Find Out How The Agency’s Tracy McLaughlin Gets Listings Sold at Top Dollar


Are you looking to sell your seller’s home for top dollar? Consider a pre-listing renovation package. With a background in renovating single-family homes, Tracy McLaughlin, director, Luxury Estates with The Agency in Marin County, California, finds that understanding what to do to homes to monetize their value takes experience and in-depth knowledge of the market. McLaughlin is ranked No. 63 individuals by volume in the REAL Trends + Tom Ferry The Thousand.

She’s suggested changes and performed pre-listing renovations to hundreds of homes over her 20-year career. “Nothing is more satisfying than seeing my sellers close their homes at over-market value prices as a result of making capital improvements that I’ve suggested before launching the listing,” she says. Here are her tips.

  1. Do your research. McLaughlin notes that an agent “can’t make decisions and recommendations with someone else’s money unless they have a background in this. It takes years to acquire the necessary experience to make expensive investment decisions,” she says. So, participate in some remodels, talk to interior designers, and go to some classes on remodeling to gain that experience. Also, get to know the market and homes in the area.
  2. Know when to start and stop. “I find that a lot of agents don’t understand where to start and stop as it pertains to capital improvements so the sellers can avoid overspending,” she says. “Anyone can tell a homeowner to paint, carpet, etc. However, that agent must know the exact palette that the market responds to and guide sellers in exactly what to do, and not do, in alignment with the home’s valuation, neighborhood, and demographics of potential buyers, among other things,” says McLaughlin.
  3. Include a proposal in your listing package. McLaughlin recommends that agents include a detailed market analysis based on comps going back one to two years, an overview of marketing and social media efforts and a list of pre-listing improvement recommendations for staging and capital improvements.
  4. Provide references. Provide references/written testimony with sellers you have very recently worked with so that your current prospective seller can have assurances about the value you add to their home sale.

The key, says McLaughlin, is “you must differentiate yourself in the marketplace and provide value that others can’t. Communicate honestly with your sellers, even if it means you risk losing the business. Great, long term and successful sales businesses are built on a rock-solid core of trust and integrity.” And, that includes being honest about the pre-listing remodeling necessary to get the highest price possible on a home. “If you have the experience, differentiate yourself by providing prospective sellers with an incredibly clear and detailed proposal of pre-listing renovation and design suggestions so that they understand the value of what you’re doing for them. Then, get the home sold!”



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After earning her bachelor’s degree in journalism at the University of Central Florida, Tracey set out in the real world at Florida Realtors in 1994 as a communication assistant, working her way up to editor in chief of Florida Realtor magazine. In 2004, she left the association to start her freelance writing and editing business. One of her first clients was REAL Trends, and she started working for the organization in 2005. In 2014, Tracey was promoted to editor in chief of publications for REAL Trends. She handles the writing and editing of all REAL Trends publications and marketing materials, including LORE Magazine, the REAL Trends newsletter and the blog. She is also the primary podcast interviewer where she conducts interviews with top real estate industry leaders and affiliated industry leaders. Tracey is married with two children.

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