Proven Strategies for Picking a Real Estate Agent
You know at least 2 or 3 real estate agents, maybe even more, right? Well with more than 2 million active real estate licensees (give or take 1 or 2…) in the U.S., it isn’t a long shot that you know several. Not all real estate agents are the same, though. Picking the right real estate agent is probably the most crucial part of buying or selling your home. How many real estate agents did you interview the last time you were in the process of buying or selling your home?
Picking the right real estate agent can be the most critical part of your home buying decision. Think about what that person does for you: they locate the choices of homes, negotiate on your behalf, guide you on price, tell you what you should/shouldn’t/can/can’t do in the contract, and represent you through the whole home buying process. You want someone who knows what they are doing and understands the ins and outs of the process. Most people only “interview” one real estate agent when making the decision on who to use. Many times, they end up having a bad home buying experience because of that. They may end up doing all the research on the homes or having an agent who is representing both the buyers and sellers (a big no-no by the way – 1 person can’t have the best interest of 2 different parties during the negotiation process). While it is allowed in the state of Virginia, we do not do dual agency at MarketPlace REALTY.
Think about it this way - buying your house is the biggest single investment you are most likely going to make. You want to trust the person who is helping you with that purchase. The selection of your agent may make or break your transaction. In the long run, it will make sense to take your time selecting the right person - get recommendations from friends and neighbors and people who have just purchased or sold a home, read online reviews, and interview several different real estate agents to see who the best option is for you.
Here are some things to consider when talking to the agents and gathering information to make your decision:
Don’t let the agent tell you what you want to hear when it comes to pricing your house
Look for agents who aren’t just telling you what you want to hear, but who base their pricing opinion on market statistics they have from experience and can back it up with comparable data from recent sales in the area.
COMMUNICATION IS KEY!
As you start your interview process, pay attention to the little things, as they will go a long way during the entire process. How quickly does the agent respond to you? Are they willing to communicate via your preferred method? Think about how you would prefer to communicate: face-to-face, text message, phone calls, or emails. It is important to ensure that your agent respects this method and is comfortable with this method as well. One of the biggest complaints against real estate agents is their lack of communication skills. This is a big one to be on the same page about!
MAKE SURE THEY HAVE A STRONG NETWORK
Buying a new house isn’t just buying the house. Don’t we all wish it were that simple? You need financing, a home inspection, possible contractors, a handyman, pest control, oh my, the list can go on. Ask your potential real estate agents about their Rolodex of Professional Contacts. The better the Rolodex, the better the agent. You will run into challenges. If you have an agent who is seasoned and has experience with the different challenges, your transaction should go smoother. One of the biggest obstacles that agents are seeing is difficulty with mortgage financing. If your agent has relationships with multiple local lenders, that means they know who to use for different situations that people will be in financially. Chances are better that the deal will continue to move forward in a timely manner, with fewer hurdles to overcome at the last minute, if you have the right people involved from the beginning.
KEY SALES STATISTICS TO ASK THEM ABOUT:
Ensure that the agents you are speaking to and the agent that you choose can back up their sales numbers. You want someone with experience; someone who can show you the following information:
Number of Sales:
How many past sales have they had in your neighborhood and for your property type? If you’re selling a condo in the city, an agent that sells mostly suburban single-family homes may not be the best fit.
List vs. Sales Price:
Take a look at some of their recent transactions and compare the listing price to the price that the home actually sold for. This can give some indication of the agent’s ability to price a home accurately, as well as their negotiation skills.
Days on Market:
This number indicates how long a property was on the market before it sold. A lower number is better, as this shows how quickly an agent sells their listings.
How does the agent compare in sales volume with their peers? This can give some insight into their transactional experience – not just their tenure.
Average Sales Price:
This is the average price of the homes they’ve sold in the past. It can tell you whether or not the agent has experience in your home’s price range. This is particularly important with luxury listings. Also, do they have a mix of low to high-end home sales? If your agent doesn’t have any listings in the low-end range and this is where you fall, are they comfortable and will they give you the time you deserve as well? Not all agents do. Don’t be afraid to put them on the spot and ask about this.
Picking a real estate agent is a serious decision. Before you sign on the dotted line with your brother’s buddy from college who just passed their real estate exam last month, take time to do your research. Ask for recommendations, explore their past sales history, and interview enough agents so that you feel comfortable you’re making an informed and knowledgeable decision. Your success and overall experience in buying or selling your home depend on it.