When buying a house, the real estate agent can be vital from negotiating you the best deal to making sure you are going to have an investment when you decide to resell it in the future. Whether you’re embarking on your first real estate transaction or you’re a seasoned veteran, having the right real estate agent is crucial to a smooth process. But with over 2 million agents in the U.S. alone, how are you expected to find the right one for you? Well let me help you with that and knowing the right questions to ask. First, start by asking friends and family for referrals in your target area. Find out about their experiences and, hopefully, you will find a name that keeps coming up. Once you have a couple names, call the agents and set up a time to go over some basic, but absolutely essential questions.
- How long have you been selling real estate?
- What is your average number of clients?
- What is your ratio of buyers to sellers?
- What area do you cover?
- Are you part of a team?
- Are you equipped to handle my unique situation?
- What type of communication should I expect from you?
- Do you have a recommended vendors list?
- Can I have the contact information for three references?
- What questions do you have for me?
This question is key because it can lead to so much more than simply several years. While it is true that experience doesn’t necessarily equal success, real estate is a commission-based business and it would be very difficult for an agent to survive for a long time providing awful service. An agent who has seen many different situations is less likely to be rattled should any bumps be encountered down the road.
Or if you really want to be blunt: Do you, and will you, have enough time for me? No one wants to feel as if they’re thrown to the wayside while their agent is working with dozens of other clients. If your agent is working with a high volume of clients, find out how he or she plans to remedy the situation should you need additional support. Does she have other team members who can help? Does she have a licensed assistant who can offer advice?
As you talk with agents, you will find many works with primarily buyers or sellers. On many teams, there are designated buyer agents and listing agents. While it’s good to know one thing very well, this can also lead to a limited perspective. How well can your agent be expected to know what a seller may be thinking if he’s only worked with buyers, or vice versa? Not only that, but should you be looking to sell your current house and buy another, the transactions will be much more seamless should one agent be able to oversee the entire process.
You will likely encounter agents who are neighborhood experts and others will cover a large geographic region it all just depends on the area. Typically, the more rural areas are the ones that the agents will cover a vast territory even up to several counties. In more metropolitan areas, agents typically have their target area which is a specific region of town or specific neighborhoods. It’s best to find someone in the middle. The internet now allows agents a better understanding of a larger territory but doesn’t mean they can cover an entire state while maintaining intimate knowledge of local markets. And when working with that “neighborhood expert,” they may try too hard to fit you into a shoe that doesn’t fit. Find someone who works both in and around your main area of interest.
Working with a team can have many benefits, but the relationship you will have with the other members should be clarified from the get-go. Within a team, its members will have a wider level of experience and you will often find one has more intimate knowledge of specific situations than another. However, it should be disclosed up front if the team plans for you to work with one agent the duration of the transaction, or if you will be meeting with different people at different times. You shouldn’t expect to work with just one agent, only to find you’re passed around at every step along the way.
Are you a long-term investor, first-time homebuyer, house flipper, or selling an estate? These are just a few of the unique scenarios you may find yourself and you don’t want an agent who has little to no experience in your specific area. Don’t be fooled by someone who answers the question with, “Don’t worry, I’ve dealt with this before.” Ask the agent what unique issues could arise and how she would handle them.
At this point, you should already notice if you and the agent understand how each other communicates. Equally important, this should be where you both set expectations for how often you should be updated, the best methods to use and who all needs to be kept in the loop. These should be determined by what makes you, as the client, feel most comfortable.
An experienced agent will have developed trusted relationships with other industry professionals over a long period of time. From lenders and title companies to contractors and inspectors, your agent should be able to refer you to multiple s ources so you can ultimately determine who works best for you. These should be recommendations but shouldn’t be forced on you to feel obligated to use only them.
While an agent should be able to accurately judge the customer service provided, no one can better say than his past clients. Obviously, agents won’t be handing out information for clients who hated them, so take what they say with a grain of salt. Ask specific, open-end questions based on your priorities.
This is the most important question you will ask. The true determination of a person’s mindset and priorities is exposed by the questions she asks. Anyone can ask how much you want to sell your house for or how many bathrooms you want in your new home. If an agent takes the time to get to know you, your goals and your priorities, this is an excellent indicator he is already setting a foundation of client-centered service, for which there is no substitute.
Lastly, let me remind you that technology allows you to find out about anything on a person this day and age. Check out agents reviews on the most popular real estate sites such as Zillow and Realtor.com. These reviews of feedback from past customers and clients on that agent doesn’t lie. If the agent has great reviews, they will likely be a great pick and if they don’t have good reviews or any reviews, I would look for an agent who is more experienced.
Nathan Fitts, Team Leader/Broker, of Nathan Fitts & Team of REMAX Town & Country is the top producing mega team in the Northeast Georgia Board of Realtors and is consistently ranked as the top producing REMAX team in Georgia. Nathan has over 20 years of experience in the real estate business of representing both buyers and sellers and has more experience in the new construction real estate market than anyone in the business. Check out his reviews from past transactions on Zillow at: https://www.zillow.com/profile/Nathan-Fitts/
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