The National Association of Realtors recently released what it terms the DANGER Report (www.dangerreport.com). I wasn’t surprised to find out in this 164-page report that the No. 1 threat to the real estate industry is the masses of marginal agents.

The report says in part, “The real estate industry is saddled with a large number of part-time, untrained, unethical, and/or incompetent agents. This knowledge gap threatens the credibility of the industry.”

The consumer wants and expects a trusted adviser. But are they getting that in their real estate agent? A competent real estate agent gives the service their clients deserve to hear, must hear, not what they want to hear. It’s up to a trained realtor to give that kind of service, but unfortunately many real estate agents aren’t trained that well. Just about anyone with $120, a pulse and a bit of common sense can get a Utah real estate license. But it takes more than just a license to become a competent agent.

When I first got into the business more than 20 years ago I was already trained in marketing, had a master’s degree in public relations from Brigham Young University and had worked in advertising and PR for 10 years or so. So when I got my real estate license, I thought I could hit the ground running. I listened to my brokers and tried to emulate what they taught, but it just didn’t work for me.

I learned that the best of the best in sports and other pursuits have coaches. So I started spending hundreds, eventually thousands of dollars to learn from seasoned real estate coaches how to best serve my clients in their best interest. I found that continued education is the key to becoming effective and to offer real value in this business.

I also learned that the average agent spends less than $100 a month on his business, sells just eight to 12 homes a year and many fail to price homes correctly from the get-go so that they expire after six months or get less than 90 percent of the original asking price.

That’s why the first decision sellers need to make before putting their homes on the market is to hire the right agent. Not all agents are the same. Some sell homes for more than others and some sell them faster than others. Some market to potential buyers, while the more savvy agents also market to buyer agents, who are working with most of the buyers.

Then with that agent select the right price, not too high so it languishes on the market and not too low so you give away your equity. Also realize there’s much more to getting the most for your home other than price and commission, a sign in your yard and a posting on the Internet.

And speaking of commission, the expert coaches teach that commission isn’t the expense a lot of people think it is, it’s a marketing tool, as I’ve stated in earlier columns. The key is to get it on the agents’ showing lists. Offer a discount commission and it will likely be the last home shown, if shown at all. Treat commission as a marketing tool as you target buyer agents and it will actually save you money in a quick sale, not cost you money with a longer time on the market.

People who fear the commission either try to sell on their own or hire a discount agent, not realizing statistically, at least, that they’ll do much better with a full service, well-trained agent.

Finally, stage your home correctly and it will bring a faster sale and higher and better offers and even better appraisals. People pay more for wow! That’s why for every home I list I bring along an interior designer to help the homeowner’s stage their home for maximum results. And it works!

Here’s what one seller wrote, “It was great how he hired a design specialist to come and show us what we could do to stage our home to appeal to buyers.”

That home, located in Provo, went under contract in three days for $5,000 over the asking price, which was actually higher than the appraisal, so we adjusted the price with the knowledge that the sellers weren’t giving away any of their equity.

Rodger L. Hardy is a Realtor affiliated with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage. For answers to your real estate questions please call him at 801-360-9133 or email him at rhardy@cbzhomes.com. For more information, please visit www.utahforsale.net.