Home Buying in Palo Alto>Question Details

Amallard, Home Buyer in Palo Alto, CA

If I'm looking for a great agent, what kind of accreditation should I expect her/him to have?

Asked by Amallard, Palo Alto, CA Tue Oct 2, 2012

Help the community by answering this question:


Start by asking your friends, co-workers and family member who they recommended. The experience and recomendations of past clients can be invaluable. Try to interview several realtors, before selecting one. These interviews represent a good opportunity to know them a little big better and click with the right agent.

Best of Luck,

Maria Cipollone

2 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Oct 2, 2012
The accreditation an agent lists may not reflect their training. An agent often only lists only a few which they themselves feel are most meaningful. An agent must complete "continuing education" courses to renew their license. The courses can be chosen to yield another designation.

Experience should be a key factor when choosing an agent. So far in 2012, a total of 361 different agents have completed a home sale in Palo Alto. Three of them have completed more than 10 sales in Palo Alto this year (yes, I'm one of the three). 240 agents completed only 1 sale in Palo Alto this year. Look for the top agents but not just those who are the top in your desired city.

All top agents get help so that they can spend their time doing what is most valuable for their clients. Some agents choose to limit how they spend their time by only representing home sellers. If you are both buying and selling in the south bay area, choosing one agent who regularly works with both buyers and sellers can be to your advantage. I believe representing both buyers and sellers provides the best education an agent can get.

Your agent is the face to your credibility in a real estate sale. Choose an experienced top agent.

Juliana Lee, MBA, LLB
Top 3 agent nationwide at Keller Williams Realty
Over 1,000 homes sold in the South Bay
Over 20 years experience

Web Reference: http://www.julianalee.com
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Oct 2, 2012
Everyone has their own view on what makes a great agent. Talent, genius, education? I think not. Here's what a past president had to say about how things get done.

"Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan 'Press On' has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race."

Calvin Coolidge
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Oct 2, 2012
Great quote! Thanks John.
Flag Wed Oct 3, 2012
I agree with Lance, designations don't define great agents. And an agent that might be great for YOU might not be great for the next fellow. What makes an agent great is the results they obtain for their clients. It doesn't matter how many transactions they've done or how long they've been in the business. A great agent is one who has achieved success in their niche or specialty and can show specific and verifiabe examples of that success in writing. I'd start by looking at listings and sales similar to what you intend to do and start interviewing agents involved in those deals. Ask to see their portfolio of deals with short descriptions (25 words or less) about what they did to make each deal a success. I'd interview at least 10 agents before you pick one.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Oct 2, 2012

Wow, interview 10 agents! That is bold but very thoughtful advice. I'll take it to heart and thanks for taking the time to reply.

Flag Wed Oct 3, 2012
A great agent is one who has managed to:

1. Adapt to the ever changing markets – this is important because real estate is drastically different that it was 5 short years ago – many agents have bailed out because they can’t cope with the constant changes and remain relevant. Those who have stuck and come out on top are the ones you want to work with.

2. Sell a large number of homes each year – this is very important because it means experience in a volatile market – today you need experience more than ever before. Don’t hesitate to ask any Realtor for written verification for the number and locations of homes they’ve sold in the past few years. 85% of agents in the Bay Area sell 6 or less homes a year … you can make more selling shoes at Meryns … (oh wait … they’re out of business too …)

3. Have a large number of raving past client fans who will refer without hesitation – this, in my opinion, is the most important. As an example, even though I have taken the time to earn a number of accreditations/designations (CRS, CHS, Fine Homes, etc.), they are not as important as the dozens and dozens of letters from clients who were totally delighted with the process and end result and took the time to write about it.

In fact, I’d like to see a new designation: TRF (Totally Raving Fans) … you’d need at least 50 to qualify … :)
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Oct 3, 2012
I agree with the responses you received below. I don't believe that what makes an agent great is the accreditation or courses they have taken. Those who have taken these courses will take issue but it's largely a sales job.

