Finding a good real estate agent can give you the edge needed to find and negotiate a great deal on your new home. But with so many realtors out there, how do you find a great one?
One good way is using referrals from a friend or a family member; however, you might get referred to an agent who does not know the area where you want to buy or they may not have experience with the type of property that interests you. Another effective way is to search online, review the agent’s websites, online profiles and comments by previous clients.
When searching for a good agent, don’t be shy, go ahead and look for the BEST ones. The best real estate agents are the most active, the ones with the best online reviews, the best word-of-mouth comments, not the ones displayed on the biggest billboard, and please do not hire a friend realtor or an acquaintance. It’s awkward to say no or to haggle with a friend; the realtor you choose should work hard to earn and keep your business.
The next step will be to interview them…
Most homebuyers sign with the first real estate agent they speak with. Smart home buyers will interview at least three to five of the best agents they can find in the area.
Be wary of agents that don’t ask you many questions, and seem to be in a hurry to get started; the good ones will want to ask you questions because they also want to make sure their expertise and experience match what you are looking for.
The following are five top questions you can ask when interviewing a real estate agent and the answers you should expect.
An experienced, skilled agent will have at least 4 years of experience working full time as a realtor. Less than 3 years of experience can be concerning. Why? Because many surprises can come up during the home buying process; you want to deal with an agent who has been there and done that so that you can gain the upper hand or get into a deal you could later regret.
Another aspect of a real estate agent’s experience you shouldn’t overlook is the types of property he or she has worked on in the past. Perhaps all of their experience is with condos or luxurious properties, but you are looking for a house in the suburbs. Or, an agent may be a top realtor in one area but is not knowledgeable about the neighborhood you want to move to.
This is why you should take referrals with a grain of salt. Yes, real estate means the same everywhere, but YOUR agent should have intimate knowledge about the neighborhood where you want to move to and the type of home you want to buy.
A low number of transactions signals an agent who doesn’t have much experience. However, keep in mind that the total number of homes sold isn’t always indicative of how good a real estate agent is.
If within the past twelve months a real estate agent has not represented at least 5 – 10 transactions for similar homes to the one you are looking for, then that’s a red flag. Those types of agents might not take the time to ensure all of your needs are met or they may rush through the process and fail to negotiate a good price for the home.
Pay close attention to how the agent answers this question. The answer to this question can give you clues of whether the agent understands your housing needs, the neighborhood, and whether they have good insights about the local market.
A great buyer real estate agent will be able to take your present and future needs into account to find you the neighborhood and property that fits you best. For instance, if you have children you’ll want to find a neighborhood that’s in growth or stable stage, with good schools, recreational facilities, and good reasonable access to public transportation.
Many standalone agents are excellent but don’t ignore the value of a team. Working with a team is important, as it adds response time, availability, and the level expertise they would have with a certain market or neighborhood. Often, solo agents might not be familiar with a particular neighborhood, and the lack of knowledge may mean you could lose that perfect property.
One drawback to a team is that you might not always be working with the individual you hired. If you call to ask a question, the agent you’re familiar with might not be available which means to end up dealing with an agent you did not know. However, working with a team of agents could mean that you’ll get more attention and personalized service, especially if there are people taking care of the behind-the-scenes work which allows him or her the luxury of more face time with you.
If your agent is part of a team, find out what aspects of the work he or she handles personally, and whether you’ll be in contact with the other team members. Will the number you call be a direct line, or will you be speaking with a secretary or possibly another agent.
During the home buying process, you’ll have many questions to ask the agent you’re working with, so it’s important that you how ahead of time how you can reach him or her.
You need to know when they’ll be available to determine if there is a conflict between your schedule and the Realtor’s schedule. Ask for details such as whether they are available during weekends, evenings or how fast they are likely to get back to you.
As a buyer, there will be many details that will need to be handled before and after your offer is accepted. This includes home inspection, re-inspection, mortgage paperwork, title search, title insurance, and many more. Your agent should be there for you to make this period less stressful, every step of the way. Also enquire how often you’ll be getting updates – Will it be with a phone call, an email or both? You may have your preferences, and the agent may or may not accommodate them.
When you hire the right real estate agent, you exponentially increase your chances of achieving a successful, stress-free home buying experience.
