8 Tips for Finding a Great Real Estate Agent
- posted 2.29.2012
- Susan Malcolm
- Real Estate Tips
What comes to mind when you think of buying or selling a home? Could it be stress, frustration, exhaustion, anxiety? If you have had a bad experience buying or selling your home, it's hard to shake that uncomfortable feeling. And often, unfortunately, a bad experience stems from working with a real estate agent that, well, you would never wish upon anyone. So, to help make this experience at least a little bit easier, this blog will provide tips to help you choose the right real estate agent. In addition, we will discuss the best ways in which to communicate with your agent throughout the home buying/selling process.
Tip #1: One Size Does Not Fit All
Have you ever been to a retail store that sells only clothes that are one size fits all? I have and let me tell you, one size does not fit all! That is especially true when it comes to real estate agents. You need someone that deals specifically with homes in your price range. It is also helpful to have an agent that actually listens to your ideas when it comes to what kind of houses you are looking for. The process will be more efficient for everyone if you pick someone that meets these goals.
Tip #2: Observe Them in Their Natural Habitat
Picture this: you walk into an open house and the agent is sitting on the couch head down in their smart phone. They glance up when you walk in and shout a quick hello. I'm pretty sure this is not the type of interaction you want potential buyers to have with your agent. To avoid something like this, attend open houses to get a feel for different agents. You will be able to see their style, how they present themselves as well as the home. This will help you decide who will fit best with your transaction.
Tip #3: You Can Get by with a Little Help from Your Friends
Ask for referrals from friends. Your friends know you and what you may be looking for. Read customer testimonials, these will help if your friends don't have suggestions. The easiest way to find testimonials is just to Google their name. This will bring up any and all sites they might be mentioned on. However, don't trust all web reviews, they could be paid for by the real estate agents.
Tip #4: Check Out Their Website
If they have a personal website, this will give you a good idea of how they choose to market themselves. If their website seems like it is lacking content, (contact information, a welcome introduction, a picture etc.) they may not be the best choice. If it is disorganized and hard to navigate, it might be a clue as to how your experience with them would be.
Tip #5: Ask Good Questions
You don't want amateur hour when it comes to buying or selling your home. You are going to want someone that is a professional, who can handle the job. Buying or selling your home is a big deal! Make sure you are in good hands. The right questions are key to getting a feel for who they are and how they conduct their business. How long have they been in the business? What kind of services do they offer? Traditional full-service, or a la carte? How many homes did they sell in the past year? What is their commission?
Tip #6: No Double Dipping
Avoid dual agencies that represent both the buyer and seller. Things can get messy.
Tip #7: Consider a Realtor
When a real estate agent becomes a REALTOR, they are held to a strict code of ethics by the National Association of Realtors. This code includes protecting and promoting the interests of their clients, avoiding concealment or misrepresentation of facts and much more.
Tip #8: Do They Get the Job Done?
Take note of how fast houses are sold in your neighborhood - quickness of sale might be better than the agent with the most houses for sale.
Now that you have chosen your real estate agent, it's important to understand how to communicate effectively with your agent. As it turns out, real estate agents are not mind-readers. (Weird I know. I was fairly sure they went hand in hand). With that being said, you need to lay down clear communication expectations right away. If you want to only communicate via texting and e-mails, you need to tell them. If you expect a call from them once a week with updates on the progress of your transaction, you need to tell them. If you expect them to return your inquiries the same day, that should also be explained early. In addition, let them know how much information you want - do you want to hear about every house in your price range or only homes in certain neighborhoods? Being upfront about these expectations will help alleviate issues down the line.
Once you have an idea of how you are going to communicate, it may be a good idea to create a communication schedule. It can include general weekly phone calls, and detailed in-person meetings and house viewings you have set-up. The schedule will help both parties stay organized and know what's expected on both ends.
Listening is integral on both sides. The real estate agent needs to listen to your needs and concerns, and you need to listen to them when they tell you information about homes and when they are available for meetings. If both parties listen attentively, then it will be a better working relationship.