Since you are reading this article, I’m sure you know that the home-buying process can be extremely stressful. It takes a lot of time, patience, and trust to actually get to the closing table in most cases. To help ease that stress, most people rely on a professional real estate agent.
Hiring a real estate agent will save you a lot of headaches when purchasing a home because they are the experts when it comes to buying and selling properties.
However, that doesn’t mean that you can select just any agent. Those who are looking to buy a home tend to be a little more relaxed when selecting an agent because they don’t have to pay them. For buyers, it’s extremely important to make sure all of your ducks are in a row because if not, you may find yourself liable for anything that goes wrong later down the road.
On the other hand, those who are looking to sell their homes tend to select their agents a lot more carefully since they have to pay them a commission. But there are still a lot of sellers to jump into this blindly and end up unhappy. We all know that it is especially difficult these days to find a real estate agent who is qualified, displays strong customer service skills, completely understands real estate values, and does it all with your unique goals in mind.
At any rate, both buyers and sellers who fail to do their due diligence before hiring an agent can end up dealing with one big mess. This may seem like common sense to you, but you would be amazed at the number of people who do not select carefully. However, forgetting one step in the due diligence process can leave you with the wrong property – or even no property at all.
To avoid all this frustration and to make your home buying or selling process run a lot smoother, there are 5 things you should know:
- Check Your Real Estate Agent’s Reputation
If an agent was referred to you, be sure to ask the referrer for specific basic details such as: Have they ever worked with the agent personally? If so, were they able to deliver?
Even if they were referred, you still want to check them out even further. Go online or telephone your local realtor licensing board to verify credentials, confirm that their local realtor license is up to date and that there are no unresolved complaints on file for the agent.
Check with the brokerage firm that the real estate agent works for and find out if they are a top producer, what kind of hours they keep, and if they would be the top recommendation from that real estate broker for the type of real estate you are buying. You should also ask the agent for names and numbers of current and former clients. Interview each one to learn about each local realtor’s strengths and weaknesses, and ask how the real estate buying experience went.
Was the estate agent attentive to your specific needs and requirements? Did they demonstrate an understanding of all the local real estate prices the movements of the market? During the closing, did the real estate agent keep you informed? Did the real estate agent treat your property and family respectfully? Would you hire him or her again?
Another thing you can do is ask the agent for references and contact them to get honest feedback on the agent’s performance. It also wouldn’t hurt to do a simple Google search for the agent’s name and read any data that comes up. Look for reviews that may have been done for the agent or any comments on their blog. Also, check them out on Social Media networks like Facebook to see what’s being said about them and gauge how well they communicate.
- Be Sure to Interview Several Different Agents
All agents are not created equal so don’t make the mistake of hiring the first one you come across. While the agent may seem nice and knowledgeable, you still have to check this out for yourself.
So many people get sucked in to going with the first agent they speak to. While they may be a nice person, that’s not the only quality they have to have in order to make your transaction run smoothly.
Interviewing several different agents is not difficult and can be a pretty easy process. Simply pick-up the phone and call 3 or 4 of them up and get a feel for them, their level of knowledge, and whether or not they are the right fit for you. Create a small list of questions and have it handy while doing your interviews so you don’t miss a step.
Here are some suggestions of questions you should ask:
How long have you been in the business? While this should not be the deciding factor, it does help to know the experience level you’re dealing with. This is not to say that a newer agent couldn’t help you.
But if it came down to a decision between two agents who meet all of your other criteria, the experience level could be your deciding factor.
Ask the agent if they have worked with any comparable clients in the past year. You want an agent that has experience closing deals that are similar to your specific situation.
For instance, if you’re looking to buy a home for $75,000 and the agent you’re speaking to only deals with $500,000 and up properties, then you may not want to work with them.
This is because they may not work as hard for you because they’ll be getting paid a lot less than they’re used to.
If you are selling your home, ask them if they have prior “selling” experience. A lot of real estate agents are either “buying” or “selling” agents… and some cover both areas. However, you don’t want to get into a situation where you have a buyer’s agent handling the sale of your home.
“Buying” and “selling” are two totally different beasts. They require different processes and different types of knowledge in order to be effective.
Ask how they will promote the sale of your home to make sure they have a plan. Believe it or not, some agents to not put a lot of effort into marketing your home but some do. Some different promotion methods include newspapers, MLS, realty website, mails, billboards, post cards emails, or open house?
Ask about their commission rate and any other fees involved in your transaction to ensure that there are no surprises at the closing table.
If buying a home, ask them about their process for actually finding a home for you. This will verify whether or not they understand your needs and requirements.
- Do a Quality and Customer Service Check on the Agent
Once you’ve interviewed some agents and narrowed it down to two, ask them to compile a list of properties that meet your criteria, see how quickly (or slowly) they respond. This could be a clear indication about how they will handle your project. Watch for confidence in their understanding and interpretation of your request. If there are any red flags, you will definitely be able to see them before you agree to work with them as long as you interact with them on a few occasions.
- Choose an Agent Who Has Experience in Your Market
Some agents will take on listings that are in areas outside of their area of expertise. While these agents may have a great track record in their neighborhoods of expertise, it doesn’t mean they will be able to help you with your home. For instance, let’s say you’re looking for a home in a distressed area with lower market values and other conditions. There are certain factors that the agent has to be familiar with to ensure your transaction runs smoothly.
In this case, you don’t want to end up with an agent who only deals with luxury real estate because they may not have the proper knowledge to effectively complete deals on the other end of the spectrum. The reality is that home prices and marketing strategies can vary greatly from one city to the next. In fact, they can vary greatly from one neighborhood or subdivision to the next even when they are in the same city.
Therefore, it is in your best interest to stick with someone who has experience selling homes in the same neighborhood or city where your property is located.
- Personality Matters – But It Should Not Be the Deciding Factor
Of course you want to work with an agent who is nice and easy to deal with. In fact, it is recommended that you seek out this type of agent because you don’t want someone who has to potential to turn-off any of your prospective buyers or sellers.
So it is extremely important that you choose an agent who has a pleasant personality. However, that should not be your only requirement. They still need to have the proper skills and knowledge to get the job done. Just because they’re nice doesn’t mean that they are good in all areas.
The most frustrating thing for a home buyer or seller is to have a really nice agent that can’t deliver! This could end up leaving you with an unclosed deal and wasted money.
In conclusion, the real estate buying or selling process does not have to be painful. In fact, it can be a very pleasant and rewarding experience when you take your time and go through all of the points mentioned in this report. The unfortunate reality is that you have to really select your agent carefully if you want to avoid some of the potential headaches that come along with buying real estate.
Agents are meant to make the process easier – not harder. However, you have to have the “right” agent on the case to make sure that there are no major hiccups with your project. You want your transaction to be smooth and move very quickly. If you don’t have the right agent, the process can be very long and disheartening. All of this can be avoided simply by taking the time to get to know your prospective agents, asking the right questions, and selecting an agent based on the most important criteria.