Home Buying in Costa Mesa>Question Details

Sandyshino, Home Buyer in Costa Mesa, CA

Is it better to have a Realtor who specializes in the area you are looking to live?

Asked by Sandyshino, Costa Mesa, CA Thu Aug 18, 2011

I am looking to buy a condo in a very specific area of East Costa Mesa and am not willing to compromise the location AT ALL. Is it better to use a Realtor who specializes in that area??? As a first time home buyer who has not lived in Costa Mesa before, I will need a lot of feedback, especially information regarding anything to do with real estate because clearly, I know very little.

Help the community by answering this question:


Thank you all for your input!! I appreciate all the advice I can get. I have read each response with an open mind and have been using all this information to research potential agents. I hope to work with one very very soon (like this weekend ;D).

Thanks again!!
4 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Aug 18, 2011
Real Estate is local. Finding a Realtor that is knowledgeable in your area is one very important element to choosing your Realtor.
3 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Aug 18, 2011
Wow, even more great responses! Thank you! And sorry I wasn't clear before (I hate that the character limit is smaller when asking question, it's hard to put in the details). When I said I know "very little" I meant more in terms of real estate, like what the value of a property is, the history, market trends, etc. I don't need someone to tell me where the good shopping or dining is or where the good schools are. I am in that area almost everyday (not so much in the summer because of the awful traffic), I've also lived in Irvine for 7 years and currently I'm in Yorba Linda at my parents'. I guess I need to make sure to find a Realtor who will put up with all my little questions. I can imagine it getting quite annoying :).

Thank you again for taking the time to respond, this is all very helpful!
2 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Aug 19, 2011
I have to chime in with SoCal Life. As an RE broker in North San Diego with my primary residence and home office in Vista and a branch office and my beach house in Encinitas I find myself as an avid surfer spending the majority of my time at the beach.

Ergo I'm really out of my element trying to sell RE in Vista, my home of 30 years, albeit I've had several opportunities. I just can't seem to focus enough time and effort in Vista to do a client any justice. I've actually turned down listing opportunities because I know in my heart that I couldn't bring myself to marketing i.e. advertising, open houses, showings, etc. which are the primary ingredients for successful RE professionals.

Howver, when my humble little brokerage opens its Coast Highway 101 doors on weekends only from 10-2 not a day goes by whence we don't get walk ins both buyers and sellers which really gets our juices flowing. I guess the crux of it is your home is where your heart is. So I'd say you definitely need to work with local agents who are passionate about their home turf and have the enthusiasm to give you, their client, the service you deserve.

I since that passion in SoCal life. I think you may have just found your RE professionals. Good luck and I hope you find your happy home.
2 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Aug 19, 2011
Lance, with all due respect, you couldn't "get up to MY speed", with respect to the area I serve - Coto de Caza - in a year, of schooling. While MOST Realtors will try to buffalo their way into working with a client, it still pays to respect their wishes, when they specify they want someone with intimate local knowledge.

I get a kick out of agents who claim intimate knowledge of ALL of Orange County, or Southern California, when they're just hoping to latch onto a client who probably won't find out about their lack of knowledge until it's too late.

What you proposed is fine for most people, but when someone ASKS for something pretty specific, I find it's usually a good idea to respect their request.
Web Reference: http://SouthOC.info
2 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Aug 18, 2011
Of course the answer is yes. Does a Maine Lobster taste better fresh caught in Maine?
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Aug 19, 2011
I would say absolutely yes but considering you know exactly what you want, I think it doesn't matter as much. I think it is way more important when you don't know what you want . Love it, Costa Mesa...my home town where I grew up... Good Luck!!!
Web Reference: http://www.di4homes.com
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Aug 19, 2011
Dear Sandyshino,
Eastside Costa Mesa is very diverse. Due to the nature of your specific needs, I believe an agent that specializes in the area as my partner and I do will serve you very well. This is where we live, work and play.

That being said, it is not enough to just specialize in the area, you need an agent that is well experienced in negotiations as well. Which we are absolutely.