A good, experienced, competent agent that listens well to you and responds to your needs is a great agent. In addition, this agent demonstrates knowledge of market trends, and inventory. A great agent communicates well and often with his or her clients. These are the things that make an agent great, not a course.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Oct 2, 2012
Thanks Cindy. It's amazing how much consensus among agents there is -- accreditations just aren't meaningful. Thanks for responding.
Flag Wed Oct 3, 2012
Hi Amallard,

First of all, I must say that my peers have outdone themselves! Each answer touches to the heart of your question, and then some.

The only thing I might add to answer the question of accredition, would be to seek a professional who is accredited in the area that suits your needs. If you are short selling a home, then you would want an agent with short sales training. If you are relocating to another state due to a job transfer, you may want a relocation specialist or if you are selling a luxury home you would want to consider someone who has a luxury home sales desigantion. Do you see where I'm going with this?

Truth be told, not all designations are equal. Some carry more weight than others. I think the more important qualities and considerations in hiring an agent have already been stated below.

Best of Luck,

Barbara Grandolfo
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Oct 2, 2012

That's a great tip -- specifically looking for a relocation specialist, for instance, makes a lot of sense. I appreciate you taking the time to respond.

Flag Wed Oct 3, 2012
As someone who has earned several designations - some have required memberships that I've had lapse - I can tell you that nobody can look at your work and tell what accreditations you had!

More importantly, Amallard, is if you want a great agent - be a great client. Communicate clearly, have your finances in order, have realistic expectations, and be respectful of an agent's time and expertise.

All the best,
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Oct 2, 2012

I think you're absolutely right -- and as part of trying to be a good client, I was trying to make sure I understood clearly differences between agents before I choose one or reached out. I definitely don't want to waste anyone's time and I respect just how challenging the job you do is! I appreciate you taking the time to respond, and I'll certainly get my own house in order before I ask anyone to help me find one!

Flag Wed Oct 3, 2012
I love how everyone down plays the extra letters after a name.

They are there for reason. Because an agent took the time to do additional education and provided proof of experience to get those letters after their name. I do agree that they should not be the only thing you look for but it does make for a good start.

Keep in mind that most real estate agents get their licenses with a few weeks of education to past the test. How does additional education hurt? Experience is a definite most in this challenging market. You need more than an average Realtor. I would interview at least three local agents. Below is some questions to help you out in your interview.

1. How many years have you been in the business?
It's not to say that someone that doesn't have years of experience couldn't be a good candidate but they should have at least a few years under their belt to have the knowledge and know how to deal with difficult transactions if they arrive.

2. How many homes did you sell last year?
Just because an agent has been in the business for a while doesn't mean they've been successful. It's important that they are closing deals even in tough markets. The average Realtor only sells 4 houses a year. You need an above average Realtor selling at least 24 houses a year.

3. Are you a full time Realtor?
Having a Real Estate agent that works full time is very important. If a Realtor has to depend on another job you have to ask yourself why? Whether you're buying or selling you will grow frustrated if an agent isn't there to find or protect what is usually your greatest investment. REALTORS® are real estate professionals who belong to the National Association of Realtors. They subscribe to a strict code of ethics and are committed to ongoing education in the real estate industry.

4. How do you communicate with your clients?
There is nothing worse than not being able to get a hold of your agent, with questions, for updates, and for feedback. In today's modern world of technology, there is no excuse for them not to stay in constant contact. Ask what plan of action they use to stay in touch with their clients.

5. How do you negotiate offers on my behalf?
Ask how they have strategically gotten offers accepted in a tight inventory market or how they negotiated an offer to the client's benefit. How do they think outside of the box?

6. Do you have other networking connections?
When buying will they be able to refer you to contractors, mortgage lenders, moving companies, landscapers, pool maintenance crews, and references like that. This will be especially important if you are new to the area. Also when selling do they belong to any Real Estate networks with colleagues from other companies besides their own.

7. Do you have a personal assistant or partner to help you with the detail work?
A producing Real Estate agent usually has an assistant or a partner helping them with all the detailed tasks on hand with getting clients buying and selling. A really good agent also has a ready available title officer, escrow officer, mortgage lender, and notary.

