How To Pick A Real Estate Agent

How To Pick A Real Estate Agent

Which one will you make?


Today I want to talk about a question that comes up all the time in the real estate industry and especially with first time home buyers. Let's say you're browsing homes online and seeing a lot of agents' pictures on the side of the page. Every listing may have 3 or more different people that pop up on your screen. "What is the difference?!?!" they ask me.


Well, the difference can be huge. The difference can manifest itself in dollars back in your pocket, guidance on the proper inspections and warranties, help with the lender, liens on the property, appraisals, PROPER COMMUNICATION, and a ton of other details that only an experienced agent will know to look out for. You'd be reading for an hour if I listed everything that may come up during the process. Basically, picking the right agent will make it much easier to sleep at night..even after closing on your home. Your interests should be your agent's interests. I've lost count of the times I've taken phone calls after midnight when my client had a problem..JUST ASK MY WIFE :)

This all leads me to a few important points to consider when you are choosing your agent. Some are from personal experience. Some are from my clients when I asked them the question. Some are just basic common sense that we all sometimes forget.


GO WITH YOUR GUT

This may not be number one on everyone's checklist, but it's served me well over the years. I usually find it serves most people well when dealing with a huge life decision like buying or selling your home. What's the vibe like between you and your agent? Do you feel comfortable? Do you get the sense they have your best interests when selecting properties to view or when suggesting a listing price for your home? This leads me to the next one...


THE AGENT RECOMMENDS THE HIGHEST PRICE FOR YOUR HOUSE

If you’re selling your house, a good listing presentation will tell you what comparable homes have sold for and how long they take to sell. It's one of the most important key pieces of information. Agents are all looking at the same data, so the suggested listing price should be close to the comparable homes sold in most situations. Pricing a home too high at the start can sometimes mean it takes longer to sell. This could ultimately mean it sells for less. If you are WAY too high for the market, buyers won't even look at your home because they think you aren't being realistic. I've worked with hundreds of buyers over the years and there is one thing that usually remains constant: The longer your property sits on the market, the more people think there’s something wrong with it. It's not always a fair stigma, but a good listing agent can usually avoid this situation altogether by pricing your home correctly. 


THE AGENT DOES REAL ESTATE PART-TIME

Choose an agent who is following your market and its daily trends. Buyers need an agent who is watching for new listings every day and will be available to show them to you immediately...especially in our current market! On the other side, sellers need an agent who will be available to show your home at a moment's notice or answer time sensitive questions about the house. Too many times I've not been able to reach another agent for days about the home they are listing. I always felt for the sellers in this situation, so choose an agent who you know will be available when needed. Real estate guidelines, processes, and laws can also change rapidly, so it's important that your agent is experienced in the current marketplace.


THE AGENT IS A FAMILY MEMBER

If your family member is one of the top agents in the area and knows your neighborhood like the back of their hand...you'll probably be fine. For most people, that's not the case. Hiring a family member can breed resentment if the transaction doesn't go as perfectly planned. And let's be honest, it usually doesn't in real estate. Firing a family member is tough, so try to avoid this situation altogether. You'll have a much better chance of keeping your Thanksgiving dinners from turning into a very awkward few hours. 


THE AGENT DOESN'T USUALLY WORK WITH YOUR PROPERTY TYPE OR PRICE RANGE

 If you’re buying or selling a condominium or townhome, don’t pick an agent who rarely sells condos or townhomes. If you are a real estate investor, find an agent who works with investors. First time home buyer? The right agent for you is going to be able to patiently explain this completely new process and walk you through every step. Many agents have multiple specialties, but you want to make sure the agent is well-versed in the type of property you are dealing with. Some agents may specialize in one specific area. But if you’re a first-time buyer looking in the $200,000 range, you are probably not going to get much attention from an agent who handles mostly $5 million luxury home listings.


THE AGENT IS NOT A STRONG NEGOTIATOR OR MISSES DETAILS OF THE TRANSACTION

Having a strong negotiator can sometimes save you money. You need an agent that knows what you want and the most effective way to make that happen.  Once the terms have been agreed upon, the most important work for an agent is to make sure the sale closes for their client. This is where the details can make or break you. Is the buyer pre-approved for a mortgage? Is the home free of liens? Was the termite inspection ordered? Was the appraisal accurate? Was the home inspection completed on time? Were you guided properly on resolving the home inspection results? Was the contract filled out properly in your best interest? Missing deadlines or fine print on a real estate contract can quickly turn a wonderful home buying experience into a nightmare. Details, details, details.


TALK WITH RECENT CLIENTS

A good agent should have an extensive list of past clients who are more than happy to discuss their experiences. Some reviews can even be read online at various websites. Ask to speak with people who have bought or sold similar homes to yours..even in similar areas. Nothing will tell you more about an agent than someone who has already gone through the process with them. 


COMMUNICATION IS KEY

This one is my favorite. It's one of the most important reasons you can LOVE..or not even like...your agent. Being an agent is not a 9-5 job. It's basically a 24 hour job. When my clients are outside their normal working hours, those are usually the times I'll be showing houses or presenting them with offers on their own house. Sometimes the difference between you getting the house of your dreams is writing up and submitting a contract while everyone else is sleeping. This happens all the time! I tell my clients from the beginning that if they need something or have a question, call me. Text me. Email me. If I'm awake, I'll answer it. Everyone has their own communication preferences and certainly they won't all be the same, but it's important to choose an agent that works with your schedule and philosophy. Always be upfront with your agent about what you expect of them from the beginning.  We work for you, not the other way around!


The relationship with your real estate agent may last a lifetime, so it's important to think about exactly what you want. I'm always available to answer any questions about your home search or sale. Give me a call, text, or email and put me to the test. Let's see if we are a great fit!


Chris 



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Phone: 615-995-9986
Dated: February 6th 2016
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