Please contact me at 949-246-2078 and I can assist you further specifically in this area. As well, feel free to go to http://www.TheSoCalLife.com our website to learn more about us. We are here to help and I look forward to hearing from you.
Web Reference: http://www.thesocallife.com
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Aug 18, 2011
I personally do not believe it is necessarily best to use a Realtor that specializes in a certain area. This being the information age any good Realtor(emphasis being on good) can research and provide you with the information you need to make a good buying decision.
I believe the most important quality a client should look for in thier Realtor and vice versa is the ability to get along and communicate well with one another.A typical real estate transaction,like life can run into alot of bumps and hiccups and this is where a Realtors true worth is perceived. Intangible character traits like persistence &,intergrity ,communication & negotiation skills, provision of feedback,enthusiasm etc will provide you the client with more value than one who has gained "expertise" in certain area. Getting to know an area and becoming an expert in that area while good & will take some time to develop the prior mentioned intangibles take a lifetime to develop and in my estimation are infinately more valuable . Kinda of like comparing the external to the internal. Give me the internal anyday. It will reflect a truer picture.
For instance hypothetically speaking the fact that a Realtor has specialized in an area might not neccessarily be synonymous with competence.Maybe when the Realtor started out he was lazy and chose not to help a person who needed help in buying or selling a home if it meant said Realtor has to travel some distance. On the other hand a Realtor who specialized in an area could have become an expert because he realised that he could not assist everyone anywhere & truly provide good service to his client.His internal motivation in becoming an expert was to provide the best service possible to any client he served.
Thus in conclusion it is not the external fact that a Realtor is an expert in area that should make you pick him/her although that wont hurt. What should make you pick a Realtor are internal qualities. Values that are aligned with yours.Commitment rto serving & protecting your best interest no matter what .Trust me, pick a Realtor based on what you perceive to be in his heart, it will serve you well through the rocky places.i.e if you have an acute sense of perception and you are right.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Aug 18, 2011
Hi Sandy,

Pros and Cons. Yes, it would be good to have a local agent. Another point to consider is if you feel the agent you have interviewed will do the kind of job for you.. You may have a local agent that is not on top of things and another agent who is not in that particular area do the best job for you.. It is your decision on what you want. Every agent is different in some way or another.. Talk to you soon as I would like to interview to be the agent working for you.. Bye for now. Ingrid Ski Realtor
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Aug 18, 2011
I am sure any agent can help but an agent that is familiar with the area can give insight to things in that area that an outside agent may not know. Also, if they specialize in the area, they may even know of homes coming on the market before they actually do come on the market. Our company specializes in Costa Mesa. We have been in the area for over 20 years and are culturally alligned with Costa Mesa! I would love the opportunity to chat with you to see if we are a good fit. Working with an agent is also a realtionship so finding the right person that can work well with you is also key. I look forward to hearing from you.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Aug 18, 2011
I believe a local realtor is great, however, having worked in the East Side Costa Mesa market as well as other parts of Central Orange County, I can tell you that making a committment to a realtor is crucial. If you work with someone that you are committed to working with, they will work everyday to make sure your priorities are number one. They will go on preview and network with other realtors so they know the inventory before you do. It is important for you to do this and you will find success!
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Aug 18, 2011
ABSOLUTELY....You want somebody that knows that area well. There is nothing like a Realtor who knows the area. They can walk you through all the potential issues in that area. Good Luck
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Aug 18, 2011

Most people who are active in the business don't work in one small area, and there are benefits to having someone with a lot of experience who is outside the local group negotiating for you - they won't be worried about ruffling any feathers. And as someone who has done real estate deals in 11 different counties it's not that hard to get up to speed. It's more important to have someone who really knows the business and has great negotiating skills.

An excellent example of this: we had a client who bought a place in San Francisco where we work, and a few months later they called me to sell their place 45 minutes away in an area I didn't know at all. I tried to get them to let me find someone for them and refer, but they wanted me to do it because they trusted. Went down there and looked at a bunch of houses close by, looked at solds, and then listed and sold the property in 10 days.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Aug 18, 2011
In my humble opinion, that is EXACTLY what you should look for. Someone who KNOWS the nuances of the area. Who's been there for at least a decade. You can probably Google the specific neighborhood you want, then add Realtor, to come up with a few good choices.

