Buying or selling a home is a major financial decision and is one that should not be taken lightly. Commercials for acid reflux disease poke fun at people who try to treat their own medical conditions instead of seeking advice from a physician. “You wouldn’t let your doctor take your place…” the advertisement cajoles, “…so why take the place of your doctor…?” Real estate deals are complex and time sensitive transactions that require the help of a trained professional. Finding a capable real estate agent is not as difficult as you might imagine.
When most people think of a real estate agent, they think mostly of the person who takes you from house to house looking for a suitable place to live. But there is much more involved in a real estate transaction. Your agent needs to effectively market your current residence and needs to develop a strategy to help your home sell quickly and at the best price possible. Any real estate agent can put up a “for sale” sign in your front yard, but there is more work that needs to be done. Unfortunately too many real estate agents feel the job is done when the sign goes up, but putting up the “for sale” sign is only the beginning.
Helping you to find a new home and making sure you get the best deal requires good negotiation skills and a good knowledge of the market. Being able to ascertain quickly what you want and need in your new home is also an important quality for a real estate agent. The less time you spend looking for a home is more time with your family. A real estate agent who is readily available is invaluable. A real estate agent shouldn’t make you do all the work looking for properties. You have other important things to do every day. A good agent will research listings, preview properties, and schedule appointments to see available listings for you.
There are several ways to come across the name of a good real estate agent. You may ask friends, co-workers or relatives for the name of someone they have used successfully in the past. Successful agents thrive on referrals from their past customers and giving excellent quality service is the best way they earn those referrals. A referral is an excellent way to start.
You might also begin your search by looking at homes on the internet or in newspaper advertisements. Many successful agents and brokers advertise regularly in real estate magazines and in the weekly newspaper. But don’t limit your search strictly to those agents or brokers. Let your fingers work the keys on your computer and search the internet as well. You can begin by doing a simple “Google” search for real estate agents in your town. Another valuable resource is the local Association of Realtors® The members of this organization are members of the National Association of Realtors® and are held to the strictest of ethical and performance standards in their transactions. Members’ profiles and contact information are available on the associations’ website. Don’t forget to look at the agent’s personal website as well. There should be some testimonials about the quality and integrity of the services and performance from some of the agent’s past customers that you can use for references.
When you find a candidate(s) to consider, set up an interview to meet and inquire about their experience and their recommendations. You are looking to find someone you feel comfortable with as well as someone who has good technical skills and presents themselves professionally. Trust is probably the most important quality to look for as this person will be bringing strangers into your home and will be spending a great deal of time with you as well. If you aren’t comfortable with the person it doesn’t matter how good or how knowledgeable they are.
Some of the things an agent should present to you during your meeting are how they plan to market your home, and how they will determine the market value and appropriate listing price? They should also tell you about the methods they use to keep you posted on the progress of your sale and what to expect from the time your listing starts to the time you finish the closing. You’ll want to know how the agent handles the presentation of offers from buyers as well.
If you’re a first time buyer or you have already sold your home and you’re only looking for an agent to help you with the purchase of a new one, you’ll want to know how the agent will handle presenting your offer to the sellers, too. Preparing and presenting offers is just as much an art as a science. There are critical deadlines involved during the time an offer is made and throughout the period afterwards when the offer becomes a contract. You’ll want someone who knows how to successfully navigate this process and has good office resources like a transaction coordinator to help keep everything in order.
If you are relocating to a different part of the country, ask your agent if they have and can connect your with their national relocation service. The services available through a relocation team can greatly reduce the stress that inevitably comes with an out of area relocation.
Remember that if you are unhappy with the services of the agent you select at any time, you can always terminate the relationship and find another agent. That is why you should always discuss the fee and commission structure with the agent before you sign on the dotted line. If you are a buyer, most if not all the fees and commissions paid to your agent come from the seller. If you are the seller, you will have to pay a commission to both the listing agent and the agent who procures the buyer, which in most cases is another “cooperating” associate or broker.
In either scenario whether buyer or seller, you won’t pay a commission unless a sale is consummated and closed. However, you may be responsible for a fee if you terminate a contract to purchase or sell, and you should be sure to ascertain up front what those fees are, if any, and how they apply.
Doing your homework before retaining the services of a real estate agent helps to assure smooth sailing from start to finish. After all, you wouldn't trust a doctor to sell your home, right? Choose a professional Realtor® to do the job. It’s the job they are trained to do, and they do it very well indeed.