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Background   Nobody needs to tell you how rapidly the world is changing, and nowhere is that change more evident than in today's residential real estate market. The most prominent driver of the change has been Zillow. The rapid nature of the change, in addition to the uncertainties and glitches one expects when a huge new program is rolled out, will inevitably lead to some confusion on the part of buyers and Realtors in the loop. This brief guide will attempt to clear up these uncertainties.   What is a Zillow Premier Agent? Zillow is NOT a real estate agency and does NOT directly connect buyers with sellers, nor buyers with listing agents. The Zillow model is based on the premise that Zillow can provide massive amounts of good data to allow you, the buyer, with a great idea of the attractiveness of certain neighborhoods. Zillow correctly realizes that such a broad-based data system (and any others in existence today) have sever limitations when it comes to "local knowledge." This is where the Premier Agent comes in to play for you. Zillow makes its money by having real estate agents around the country buying advertising on its site. This takes the form of local expert agents buying exposure to potential buyers through zip codes in which they consider themselves expert. Zillow considers these agents as the experts in the specific communities in which you show interest, and when you click a listing in these agents' areas of expertise, you are generally given three options of agents to call. These agents are referred to as "Premier Agents" in that community.   Why Should I Use the Premier Agent? Why not try to locate the Listing Agent? Simply stated, the Premier Agents dedicate an enormous amount of time in their specific communities, and have a history of success you will not get by searching for agents on your own. There is a major myth floating around in some circles that you will be better served by contacting the actual Listing Agent on a property, and nothing could be further from the truth. In many jurisdictions, the Listing Agent cannot also be the Selling Agent, and even in states in which this is permitted (Virginia being one), there are strong warnings in Listing and contractual documents against doing this. The reason is simple: The Listing Agent has a strong code; he/she MUST represent the interests of the Seller in the strongest way. There is no ambivalence about this: The National Association of Realtors and most others warn buyers AGAINST dual agency situations, and in the case where a Listing Agent show you a house that may be of interest to you, it is highly recommended that you get another agent to represent your interest completely. There would be no better choice than for you to choose to work with a Premier Agent in the designated community.   But will I save money by using the actual listing agent? In the overwhelming majority of cases, the answer is a resounding "no". The seller pays all real estate commissions. The only way this might be true is if a Listing Agent proposes to "cut a deal" with you to somehow provide a better deal based on his/her reducing commissions to the seller. This is often a very small amount and does not at all overcome the fact that this agent is clearly obligated to be a strong advocate for the other side of the transaction from your side. Don't fall for this.   But I thought that when I clicked for more information, I was being connected to the Listing Agent?  This is a common misunderstanding. Zillow connect you with a Zillow Premier agent; someone who knows the neighborhood well and is a Buyer's Agent for this home. You are highly unlikely to be connected to the Listing Agent, and as stated above, this is actually a good thing for you. Always get your own representation.   But each time I click on a Zillow property, I seem to be connected to a different agent? This is probably the source of more confusion and frustration than any. I consider it a major glitch in the Zillow program, and a source of buyer and agent angst that should not exist. This is the problem, and I will provide a suggested solution. Too many buyers go to see individual properties with different agents they contacted through Zillow by separately clicking on the "more information" button. The agents have no idea what other properties you are looking at, nor how many other agents you have contacted. Compounding this problem is that you may have visited neighborhood open houses, and now are being aggressively pursued by the Listing Agent. Too many buyers believe they need to categorize each individual house with the particular agent who showed them the house. Nothing could be further from the truth, nor create more anxiety in your search. I will provide a recent example of how this becomes an extreme source of frustration for both the agent and the prospective buyer:
  • I recently was given a buyer lead from Zillow to see a nice town house in a good neighborhood. There were two other listings in the neighborhood, so I arranged for showings on all three properties. This would greatly benefit the buyer, and is a somewhat time-consuming service prided by the Buyer Agent. After seeing the first home and finishing by 2:20, the buyer begins to hem and haw about seeing the next home. This makes no sense to me, and he finally reveals that, "I set up an appointment with another Zillow Agent to see THAT one at 3:00." So now the buyer has to kill 40 minutes, the agent he was working with (me) has to cancel our 2:30 appointment and enter into a ludicrous competition with another unknown agent, and both buyer and Zillow Agent are on a lose-lose merry-go-round.
This is a comfort thing: CHOOSE ONE AGENT AND WORK WITH THAT AGENT!!!!!!! I cannot implore you enough on this. Trying to find the Listing Agent on each property, or agreeing to meet with all sorts of different agents to see different properties is a frustrating game that is almost guaranteed to have a losing outcome. Don't do it. The alternative is simple: Work with the agent who seems most knowledgeable to you, and the one who will be personable and easy for you to work with. When Buyer Agents realize that you are not committed to working with them, they will not provide the type of diligent work you need from an experienced professional. The process of searching for homes can take months, and no good agent will commit to doing this while knowing you are also trying to use other competitors. Only a foolish agent, or one who has nothing else to do, would ever agree to do this. Once again, the solution to the multiple agent, Zillow-directed, problem is as follows: Choose the one agent you are most comfortable with and develop the rapport necessary to make a great decision.   If our paths cross in your search using the Zillow Premier Agent program, I will provide you with diligent effort and detailed expertise in the neighborhoods you choose to consider. That is my pledge, and I look forward to working with you. #ZillowPremierAgent  

