7 Essentials for Choosing a Real Estate Agent

The market is saturated with real estate agents in today’s progressive market.  Deciding whether to sell your house or land is a personal decision as well as a business decision.  This is an exciting time for you.  You want it to go smoothly, and you want your agent to be in your corner fighting for you.  Agents who don’t personalize this transaction with you can be challenging and make the whole process stressful and sometimes costly, so I’ve put together a list to help you make the right decision for you!

1.  Knowledgeable

This essential seems easy and self-evident, but let’s go deeper than this.  Experience is important, but even more than that you want your agent to have knowledge of the area you are working in.  Your agent needs to study the housing and land costs in your area and discover what the market trends are.  In addition, they should study the neighborhood and community.  They should do a Comparative Market Analysis on your property of course, but they can go deeper by doing analysis of the neighborhood surrounding the property.  This will go a long ways when it’s time to negotiate with the buyer or seller of the property.  You will have the tools you need to make the right decision for you, both personally and budgetarily.

2.  Personality

Many people overlook this very important essential to finding an agent.  Either their best friend or family member recommended this person, or they found a home they like and used the listing agent to put together the deal, or received a mailing and you hire them.  Once you’ve signed on the dotted line, you discover that this person does not have the same goals in mind as you do.  You end up butting heads and getting frustrated with the process because you just don’t see eye-to-eye on many of the details.  Spend some time before you sign having a general conversation with your prospective agent. In essence, interview them.  Remember, they work for you!  If they are pushy and you don’t feel comfortable from the start, chances are it will only get worse as you go through the process of buying or selling.  Agents whom you find yourself feeling comfortable with are the best fit for you.

3.  Responsive

Do they answer their phone?  Or, if you had to leave a message, did they get back with you quickly?  Nothing can be more frustrating than waiting on a negotiation, and the agent doesn’t respond.  Worse, you lose the home of your dreams because your agent wasn’t willing to get the offer signed and drive to the other agent immediately to present the offer.  I just heard last week of a listing agent receiving 7 offers on a piece of property the same day it was listed.  The one that got the house was the one who got the offer in first and it equaled the other offers.

Is your agent checking the new listings immediately and available to go show you that house at your earliest convenience?  I was trying to make a verbal offer to an agent just last week.  I called and left a voicemail in the morning.  No response.  I called back that afternoon.  They didn’t answer.  It was the following morning, 24 hours later before he finally called me back.  After our discussion, he said he would get back with me after her talked with owner.  Another 24 hours went by.  It was Friday afternoon when he finally called with a counter offer.  Many agents won’t work on weekends or certain other times.  If this was a hot property, my client wouldn’t have stood a chance.  If in doubt, call your prospective agent and see how long it takes them to return your call.

4.  Treats the Transaction as if it were Their Own

Agents who can relate to the deal as if they were transacting their own are the best agents to have.  They personalize the process and put themselves in your shoes.  They will provide suggestions and advice that could make them less money, but they know it is the best for their client because its what they would’ve done.  The best agents are the ones who have a lot of repeat business.  They treat their clients fairly and with respect owning each transaction.  They create a win-win situation for all parties involved.  They are conscientious, creative, and professional.  They do their very best to enhance the experience all while getting you what you want at a price that you are comfortable with.

5.  Volume Does Not Equal the Best Price

I see a LOT of advertising out there by agents that talk about the number of houses sold by their “team of experts” in the last month, year, etc.  Wow!  They HAVE to be great agents then, right?  Not necessarily.  What this means is they are selling as many properties as possible.  Think about this.  Why are they selling so many?  Because they are good at it?  Maybe.  But many times they are selling a huge volume because they are pricing the properties too low.  Their whole process is like an assembly line.  Its very automated and impersonal.   This process does NOT get you the best price.  If you’re in a hurry and don’t care about the price, then these are certainly the agents for you.  I have found, though that most people aren’t in a big enough hurry to sacrifice getting the best price for their home or land.  Most people want the best price for their property.  To get the very best price and find the right house or land takes a little time.  As you have probably heard, it’s a sellers market right now.  If you have property to sell, the Days on Market is at an all time low.  You really don’t need to be treated like a number in an assembly line of clients.  You can get personalized service AND the best price in a time frame that makes you, the client happy and satisfied all while feeling as if you matter to your agent.

6.  Achieving Your Goals

Check to see what agents do to help find you a home or land and/or sell your property.   Do they only use the multiple listing service, or do they dig deeper?   If you are selling your house, what are the methods they will use to get your home sold?  Will they host an open house?  How about placing ads?  Are they on Zillow and other online selling entities?  Do they make personal phone calls?  If you are buying a home, do they check For Sale By Owners?  Do they drive an area to see if there are any properties not listed in the M.L.S.?   When interviewing an agent, go over all this with them to discover their actions in helping you achieve your goals of buying and selling.

7.  Follow Through

There’s nothing worse than relying on a closing date that doesn’t happen.  Many transactions are a house of cards.  For example, you are selling your home to a buyer who is selling their home.  All the closings need to happen within a couple of days of each other in order to be able to move at a designated time.  You’ve taken a few days off of work in order to move.  This has to be scheduled in advance, and then the houses don’t close on time.  Why?  Because your agent didn’t do their job.  Your life just got more complimented and your frustration level is at an all-time high.

Responsive agents who follow-through the process and keep it moving are a dream to work with.  Their (my!) job is to make your buying or selling experience as exciting and painless as possible.  Follow-through agents check with all parties throughout the “pending transaction” time.  Without going into a lot of details about the whole process, agents will follow up periodically with lenders, title companies, appraisers, mechanical inspectors and all parties involved in the process.  There should be no surprises for you because they are sending you periodic updates about where you are in the process.  If there is a glitch with say the title work, you’ll know it quickly so it can be solved.  If one of the buyers did not qualify for a loan, which affects your transaction, the earlier in the process to discover this, the better.  Maybe the house doesn’t appraise high enough for the lender.  There are all sorts of issues that could come up.  While you might not be happy about an issue, you will know about it in enough time to make adjustments.

Choosing an agent who meets your needs is paramount to a happy, successful, stress-free transaction.  Real estate buying and selling can have many ins and outs, but if you choose an agent who cares about you and your needs, it can be one of the best times in your life.  Choose happy and wise!  Happy property hunting and selling!

Karen Salsbury, Broker Salesperson Barnes Realty Karen Rothermich is a broker salesperson at eXp Realty.  She has more than 14 years of experience in the real estate industry with land, homes, and property management.  You may contact her anytime at karen.rothermich@exprealty.com

2 thoughts on “7 Essentials for Choosing a Real Estate Agent

  1. Pingback: Buying a House-The 8-Step process | Real Estate Today

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