Choosing A Realtor
The decision to buy or sell a home is a major financial decision not to be taken lightly, but often times the perception of real estate agents is that one is as good as the other. People need to suit their needs to the agent they choose to represent them in their transaction.
While every person who is in business admires the client who recommends they to a friend, that recommendation may not be appropriate for your needs. Finding the right person whom you will be communicating with and will be representing you and your money, can be a difficult decision to make, but with the right information and tools will be a smart one.
â€œReal estate has always been a mark of independence and freedom in this country,â€ says Donald R. Brenner, professor emeritus at American University. â€œOwning property is very important, and when you deal with someone who is going to help you buy or sell a piece of property, youâ€™d better find someone that knows what theyâ€™re doing.
â€œIf you pick up the phone book and choose from the yellow pages, you wonâ€™t make a better decision than if you picked up the telephone book to choose a brain surgeon,â€ says Brenner.
Shelley Oâ€™Hara, author of â€˜The Complete Idiotâ€™s Guide to Buying & Selling a Home,â€™ says, â€œWhen you announce your desire to purchase a house, you may be surprised at the number of real estate people who want to represent you. Agents come out of the woodwork. You wonâ€™t have to worry too much about finding an agent â€” you do need to worry about finding a good one.â€
Paul Purcell, a partner in Braddock & Purcell, a real estate advocate in New York City, agrees. â€œBuying a house is the most important financial transaction most people will make in a lifetime,â€ he says.
â€œThe most important thing when either buying or selling a home is to select the right real estate agent, but people usually go about it backwards. They read a newspaper or get one of the home magazines in the supermarkets, and they call about a home they see advertised. They should first select the real estate agent â€” one who will understand what they need and can navigate the system for them.
â€œAdvertising is designed to make the brokersâ€™ and agentsâ€™ phones ring. Typically no one buys the house they called for, but from that point on, theyâ€™re joined at the hip with a real estate agent they donâ€™t know anything about â€” whether they are good, bad or indifferent or new to the business. They need to find an agent before they find house.â€
Brenner explains, â€œYou must make inquiries before you sign with an agent or broker. Commissions are usually substantial, so some real estate agents will try to sell you anything. Theyâ€™ll tell you every house is the best house theyâ€™ve ever seen, every room is the prettiest, your kids are going to love it, and your dog is going to bark nicely. Theyâ€™ll tell you anything!
â€œIf youâ€™re selling, your property may be the most valuable thing you own and it is of utmost importance to find an agent you can trust,â€ Brenner says. â€œA real estate agent has a high fiduciary duty â€” a duty of trust and confidence. It is the most important duty of any sales person or broker in real estate. An agent must disclose all the material facts of any transaction â€” everything they know about the property, good or bad. If a salesperson knows there are three inches of water in the basement every time it rains, he is obligated to disclose that fact.â€
Ask a friend â€“Â Chances are you know someone who has used a Realtor to help them in some manner. Whether to purchase or sell a home or land, or simply to consult with regarding the timing of their decision.
Find your brokerage firm first and ask for the best agents â€“Â You may be attending an open house one Sunday and you come across an agent you are impressed with. They may not be the best person to represent you because they often have the interests of their seller first and you second.Â â€Sometimes the broker is associated with a franchise, such as Century 21,â€ says author Oâ€™Hara. â€œIf you select a franchised broker, you have the advantage of national name recognition and usually a strong national advertising campaign.â€ But beware. â€œYou arenâ€™t guaranteed a great agent just because you selected a well-known real estate franchise. You should select a firm based on that officeâ€™s reputation â€” not the reputation of the national firm.â€
Choose a Realtor â€“Â Being licensed by the state to sell real estate, an agent may also be a member of the National Association of Realtors. They must adhere to the strict code of ethics that allows the distinction of Realtor to be displayed and used.Â Brenner says, â€œThe National Association of Realtors has a code of ethics that will knock your socks off, and they are very strict in dealing with people who donâ€™t abide by them.â€ Also, only Realtors have access to Multiple Listing Services (MLS) through which members share listings and have access to many more properties than non-members. You can locate a Realtor in your area atÂ www.realtor.com.
Avoid dual agencies â€“Â Choosing to be represented by the same agent who represents the buyer can conflict in the negotiation process. Try to avoid dual agencies unless you have a deep abiding trust in your agent.
Choose and agent that is experienced with your price range â€“Â If your agent is not used to dealing in transactions that have little economic incentive, then they may lose interest and become more of a hindrance than a help. Likewise, if your agent is not used to dealing with high priced transactions, they may be a little lost while trying to navigate â€œMillionaireâ€™s Row.â€
Choose an agent that is patient and takes the time to listen and explain â€“Â Your decision to use a real estate agent is based on their expertise in their field. If they cannot find the time to sit down with you and explain, thoroughly, the process in which you are engaging in and the complex terminology, they probably are not very experienced; or friendly. If your personalities clash and you find yourself struggling to get along with that person, ditch them. There is no need to deal with people who you could not see being your friend outside of this very personal business transaction.
Scheduling â€“Â If your agent doesnâ€™t work on Sundayâ€™s, donâ€™t use them. If your agent is not a full-time agent, probably best stay away. You need to find someone who will work with you on your schedule and your time. While you need to be respectful that this is their way of making a living (and they donâ€™t make a living until something sells) they need to be open to visiting you when you are available.
Choose an agent who can and will provide other services.Â Will they help arrange a house inspection, refer you to qualified lending professionals and real estate attorneys, and conduct a study of the propertyâ€™s value?
The biggest challenge is to find the agent that will work the hardest for you.
You should interview agents just as though you are hiring them for a job, because you are! And remember that you are doing the agent a favor by giving him your business.â€The only way to find the agent thatâ€™s right for you is to sit down with them and ask questions,â€ Brenner says.
If youâ€™re selling, ask prospective agents about their marketing plan for your specific home, emphasizes Mitchell Herman, a Florida Realtor and owner of Flat Rate Realty USA, which offers FSBO sellers the ability to list their home on the MLS through a flat-rate plan.
â€œAs a professional salesman, I interviewed agents who wanted to list my home and I asked them how they would earn their fee. They offered an undefined marketing plan and an MLS listing. That was it,â€ he told Bankrate. â€œIf all a listing agent is offering is an MLS listing, heâ€™s not worth the commission.â€
Whether buying or selling, Purcell advocates interviewing three different agents from three different firms.
â€œAsk all of them questions â€” the same questions so you wonâ€™t be comparing apples to oranges. Ask them to explain the market place and the market conditions â€” who is buying, what price range is moving and why. Then ask them to explain who they are and what makes them different from their competitors. Ask why you should choose them. Then ask about their firm and why their firm is different and why you should choose their firm.â€