Realtor.Rock: Knowing how to market your home can make a difference

Realtor.Rock is a bi-monthly column where local Realtors share their expertise on real estate matters.

This week’s interview is with Pam Cunningham, a Realtor with Gambino Realtors. She can be reached at 815-637-0107 or 815-289-6323. Her e-mail is:

What is something you would like the general public to know about the profession of real estate sales?

I would like the public to know that real estate is a profession and requires a state license. We are required to take a pre-licensing course and pass a state examination. We also have continuing education requirements to keep our license. Many, I think, believe selling real estate is easy money. It is far from it. Selling or buying a home is a very complicated legal process, and many obstacles turn up along the way. Even agents who have been in the business 20-plus years say that something new comes up every day. The market and laws are constantly changing, and agents must keep on top of it all

Are most Realtors full or part time?

I would think most are full time. It would be very difficult to do this job part time and be successful. I got into this profession thinking I could make my own hours and work when I wanted, but I was greatly mistaken! I often work seven days a week, evenings, weekends, you name it. Time is of the essence when it comes to contracts and, many times, I find myself dropping everything to tend to an offer. This makes my schedule very unpredictable!

If the average commission is 7 percent, what percent does the selling agent make?

This brings up one of the biggest misconceptions the general public has about Realtors. Many think we put a sign in the yard and collect a big check at closing. Far from it! When a seller signs a listing contract and agrees to pay a 7 percent commission at closing, they are informed that usually half of that will be paid to the office that brings in the buyer. So, as a listing agent, the commission is now 3.5 percent. However, depending on the agreement the agent has with their broker, probably half of that 3.5 percent the broker will keep for their expenses and overhead. The agent’s cut is now 1.75 percent. From that 1.75 percent, the agent must pay for the expenses associated with getting the house sold. Marketing costs can run several hundred dollars for ads, brochures, gas costs associated with showing the property, open houses, and negotiations, as well as the hours of time needed for promotion, paperwork and all the steps necessary to bring the sale to a successful closing. Other costs include closing gifts, sometimes things such as home warranties that an agent might agree to pay, and errors and omissions insurance all agents are required to carry. Although agents must be licensed under a broker, they are all independent contractors. In essence, they are self-employed. As such, agents must pay the full Social Security tax, currently 15.3 percent.

What do Realtors do to market a property?

I can only speak for myself, but this is one of the best parts of my job! I have a degree in marketing, so it is something I really enjoy. There are eight factors that affect every home sale. No one can control the location of a property, the economic conditions, and the competition from other homes on the market. The seller can control their home’s price, condition, availability to show, and terms. As a Realtor, I can control the marketing and promotion. Does marketing make a difference? Definitely! The number of potential buyers has a direct influence on the speed and price of a home sale. The marketing program I offer my clients includes extensive Internet coverage, as this has become the No. 1 way that potential buyers begin searching for homes. I am a member of the Rockford MLS (1,500-plus agents) as well as the Northern Illinois MLS (72,000 members). This exposes a home to thousands of agents with potential buyers. I also offer enhanced ads on with multiple color photos, moving attention-getting banners, and descriptive text. This also links to Web sites such as AOL, MSN, Wall Street Journal, and hundreds more. Listings also appear on my company Web site,,,, and many other cooperating Web sites. Full-color ads also appear every Friday in the Gambino Home Guide, which distributes about 90,000 copies per week. This is also inserted once a month in the Chicago Tribune. Additionally, I feature ads in the Real Estate Marketplace magazine and utilize toll-free, 24-hour numbers that potential buyers can call for information at any time. Several calls have been received around 3 a.m.! I am always looking for new ideas and ways to market, and welcome input from my sellers, as well. Every agent has different methods that they employ, but it is all in an effort to get a home exposed to as many buyers as possible. Our goal is the same—a sold home!

James Frazier is the owner of A Defined Design-Professional Home Staging Service. He can be reached at 815-997-3212 or through his Web site at

from the May 30-June 5, 2007, issue

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