8. What designations and certifications do you hold?
Beyond holding a real estate license, agents can opt to expand their education and skills. There are a multitude of courses and programs available. In general, these certifications mean a more specialized agent.

9. Are you willing to share the names of all of your current clients as references? Past clients?
Ask the clients how their experience was? Did they listen to your needs and put your interest first? Did they do everything they promised?

Good Luck!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Oct 2, 2012

What a fabulous list of questions - thanks so much for taking the time to share them. I realize it must get a bit tiresome to answer such questions for multiple buyers, but it's reassuring to know you would be open to being asked in the first place. Thanks so much for taking the time to reply.

Flag Wed Oct 3, 2012
The only time that I believe accreditation makes a big difference is if you are buying a short sale or REO. These types of sales are not like traditional sales and specialized education is needed. Otherwise, being a Realtor is essential, but most agents in this area are, as opposed to other areas of the country. Once you spend some time with an agent you will get a feel if they are able to meet your needs. What you are looking for in a seller's agent may be different from what you want in a buyer's agent, but the bottom line is there is no substitute for experience, hard work, a level head, and great communication.
Marcy Moyer
Keller Williams Realty
Web Reference: http://www.marcymoyer.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Oct 2, 2012
I agree with other agents, get recommendations, then you need to talk with the agent and see if they understand what you need and want. You need for them to be honest with you about market conditions and be able to give you the data you need to make an intelligent and informed offer on the property you desire.
Please feel free to contact me with any questions.
At your service,
Certified Distressed Property Expert
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Oct 2, 2012
Yes! Ask around. Personality and a can do attitude beat out letters after a name any day! Have a conversation with an agent and ask them how they can help you.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Oct 2, 2012

Great to know about the difference begin a REALTOR makes.

I'm definitely with you -- recommendations are the most important. No question.

But curious if you can tell me what the acronyms/accreditations even mean? Some agents list literally a dozen or so after their name, so now I'm genuinely curious.

Flag Tue Oct 2, 2012
Chastity -

I hear you 100%. But I suppose I just curious which accreditation are POSSIBLE or even meaningful, as some realtors/agents literally have a series of acronyms following their names and I have no sense of what these mean! Just wondering if anyone else does...

Flag Tue Oct 2, 2012
Extra letters after their name does not guarantee a great agent/broker. Look for someone who has a lot of experience and great reviews, and get recommendations from friends and family. But when you get recommendations, ask them why they are recommending them. At the end, interview several to find the one who is the best combination of experience, availability, and integrity.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Oct 2, 2012
The absolute BEST way to look for a GREAT agent is to ask your peers.
Personally, as much as letters after the name do represent that the agent has been keeping up on his/her education, it does not speak to their ability to make you happy in a transaction.
Ask your friends, family, coworkers who they worked with and why they liked them.
This may be an antiquated way to find an agent, but it will find you the BEST agent for you.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Oct 2, 2012
First and foremost they should have the designation of REALTOR®
All Realtors® are licensed to sell real estate as an agent or a broker but not all real estate agents are Realtors®. Realtors® belong to the National Association of Realtors and pledge to follow the Code of Ethics, a comprehensive list containing 17 articles and underlying standards of practice, which establish levels of conduct that are higher than ordinary business practices or those required by law. Less than half of all licensees are Realtors®.
If you have an agent in mind the first thing to do is simply Google their name. A good agent will likely have dozens of pages with infomation you can review. Then visit their website and look for testimonials and additional information regarding their careers.
Referrals from a trusted friend or business colleague are a great resources.
You are welcome to contact me directly at Deborah@TheHerridgeGroup.com 201-400-2980
if I can be of any further assistance I would be happy to help you in any way. Best of Luck!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Oct 2, 2012
Thanks Deborah. I bet many buyers don't realize there is a difference between a REALTOR and a regular real estate agent. Very helpful advice.
Flag Wed Oct 3, 2012
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