Ray Wedell, Realtor

Zillow Premier Agent

Chartered Financial Analyst, CFA


"If you want a top-notch real estate agent to help you sell your house, you need look no further: Ray Wedell is that agent. I interviewed four agents, selected Ray based on his presentation, and the rest is happy history. Within six weeks, we had a contract, and within two more weeks we went to settlement. There were many issues that needed to be resolved, and Ray helped me every step of the way in a professional manner. He gave sound advice when I asked him, and he helped me negotiate directly with the buyer as we moved towards settlement. He never got in the way when issues needed to be resolved and he always was there with sound and timely advice. I never once had to wait long for him to respond to my text, phone call, or e-mail: he made himself available as I needed. And yes, most importantly, I would hire him again to sell my house or help me buy another one." Eric Cramer, Reston
If the first rule of real estate is about location, then the second must be about choosing the right agent. In the dead of winter, with similar properties on the market for over a year, Ray Wedell managed to secure two offers on our property within 48 hours of listing it. Ultimately, we sold well above our asking price and in the process set a new record sales price for the community. Not to overstate the point, but popular opinion up until that time was that our prospects for selling the property were very slim. The secret to our success was simply down to Ray. He was very active and enthusiastic throughout the whole marketing process with a very practical hands-on approach. His in-depth knowledge and understanding of the highly specialized real estate market in and around the Reston Town Center meant that he was able to properly assess the potential for our property and draw a sizeable community of interested buyers. We highly recommend Ray Wedell.

Jenny and Paul Mavris
(previous owners of 12199 Chancery Station Circle)
(phone number may be provided upon request)
It is with great pleasure that I recommend the services of Ray Wedell. I recently sold my townhouse at River Creek due to a job change. The market conditions in Leesburg were extremely soft for homes sales from a pricing perspective due to the large inventory of houses on the market. I interviewed several agents and chose Ray, based on his positive approach and aggressive sales plan. Where others bemoaned the market, Ray saw it as an opportunity. He was the consummate professional throughout the process, working late hours to meet me to establish a marketing plan and strategy while aggressively following up with prospects and potential buyers. Due to his efforts, his sales strategy and his perseverence, the amount of traffic that he generated and the interest associated with that traffic enabled me to sell my house near the asking price in less than five weeks. Needless to say, in this down economy and the pressures on sellers to protect their investments, Ray is the Realtor that made it happen. I would encourage anyone facing the same challenges to contact Ray. Trust me, he will get the job done.

David Lynch
When I had to sell my town house a few years ago, there were many real estate agents anxious to take on the listing. There was, however, only one person I knew I would hire for the job - Ray Wedell. Ray impressed me long before I put my property on the market. From time to time I would get a packet at my door containing a complete study of how real estate was doing in the area. Ray did these unsolicited and comprehensive studies as a service to the neighborhood. He kept the homeowners in my community aware of what was happening to our property values so we could make informed decisions on the sale price when putting units on the market. Ray does his homework and makes it his business to know what is happening. He will be your advocate and treat each sale or purchase as if it were his own. He is passionate about what he does and works hard for you. You cannot find a better person to manage the sale of your property or help you secure a new one. I highly recommend Ray Wedell to anyone looking for the best because quite frankly, that's exactly what he is.

Wendy G.
Ray helped me purchase a home that we needed over time for both investment and personal use. His knowledge of market conditions and valuations resulted in just the right purchase, and negotiations with a difficult seller ended up with a favorable outcome. I give Ray a great deal of the credit for being able to help us close a deal. He has since been extraordinarily helpful in renting the unit with great efficiency and at top dollar and perhaps most importantly, to qualified and reliable tenants. I have found Ray to be accessible even when I am not in the market for purchase or sale of a property. I have come to rely on Ray for honest and valuable advice, and he is a confidante that is unlike any Realtor I have ever known. Ray is also a good family guy, and I would recommend him without reservation to either a new or sophisticated buyer. He will give you an edge and you will enjoy working with him, too.

Neil and Sandy Jesuele
It is hard to find anyone today who is as dedicated and caring as Ray Wedell was in selling my home. He went out of his way to make sure everything was being taken care of and followed through until the end. Also, it was more impressive given that I was out of the area, complicating the sale because he had to handle the myriad of details the homeowner usually takes care of, like repairs required by inspection, and the maintenance of several items in and around the house. To have accomplished all of this was truly amazing! I cannot thank Ray enough for his expert negotiating skills that obtained me a high price on my home without any delays or rough patches, even in today's market. I am happy to recommend Ray to anyone either wanting to sell their property or purchase property in the Washington, D.C. area.

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