Find the Right Realtor
So you're ready to buy, or sell. You probably know a few real estate agents. But how do you decide who to work with? There are a few things you'll want to consider.
You'd never expect to get hired for a job without talking about your experience--so why would it be different for your real estate agent? You should never be afraid to ask about your agent's background, but you also shouldn't be immediately turned off if your agent is new to the game. Remember, a real estate agent with more experience can be better at guiding you through the homebuying process. But someone just starting out might be ready to bust her hump trying to find you the perfect home or market yours aggressively and make a name for herself. You should also check to see if your agent is licensed to be an agent, a broker, or Realtor. They’re all slightly different roles and you’ll need to choose the one that’s right for you.
When it comes to your Realtor or real estate agent, experience is more than just years on the job. That's because real estate professionals do more than just show you homes. She helps you negotiate a price, discover the right neighborhoods, and understand a fair market value. Try asking your potential agent questions like:
- How familiar are you with the area?
- What's your approach to negotiating sale prices?
- Can you recommend areas similar to where I'm looking?
- Do you have any prior clients I can call for a recommendation?
Sure, you should hire the smartest, most experienced professional you can find. But depending on how quickly the process goes, you may be spending a lot of time with your Realtor. Six months from now -- no, we aren't trying to scare you, but it happens -- how will you feel about still meeting with this person? Not only do you need to enjoy--or at least tolerate--this person's company, you need to be able to trust them to listen to your goals and needs and really understand what you're looking for in a home.
This is more than a business transaction. It's a relationship, and you should keep that in mind when hiring a real estate agent. Also, if you end up having to negotiate at the end, you'll want an agent who can keep her cool and work with the other party.
If you're moving to a new town, your real estate agent may be introducing you to everyone from your mortgage broker to a plumber. You'll want a Realtor who knows more than one home inspector (and which ones are most likely to catch things that might matter down the road) and maybe even one who can steer you to a decorator or a house painter.
A Realtor with a lot of contacts in the area will also be up to date on what's coming on to the market soon if you're buying and she'll be able to market your home to more buyers' agents.
What makes you special?
Are you a first-time buyer? Are you using a VA loan to pay for your home? Do you need to make a contingent offer on any house you look at until you manage to sell the one you're in now? Do you need a house that's accessible? Anything that makes you stand out from the pack is important and your agent should know how to work with you.
This is where experience really counts. Don't be shy about bringing up any issue that concerns you when you meet with your agent for the first time. Letting the agent know what you expect and need can be the difference between a great experience and a terrible one.
The right Realtor can make the home buying or selling process so much smoother. Make sure you take some time to decide and go into the process with your eyes open.