Buying or Selling: How To Choose Your Realtor
When you decide to buy or sell the largest investment that most people make in their entire life, you should probably use a professional. It is a much more complex transaction than, say, buying a pack of gum. Most people think of selling something as a buyer giving money in exchange for the seller giving something, but it is so much more than that. There are a lot of steps to the home buying/selling process, but there are just as many after you find the buyer or the perfect home. Every year the buying and selling process changes dramatically and unless you have a dialed in agent that is constantly on top of those changes, you could have a very rough sale.
One of the most important things you will do is to find an agent that fits with not only your needs, but also your personality. Buying or selling a home is about as stressful as anything you will do in your life, so you will need a steady hand to guide you through the low points. Don’t accept that you have to use your friends’ friend or your cousin twice removed. That will likely end with a lot of frustration and potentially a ton of wasted or lost time and money. If you make it through the process in tact, what says that your relationship will weather the storm as well?
What do you do when your best friend that just got their real estate license tells you that she/he can sell your home quickly and it will be “fun”? The safest thing to do is to let them know that you would love to use them, but because it is a stressful situation, it could end poorly and you value the relationship more than that. Let them know that although you can’t use them directly, you trust their opinion and experience (no matter how minute). You can ask them to give you a couple names as referrals and you will interview them to potentially represent you. They will likely tell you they can separate their emotions and business, but this usually extremely not true.
In order to find a solid agent that you have no emotional connection with, you may want to find a local brand with a good track record. Go to their website and scroll through the “Our Agents” tab to find a few that could be a good fit. Pick one or two and write down their information on a notepad and why you think they will fit with you. Leave a few empty spaces for future use. Then go to another company web page and do the same thing. You need at least three choices to interview.
After you have your top choices on a piece of paper, get your pen, pad, and phone ready. You will need a few good questions to ask them. I’ll post a list at the for you pick and choose from in the coming days. Now that you have questions, pen, pad, and your phone, you can figure out the rest. Don’t stop after the first one! You are looking for a needle in the haystack of thousands of quasi-competent Realtors and Real Estate agents to represent your best interests through potentially the largest investment OF YOUR LIFE!!! That is in caps because it is important and you need to read it like I am yelling in your head!
Your next step is to pick your top two agents to meet you in person. This is a great way for you to weed out a smooth phone talker and get to the real meat of the person representing you. This should not be an intense interview, but a conversation to get a “feel” for the cohesiveness of your choices. You already grilled them to get them to get to this point and you are both too busy to waste hours when a quick cup of coffee and some chat will let you know whether you will respect their opinions as your hired real estate professional.
If you are looking to buy a home, this is a good time to ask them about where they live and work. Hopefully, you had the presence of mind to choose agents from your ideal purchasing location. If you aren’t sure where you want to buy, do some research. There are a few agents than know every area like the back of their hand, but there are way more that will say they know every area like the back of their hand because they desperately want the sale, we call this “commission breath”. It is better if you can at least pick a city on your own before having a stranger (no matter how qualified) pick one for you. They can guide you to the better school districts, but you should take some of the responsibility of picking the general geographic location.
After you have chosen them, you should attempt to be a good client. We will get in to that topic in the future. Probably more in depth than necessary, but you NEED to understand that while you are a priority for your agent, they are not indentured servants to be called on at all times of night because you found another perfect deal that is probably out of the criteria that you gave them or already under contract. Believe us, we want to get you a home almost as much as you want one. And don’t consult the all-knowing and infallible Zestimate on the “value” of the homes you are looking at. We are in the trenches in the neighborhoods.
But I digress………
If you are looking to sell your home, you should ask for a few examples of listings they have posted. It may be a good indication of how much they care after they get you to sign on the dotted line. If the pictures are shotty at best and the description is slack, you should move down the line. The best way to sell your home is to have good photos for the marketing as well as the MLS. If you have good photos then maybe, just maybe, they will read your description. If both are good, then you potentially have a good agent! As much as you troll the Realtor websites, the buyers are doing it worse. And they are annoying their agents because they found the perfect home even if it is completely contradicting their specific criteria.
Next; find out how long their listings have stayed on the market and why. The why will tell you more than you think. If they immediately back peddle or start talking negatively about their clients, move along. They won’t have your back; just like they didn’t have their clients’ back when you asked them hard questions. An answer like, “We priced it a little higher than we should have, but eventually found the sweet spot,” is a good answer. Or, “Once we got the place DE cluttered and up to its potential, it sold quickly,” is another solid answer. “The home had a lot of potential, but just needed the right person to see the diamond in the rough,” is a nice and elegant way to say the place was junk and someone finally bought it. The agent has just as much to do with those issues as the seller. Their client brought in an expert professional, so the failure is on the agent as much as the stubborn or hoarder seller. This shows more than the clients’ unwillingness to change but also the agents inability to help get their client to price the home proportionately to the amount of work needed to get the home sold.
Hopefully you choose the perfect agent with the perfect amount of experience to buy or sell your home for the perfect price. Remember that they are real estate professionals and you aren’t. You have vetted them and hired them to coach and guide you through this process, so you must give them a little bit of rope to play with. They will either hang themselves or tie everything into a perfect bow.