How to Choose a Realtor
Most times, purchasing a home, is the biggest investment we make. So, how do you choose your agent, the person who will guide, advise you and lead you through the biggest investment of your life? That’s a great question with an often misinformed answer. Particular aspects are going to have varying importance to different home buyers & sellers but there are always the infallible “go to” qualities that you’re going to want in your agent.
In a world where real estate agents were once ranked very low along side used-car salesmen in honesty, the integrity and ethics of which an agent conducts their business is of highest priority. What does an agent’s integrity and ethics mean to you as a home buyer or a home seller? It means that they will not disclose your purchasing position in a way that compromises your negotiation standpoint. It means that they will properly ensure that your rights and options are protected in the contract that they negotiate for you. It also means that they will prepare you each and every step of the way for a successful & easy home purchase. This is important for obvious reasons but you may find yourself surprised by visiting an open house where a listing agent tells you that they know the Sellers will accept less than the asking price. As a Buyer, you feel like you have the inside scoop but the reality of it is that the listing agent hosting the open house represents the Seller and works exclusively for the Seller so why would they compromise their client’s negotiating position? Too many agents toss their ethics and integrity out the window to simply close a sale, at your expense. This is why it’s of utmost importance to choose a Realtor with an impeccable reputation, client references and a proven track record.
That brings us to the next important criteria for choosing an agent. Ask your agent for a list of homes that they’ve recently sold. This is a great way to ensure that your agent is familiar with your area. Real estate is local in every sense of the word. It is imperative to choose an agent who knows your market like the back of their hand. This is important because you’re depending on their knowledge of the market and their understanding of what’s happening locally in that market in terms of property condition, price, competition, inventory and absorption rate to guide you through your real estate sale or purchase.
With that being a key factor in choosing your agent, their knowledge is the next critical element. You are trusting this person with the soundness of your investment of not only the initial investment but an opportunity to build equity in your investment. So how critical is their knowledge? Well, the first question to contemplate is to ask them how often they study the market. By the time real estate trends are founded enough to print in the main stream media, savvy agents have already noted these trends and alerted their clients to maximize their selling or purchasing position. The other aspect of studying the market weekly is that, much like the stock market, the real estate market is ever-changing. The rules that allow home buyers to obtain financing change several times a year for each lending product. The requirements on homes change to qualify for financing also. Were you aware that no matter how well-qualified a home buyer may be, there may be attributes on a home that prevent the house from qualifying for financing? These are important things to know up front so that you’re not spending $350 on a home inspection and $400 on an appraisal only for the lender to come back and say the home cannot be financed in it’s current condition.
There are a lot of other great components to skilled Realtors like, special designations that can highlight their experience in a niche market like working with senior citizens, being green certified, accredited to work with home buyers only, specialized training in working with banks, asset managers for foreclosures as well as many others.
Hearing about great experiences with Realtors through friends and family can be a great resource to finding a great agent, too. Often times, there is comfort in knowing that someone you love or trust has entrusted that agent to guide them through their real estate transaction and the outcome was positive.
The bottom line is that you need to feel 100% comfortable with your Realtor. Different people will place a higher value on the various elements of what makes an agent great. These guidelines will help serve as a basis to create some questions when you meet with agents to choose the right one for you. Remember, they work for you and your best interests so you should be interviewing them to find out how they can best represent you.