How to Pick a Real Estate Agent
Look for an agent who has the time to personally devote to you, a solid track record, and experience in negotiating deals.
As many of you are aware, today there are many options available to people who want to buy and/or sell a property. At one end of the spectrum, sellers can privately list, advertise, market, and sell their own properties; Buyers can conduct their own research, arrange for various inspections, and negotiate on their own behalf with a seller, or with the assistance of a third party to attempt to buy a property. At the opposite end of the spectrum, a buyer or seller can employ a full-service agent to help sell or purchase a property. Additionally there are other options, which lay in between those.
If you are going to hire an agent, there are a number of questions you should ask when interviewing an agent. In starting your search for an agent, do not hesitate to ask friends, family members, and/or your lawyer for a recommendation of an agent. There are a number of factors to take into consideration when making a decision of who to hire; these include experience and knowledge; having a compatible personality with you; any particular expertise which sets that agent apart from others; etc.
The following are some of the questions you should raise when conducting your interviews of agents:
1. How long have they been in the business?
You do not necessarily need an agent that has decades of experience, but it is helpful to have someone who knows their way around the block. Look for an agent who has the time to personally devote to you, a solid track record, and experience in negotiating deals.
2. What type of training, education, and qualifications do they have in real estate?
The most successful real estate agents are the ones who keep up with the latest trends and developments in their industry. Commitment to ongoing education also shows a greater level of professionalism. Be sure to find out what industry qualifications they have.
Do they participate in more than the minimum mandated educational requirements?
3. What is their average list- price-to-sales-price ratio?
A good agent should be able to get you a good purchase price for the home you are buying or selling. Ask them about their track record.
4. What is their marketing strategy?
As a buyer, it is helpful to know how your agent expects to help you find a home. Being a good agent means more than just access to multiple listing services. Will they take the time to determine your needs and wants based on your budget? Find out if they plan to research homes in your price range and in your preferred area. Have they worked in the area long enough to understand the values and sales trends? Additionally, do they know what is happening or will be happening in the area you are interested in?
5. Do they provide references?
References are a great way to find out the strengths and weaknesses of your agent. An agent should encourage you to call the references with additional questions.
6. What percentage of their business comes from referrals?
Referrals are the main source of business for real estate agents. If an agent is competent and has a good history of providing quality service, then a large portion of their business will come from satisfied clients who spread the word.
7. How will they communicate with you and how often?
If you are expecting to speak with your agent directly regularly during the selling or buying process, be sure to discuss this at the beginning of your relationship. Some real estate agents prefer to let their assistant(s) communicate with you. That may be acceptable to you or the agent, if it is not, it is important for you to know up front.
8. What distinguishes the agent from other agents?
There are thousands of real estate agents available to help you sell or purchase a home. Find out what separates your choice from the crowd. Is it that they are honest and trustworthy? Are they excellent negotiators? Do they make themselves available when you need them?
9. Can they refer you to other experienced professionals?
Quality agents usually have a strong network of people to whom they can refer clients such as real estate lawyers, home inspectors, trades people, mortgage brokers and lenders. A good agent can save you time and worry in locating the services and people you need by suggesting people who they know and trust.
10. Will they personally handle the buying negotiations?
Work with an agent who is committed to you and who will be one of the ones who personally handles your negotiations. Some agents let their assistants handle the submission of purchase offers and that is not what you are paying significant commissions for. You want your agent representing you, not the golf course
If you have some tips for picking an agent or some stories, please feel free to add your comments below in the comment box!