The best buyer agents share five important qualities. I call them the five pillars
Over the years I have dealt with a good number of realtors. I discovered that much like successful business owners, great real estate agents share a set of qualities; I call them the 5 pillars – These five pillars will help you not just find a good agent, but a GREAT one.
I’ll explain what each of these means.
Pillar # 1: Experience and Negotiation Skills
Experience and great negotiation skills are by far the most important qualities to look for in a real estate agent.
Agents that are good negotiators ask a lot of questions to the seller or the seller’s agent to gain a competitive advantage that they will later use to buy the best property for their clients, at the best possible price.
Regarding experience, there will be times having there, and having done that will save you from making expensive mistakes. For example, an experienced agent would understand market cycles, and be able to process information that can affect the future value of a property.
To test their knowledge, ask the agent you meet to provide information on homes they have helped their clients buy in the last year and ask if it’d ok for you to speak with a few of their recent clients. Call those clients to fund out their experience and the type of support the agent gave them during their home buying process as well as the agent’s negotiation expertise.
Consider this scenario: You are interested in buying a house in the neighborhood “X”. There have been some reported robberies in the area and the nearby high school has consistently dropped in academic performance rankings over the last five years.
A good agent would know this information and then tell you the neighborhood is experiencing a decline which means the future price of the house will be adversely affected, and advise you to look elsewhere.
Pillar # 2: Timely accessibility to the realtor
If you call an agent two or three times and he or she does not pick up the phone or does not call you back, then perhaps that agent is not for you. You want to be able to have direct, timely access to your Realtor so you can ask any question when you are unsure about something.
There will be times when you have to move fast on a potential offer, or you may be dealing with uncertainties you want to clarify. You will want to have an agent that can be there for you providing you the right advice, negotiating, and fighting for you, so you can make the right decisions.
Make Your Expectations Known
Pillar # 3: Value-added services
Find out what people have to say about things the real estate agent has done for them. When you speak with the realtor tell them about a problem you are experiencing such as moving, storage, mortgage financing, etc. A great realtor will immediately enquire further, have recommendations, offer to help you, and follow up with you on the process.
Those are value-added services that great agents provide to their clients. The wrong realtor will hear you, but will not enquire further to try to understand you, and would not comment on a solution to your needs.
Pillar # 4: Network of professionals
The right agent would have cultivated a list of professionals that can be gold to you when finding a home inspector, a renovations contractor, the real estate lawyer, the mortgage broker, and many more. Assembling the right team in the home buying process can determine your success level, and the real estate agent can be of great help there.
Pillar # 5: A winning personality
A realtor spends most of his/her day negotiating, researching, marketing, and talking with clients. A winning personally will make all the difference not only when going through the negotiation scenarios you will encounter, but also a winning personality will make the seller and the seller’s agent want to work with your buyer realtor.
A winning agent is not a messenger that will simply deliver your offer to the seller, but a professional that will provide valuable guidance throughout the process, and someone who could watch for signs that can help you gain the upper hand.
The first home my parents bought back in 2001 they bought in a dual agency arrangement. Dual agency means that your buyer agent represents you and the seller, and owes the seller and the buyer to deal with them fairly and honestly. The issue is, the dual agency does not allow the agent to get a good deal either for the buyer or for the seller because they have to be impartial. So they assume a neutral approach where they present you the information as it is and let you decide your course of action. I don’t recommend it.
What you need is a pro realtor on your side that does everything he or she can for you to come out the winner in this important transaction.
Just like dating hiring the right agent comes down to chemistry. If everything checks out but you don’t see yourself working with the realtor then keep looking. There are plenty of great agents willing to work hard to gain and keep your business. To find a great agent you will need to interview at least 3 – 5 of the best realtors in the area and ask them questions that are aimed at finding out their expertise and experience while allowing you the chance to see if you can work together. Hiring the right agent can make the difference in achieving a pleasant experience or become another example of a deal gone bad, so take your time, and choose wisely.
Knowledge is power! To succeed in the home buying process you’ll need to know what to expect at every step of the way. You should check out our Home Buyer’s Online Course.
This is an interactive course designed in an easy to understand format; you will learn the eight steps you will need to take to achieve successful homeownership.