Then ask to see proof of business in that area, and recommendations from former clients. That's what ALL buyers should do, instead of ending up with a random agent who answers first on Trulia, or that they find on a open house.

Good luck in your quest for an agent, and for the house you want.
Web Reference: http://bit.ly/mls-search
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Aug 18, 2011
You want someone who's familiar with the area, amenities, and comparable properties. Insuring you get the most for your money, and are not over payinig for a property. There's a resason realtors become neighborhood experts. Someone who knows the area is going to have a definite edge on someone who does not. I would be more then happy to help you out. I live and specialize in East Side CM. 949-219-2570
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Aug 18, 2011
I believe that an area specialist should be considered and is very important. A Realtor who specializes and lives in the area will know about the schools, programs, restaurants, children´s programs. And of course, provide detailed information about he specific East Side Costa Mesa you are considering.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Aug 24, 2011
I will have to respectfully disagree with the colleague below me who feels a specialist in your area is not that important. True, any top quality realtor can assemble and analyze value data for any given area. But a local specialist knows the nuances - where does one neighborhood tip over into a different less (or more) desirable one? What are changes in the offing for the area - whether new subdivisions, changes in the employment base, planned road changes that might impact the area, environmental issues....

Also important, a local specialist knows about upcoming, not yet formally listed, properties on the market. The local specialist is part of the word-of-mouth network that could gain you access to listing no one else yet knows about.

Look for a local specialist... just as you suspected. Great good luck to you.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Aug 23, 2011
Hi Sandyshino,

I have been a realtor since 2002 and I can tell you honestly that it takes me less than one day to give you a detailed analysis about any area and maybe one more day to make it iron-clad solid in terms of what the values are and what you have to watch out for in your search. In other words, yes, you need an expert but your focus should be on the service and information they can deliver to you in terms of their role in the process and in terms of their professional background.

THE ROLE of a realtor is most important for you. The listing agents will always try to sell you on their things for the highest amount of money. You have to find your own advocate (I agree with one of your previous respondents about the importance of hiring a buyer's agent; you don't pay their commission, which is covered by the listing side, but they work exclusively to protect you, not the seller). The agents who proclaim they "specializes" in one area just because they live there or have worked there for years, are not always the best choice because you cannot know how complacent they are towards changes in the area and how much they rely on old stereotypes and perceptions.

THE PROFESSIONLISM of a realtor might sound as a cliché, but it is a pre-requisite when it comes to evaluating their skill level you can always interview agents on the phone with the same 5-6 questions until you see who give you the most thorough answers without hesitation. To secure stable representation ask what percentage of their work is with buyers vs. sellers, how many transactions have they had in a particular area and if the number seems low ask them why (low number does not mean lack of knowledge or enthusiasm); ask them about their back ground before they started real estate; ask them to tell you about three problems they have resolved for their clients during a challenging transaction or a challenging searching process. You can’t make these things up on the spot 
Trust your instincts but do your homework.
Good luck,
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Aug 23, 2011
YES, without a doubt. You want to search google for "Your Specific Area Realtor" and not just "Costa Mesa Realtor". Neighborhood specialists, as we call them, will know EVERYTHING about each unit in a neighborhood. They'll know who lived there before, why they moved, and if You get the right one, they will actually LIVE in the neighborhood themselves!

Mr Credit
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Aug 23, 2011
I would say YES. I had a family member ask me to help them buy something outside of my market area. They were family so I wanted to help, but after going out once I realized that they needed somebody that knew the area. I found them an agent in their area let them do their thing.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Aug 23, 2011
I will suggest to interview at least three Realtors and choose the one that you feel more comfortable with, and you feel that it sees you as a customer for life that just a commission check.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Aug 23, 2011
Someone who knows the area will be able to assist you the best when it comes to what you need. Choosing an agent who knows the town or city will make you feel more comfortable about the the situation of buying a home. When it comes to looking for a home you want someone who you can count on to answer all your questions about the community and just other general concerns or curiosity you may have. Choosing the right agent will make this an easier and less stressful experience for you. Good luck and I hope everything works out for you!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Aug 23, 2011
Hi Sandyshino

It's definitely better to work with a Realtor who knows the area and who can assist you in finding a home that suits your requirements both from a property perspective, and from a neighborhood/amenities/lifestyle perspective :) .... especially if yourselves are not familiar with the area.

