also check websites maintained by local realtors.

“Yes, we do offer services for online shoppers,” Thouvenell said. ”Every listing of ours in the MLS is sent to around 100 different websites including Realtor.com, Zillow, Trulia and Redfin. Most people start out shopping that way, to gain an initial understanding of the market, what’s available, and at what price. I’m going to guess that about 80% of the calls we get from buyers start out, ‘I was looking online and I saw this property …’”

“We all draw from the same information,” Biros said.” But people should be aware that with some of the programs, the people writing the contract have often never seen the house, and have no way of knowing about or being able to advise them about important things about the location, demand, condition and other considerations.”

“You have to be careful,” Fitzgerald said, explaining that the online real estate companies “just have hard facts that don’t take things like condition, submarkets or the quality of upgrades into consideration.”

Simply put, people who live in a neighborhood know more about it than people who live elsewhere.

“It doesn’t cost the buyer anything to work with a local agent who has the knowledge but that knowledge has a really high value, Biros said. “In the grocery store if you want information on the produce, you don’t ask the butcher.”


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