How should I search a house in multiple neighborhoods which are quite far apart? Should I work with multiple agents?

Asked by Shalandra Sharma, Stamford, CT Tue Apr 6, 2010

Hi, I work in mid-town Manhattan and currently live in Stamford. I am planning to buy a home in NJ. As there are multiple areas in NJ which have good train connectivity to Manhattan and are good school districts (my 2 main criteria), I am planning to look in all these neighborhoods (e.g. Edison, Secaucus, Westfield etc). Now, my question is how should I go about my search? As all these areas are quite far apart, will it be possible to have just one agent who will be able to cover them all (my guess is no)? If it's not possible, how should I start my search? Working with multiple agents is not really good idea or is it? Any help/comments will be appreciated. Thanks, Shalandra

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Jeanne Feeni…, Agent, Basking Ridge, NJ
Tue Apr 6, 2010
HI there, You are considering communities that are listed in different MLS'. Some agents are members of multiple MLS but others are not, and when they are not, access can be clumsy and cumbersome. My suggestion is to discuss this openly with your agent if you have one - she should be honest in which aspects of your search she can handle well. As an example, my response to you would be that I could help you with Westfield (Garden State MLS - Union County) and Edison (Middlesex MLS - Middlesex County) and would coordinate a referral agent to cover the Secaucus piece.

Please contact me if you would like my assistance - also, tell me more about what you are looking for. A client of mine is selling their condo in Secaucus to buy a home in the Warren or Mendham area. Case in point, I am working with them on the purchase and have found them a super agent to help them in Secaucus.

Coordinated approach with local expertise - everybody wins!

Jeanne Feenick
Unwavering Commitment to Service3
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Linda B. Con…, , Northfield, NJ
Tue Apr 6, 2010
It appears that the areas you are looking for are in different MLS areas so if you want an agent who knows the area and is familiar with the communities you are looking in you may need two agents, more often than not agents know other agents that they have worked with and you may be looking for a good networker who has a working relationship with other Realtors so that one could refer you to the other when you know the area that agent covers is not what you are looking for.
1 vote
Debra (Debbi…, Agent, Livingston, NJ
Tue Apr 6, 2010
Shalandra hello!

Welcome (almost) to NJ !

I strongly feel you need to have an agent working with you who is an expert in a particular area. Because of that, I urge you to find agents in each of the areas you mentioned, as they are NOT interchangeable, and no one agent can really cover all of them...and cover them well (no matter what someone may tell you)!

For example, I COULD show you homes in Westfield and Edison, as they are part of my MLS system, but I really don't know those towns well enough to really get you educated on them. You need an expert - an agent who has their finger on the pulse of the town. My "finger" is on the pulse of essex County and lower Morris County which have a few towns you might want to consider. The 3 towns you mentioned all have vastly different flavors to you need to take a look and explore your options.

Especially considering you are moving here from CT, you need someone who can point out all the different nuances of each area....schools, shops, what the different sections are, etc. to find an expert for each area?

I am sure some agents will come along here who can help you. Check out their websites and ask them how much business they did in a particular town. Make sure they are an area specialist.

When transferees are assigned to us - moving here and working through a relocation company, they are always handed off to different agents for different areas.
No one agent can be everything to everyone!!

Another thing you can do is look at some larger company websites... such as mine (Prudential NJ Properties - of course!!), Coldwell banker, Weichert, etc..........check out the individual offices they have in the towns you mentioned. Look through the list of agents in those offices, and their levels of experience. You could even call the Managers in those offices, and ask them for suggestions and names of agents.

I can offer some agent suggestions for Westfield and Edison.... agents I know personally, who are really experts those towns. I can't help you with Secaucus, as I don't personally know anyone who specializes there, but I am sure some will come along here.
Interview everyone (start with email and phone).............see how responsive they are to you, and see if you "click" with them.

I am not sure of your price, there might be some towns you haven't mentioned ( Millburn/Short Hills, or Chatham& Madison for example)) that you might want to add to your list. I can help you with those towns, or certainly help point you in the right direction.

This is a lot to digest.........find a few agents who will help you, and in time, you will know what town is right for you and your family.
All the best with your move....hope this has helped!

Good luck............and I would be more than hapy to help you if I can!

Debbie Rose
Prudential NJ Properties
1 vote
Jeremy S. Hi…, , Cherry Hill, NJ
Tue Apr 6, 2010

You'll probably get varying advice but I believe simplicity is always best. First determine what area is good to work best for you in terms of commute and where you will feel most comfortable living. From there see what housing options are available to you. I'm assuming you are already preapproved for a mortgage. If not back up and start there. You should already have in mind how much you are willing to spend and what that equates to in a monthly payment. This info is critical as you will find neighborhoods vary in taxes which will affect your monthly payment. Go online to and see what housing options are available in your price range. Don't just randomly call an agent. Find one who is familiar with the area your are search in. A simple google search like "Edision realtor" should generate some good results. Call or better yet send a simple email. See how quickly you get a follow up. This can be a good gauge of how well they ultimately communicate with you. Concentrate on one area at a time. Once you understand one area then compare it to another area. I hope that helps and happy house hunting!
1 vote
Bill Eckler, Agent, Venice, FL
Tue Apr 6, 2010
Depending on your specific needs, working with multiple agents may not be a bad idea. You need to be able to rely on the expertise of an agent that is familiar with the area. By not doing so, you could find yourself at a great disadvantage.

By working within one company and disclosing your unique needs you may be able to bridge this gap in a manner that meets everyones needs. Consider contacting a company(s) that is visibly present in your rarget locations. Be sure to make all parties involved aware of these arrangements making it clear the areas that the agents will be responsible for.

Good luck with your search,

1 vote
Marvin Phill…, , Lakewood, CA
Tue Apr 6, 2010
Hi Shalandra,

You initial instict is a good one. It would probably not work well if you had multiple agents working for you, however you need to be served by someone who is familiar with the area.
My recommendation would be for you to determine which area works best for you. You can start by making a list of things that are important, schools, transportation, etc. Then use this list to help you create a ranking system. Once you've done that I would recommend starting your search in the city and area that you most desire, then you can work with a realtor that has an intimate knowledge of the area. This way you'll get a great home in an area that you most want to live in. Hope this helps and happy house hunting!
If you need a referral to a great realtor in that area please let me know. I'm out in Southern California but am connected to many realtors all across the country that are great at serving their clients.
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