Good luck
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Aug 23, 2011
It is important to interview a buyers agent and get a few references. Your buyer's agent should be knowledgable about the area, as well as flexable to show you properties. It is also recommended to get your own buyer's agent, who represents your best interest and not the seller's agent. Most MLS and other technology have systems to set up automatic notifications of availalbe properties in your area so you don't miss out on one! Ask your agent about leads on upcoming lisitngs or "pocket listings" that they may have access to.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Aug 22, 2011
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Aug 22, 2011
You should want to work with a Realtor who is familiar with the area you want to buy in. A local Realtor can offer you not only the facts on a particular home you are interested in but he or she can provide you with local factors (closest shopping centers, doctors, school systems, trash pick up, etc). So many factors are involved when moving, some you may not have even thought of, when relocating to an area. A proactive local Realtor will be happy to help with all the localism! Good luck with your move!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Aug 22, 2011
Dear Sandy,
If you specifically want an area, pick a Realtor who works that area. They will have the information you need to make an informed decision on your purchase.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Aug 21, 2011
I would say a resounding YES. They know the INs and OUTS and have photographic memory of all the home layouts and idiosyncrasies of each street.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Aug 19, 2011
LOL! Lance, Just adding a little humor to an otherwise dull day. (NO WAVES!!)
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Aug 19, 2011
Ah so many answers here you can pick and choose the best. You have picked a highly desirable location that is why you have so many Realtor's answering this question.
I do live in the area and have since 2001. I personally believe you should pick a Realtor who you best relate to and who can search for a home for you knowing truly what you are looking for. We all have access to the same MLS but we do not all work alike. Interview several candidates and work with one that will respond promptly and has the ability to see homes from your "eyes". Good luck on your search and "Welcome to the Neighborhood"!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Aug 19, 2011
Sandy, I would be more then happy to answer any questions you might have big or small, and in know way should you feel any obligation to work with me, but I gaurantee a phone call might get clear up a number of questions as appose to multiple emails and/or posts. I will be holding an open house Sunday 2-5 @ 1506 Westcliff #2 NB. Cross streets are Westcliff and Dover. Just on the boarder of ES CM. Feel free to stop by for a viewing. Listed at $489K Standard Sale :)
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Aug 19, 2011
@John - that's a ridiculous question. I already said it was too far away.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Aug 19, 2011
So Lance are you suggesting that you would be able to accommodate Sandyshino from SF? Just curious.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Aug 19, 2011
The little questions are what we are here for!!!! Have a great weekend and look forward to your home searching journey it can be a lot of fun!!! Take care.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Aug 19, 2011
The question “Is it better to have a Realtor who specializes in the area you are looking to live.” I have to ask, “Compared to what?
If you don’t have a personal relationship with a Realtor, then it makes sense to start looking at agents that are active in your chosen area. However, if you have a personal relationship with a Realtor who, you are confident, has your best interest at heart, or knows someone who has such a relationship I’d recommend starting there. The notion that, only agents located in the small geographic area that you are interested in can competently handle your transaction is false. Remember there is no such thing as an East Costa Mesa Real Estate license. A huge percentage of buyers change their target location, home size, etc once they actually start looking because they are more informed. In most cases, they continue using the same agent if they are happy with them. I would be willing to bet that even the loudest and most experienced voices in favor of local agents have done numerous transactions miles away from their “specialized area”. Believe me, even their marketing will include the tag “and surrounding are areas.”
PROS - the local agent may come across something via local relationships before the general public. They may have a pasty client preparing to sell or know of a property that a local fellow agent might have that is not on the MLS (pocket listings).
CONS – You may end up with an agent that has tunnel vision in regards to market value. Or worse yet, is unwilling to help you get a bargain price because of the effect on the market value and their reputation in THEIR neighborhood.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Aug 19, 2011

I also answered your buyer/broker question!

Let me say that it is helpful to know the area! The agent does not necessarily need to live there to
know the area, however. I myself used to live in Costa Mesa, and still have rental property there so I do know
about it....

