What to Look for When Choosing a Realtor
The process of buying or selling a home can be one of the most intimidating or pleasurable experiences in your life.
With an agent, you don’t have to meet the homeowners or buyers because the agent will be representing your interests. You will also have an easier time because agents are qualified professionals who know the buying and selling process, and all the challenges involved.
Choosing the right real estate professional to handle the selling or buying of your home can be overwhelming with the many options available. It is common to have trouble finding the right one because many people don’t know what to look for. Some people usually go with the first one they come across – which is never a good idea; you want to look for a Realtor that is the perfect fit for you and your situation, and someone that is an expert in where you want to live.
This is one of the best ways to get a great referral. Most everyone’s first network to check is family and friends. Almost everyone has a family member or friend that has bought or sold a home and has experience with a real estate agent. See if your family or friends were happy with their experiences and if they would be comfortable recommending someone.
Ask Your Attorney, Accountant, or Other Local Professional
If you use an attorney, accountant, bookkeeper, landscaper, etc… – there is a high possibility they have done business with real estate agents before and can give you solid referrals. Start asking around and you are sure to find more than one name of a real estate agent that is active and does a great job in your area.
Internet Search for Names or Checking Reviews
Do a Google search for real estate agents in your city and you will find some of the best agents in your area. You can also run a search on the referrals you were given and see if there are any reviews online. Customers are usually honest and will write reviews when they are satisfied or not.
If there is a complaint, then you should check and see what the complaint is and if it has any relevance to your case. Whether it is or not, make sure you bring it up if you decide to meet with the agent in question.
Meet the Realtor
Once you have narrowed down on your list, you will have a smaller number that you can meet individually. You can start by making a call and scheduling a meeting. Once you meet with the realtor, you will be able to know if you are comfortable with him/her or not.
Make sure you ask any question related to buying or selling your home, or any negative things you found online. If there any concerns you have about buying or selling your home or working with this agent,, this is the time to speak candidly. Above all else, follow your gut.
Make Sure the Agent Knows Exactly What You Want and Where You Want to Live
When meeting with an agent, make sure that they understand exactly what you are looking for in a home – the size, features and amenities – so it will be easier for them to find homes that are a match. You’ll also want to narrow down the areas where you want to live.
With this information, the agent is going to be able to save time and energy for everyone involved and only show you homes that fit your criteria.
Know Your Budget and Get Pre-Approved for Financing
In today’s market, most sellers won’t accept any offers on their homes without proof of down payment funds and a pre-approval letter from a lender that says you are qualified and able to buy the home. (You will also want to look at if a variable rate mortgage or fixed rate mortgage is best for you; there is more on those subjects on this site.)
Nothing is more frustrating as a buyer than finding a home you fall in love with, only to find out that it is outside your budget. Looking at homes that you can’t afford doesn’t do you or your emotions any good so make sure you know your numbers, get pre-approved and only look at homes that fit in your budget and match what you want.
In some markets, you may find that the economics of the market make it so you can’t get as large a home or all the features you want. Getting a budget together and getting pre-approved will help you shape your expectations and set yourself up for success.
Make Sure Your Agent Knows the Area You Want to Live
If you know the city, communities or neighborhoods you want to live in, make sure your agent is an expert in that area or knows someone who is.
A Realtor that is an expert in one community is solid-gold. That agent will likely know the floor plans, features, amenities, tax rates, school system ratings and more of the neighborhood. They will also probably have a large network of clients and know who is getting ready to retire, move, downsize, etc..
Sometimes having an agent who is an expert in the area means you get information on listings before they even hit the open market, giving you a shot at the property before anyone else. It is a safe bet that the agent will have helped buy and sell many homes in the area and know details about each home and owner. This will help the agent guide you to the best properties in the area that meet your needs.
Make Sure the Agent Uses the Latest Real Estate Marketing Tools
While most people have heard of the Multiple Listing Service, or MLS – a software the real estate industry uses to list homes nationwide so real estate professionals can access and search for properties – there are other tools created just for the real estate industry that go over and above just listing a property.
Besides the MLS, there are companies that create Realtor websites – for individual real estate agents to market themselves and all the properties they have under contract – to single property websites – where there is an entire website dedicated just to one single property – to tools that integrate and enhance the features of each kind of website.
You want to make sure your agent has access not only to the MLS, but to the extensive real estate marketing tools that are available both online and offline.
Make Sure the Agent Has Excellent Follow Up
Lastly, make sure you talk with your agent about staying in touch, staying on top of developments in the process and staying ahead of any anticipated challenges. In almost every single transaction, there is a challenge that comes up that will need swift thinking and even swifter action on one or both parties involved.
Make sure that you and your agent are the type that are going to stay on top of all the little details so that there are no surprises or delays in your transaction.
Once You Have Found the Perfect Agent – Go House Hunting!
Once you have covered all these bases and decided on a Realtor – get out there and get house hunting! Your agent should be able to start showing you homes fairly quickly – depending on your market. With all the work you have done in selecting your agent, defining your market, what you are looking for, where you want to live and how much you can afford, you have done as much as you can to make the process as quick and enjoyable as possible.