If you are not very familiar with the area you should remain open minded and listen to the agent about areas. East CM tends to be more expensive, so bear that in mind. I don't know your budget, but when you speak with a realtor they will tell you if it is realistic for the area or not depending upon your ultimate criteria.

Good luck,
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Aug 19, 2011
@ Bob - With all due respect, I've heard the same thing from other realtors in areas we hadn't worked before, and we have repeatedly been more successful on both buy and sell end on their turf because of our approach to the business, experience, and negotiating skills. And if I had time and your area wasn't so far away I'd be happy to take you up on that challenge.

And just to be clear, I think you should interview local agents/brokers. If you can find the best one for you who also lives and works there - great. I just wouldn't exclude a better one because he/she doesn't have an East Costa Mesa address.

Best Regards,

Lance King/Owner-Managing Broker
DRE# 01384425
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Aug 19, 2011

Yes and no...since you know the specific area, you are not looking for an agent to help you find the area. So what you want is a local agent who can work with you to get the best possible deal and terms. Of course we need to be familiar with the area....but most Orange County agents handle Costa Mesa frequently.

So...I would suggest you look for an agent that you can work with, feel comfortable with, and who you feel will really be there to help you.

Congratulations on your upcoming purchase...this is very exciting.

0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Aug 19, 2011
Forgive me, but if you know nothing about Costa Mesa, why are you so inflexible:

You are sending up Red Flags for any Agent who may want to help you.

Good luck and may God bless
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Aug 19, 2011
Good luck, Sandy! Welcome to Southern California!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Aug 18, 2011
I would recommend finding a local agent. A good way of doing so is attending a few open houses in the area over the weekend. That way, you are basically meeting a few different local agents and interviewing them at the same time. You will know which one you feel most comfortable with. Good luck with your search!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Aug 18, 2011
Sure. No, not really. Of course. Not at all.

I don't quite know how to weigh local knowledge. I grew up in NYC, and there were people in Brooklyn who hadn't left their neighborhood in over a decade. It was said some hadn't left in 30 years, except for weddings and funerals, I don't know.

There's something to be said for the provincial lifestyle. You will know an area as intimately as anyone could ever know it. There's something to be said for a more cosmopolitan lifestyle, in that while you don't know any single area quite so intimately, you have a frame of reference from which to make evaluations.

I don't think there's a "right" answer. I am not a "neighborhood" Realtor(r), and of course, I think that I am at an advantage and those who "stick to a neighborhood" are at a disadvantage. But there's another thing I've learned - the "neighborhood" agents, at least in Seattle, are usually one of two types - they cheat, and work outside of "their" area, or they're part-timers.

My concern is that the "neighborhood" agents are fighting to keep values and prices high. My comfort is in knowing that they know a lot about the neighborhood dynamic. And I don't know if either of them are actually true.

At the end of my ramble, I suggest that it is better that you use an agent that is not going to miss a property that will satisfy your requirements.

All the best,
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Aug 18, 2011
The little pro who knew too little? But just enough to ask? Very good.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Aug 18, 2011
You will want a seasoned agent to show you the ropes and knowledgeable about the process to guide you through with ease and trust. It is much more important to find someone you feel comfortable with, and someone you can trust. Most agents in the general area can assist you. I have lived in the area since I was 4 years old and am a seasoned agent. I would be glad to assist you. A First Home purchase is one of your most important experiences and you should enjoy the event. Jeri Anghel First Team Real Estate (jerianghel@yahoo.com) 714-732-7747
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Aug 18, 2011
Hi Sandyshino:

You may have answered your own questions when you said, "I will need a lot of feedback, especially information regarding anything to do with real estate because clearly, I know very little." It sounds like the most important thing to you is to find someone who can answer all your real estate questions. If that is most important to you, then worry about finding someone who specializes in the area second. Look for the agent who has the experience and patience to answer your real estate questions.

0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Aug 18, 2011
My credentials are as follows:

California Real Estate Broker, #01394564
CRS - Certified Residential Specialist
GRI -Graduate Realtor Institute
SFR - Short Sales & Foreclosure Resource
SRES - Seniors Real Estate Specialist

Please call on me as I would like to earn your business!!

Scott Cramer
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Aug 18, 2011
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