Buying a home requires a lot of players; you are likely going to needs a great real estate agent, not a Vanna White who tells you, “Here is the kitchen.” That much you can figure out on your own; you need someone who truly cares about you. Your Realtor has to understand your needs in housing, but more importantly, he or she needs to understand your wants. A Realtor who is worth every penny he or she earns is one who has a serious amount of experience. God forbid you or a loved on ever needs open heart surgery, but if you do, are you going to want a surgeon who has performed a few dozen operations, or would you want one who has done hundreds? You also want that doctor to regard you a human being and not just as another success, a notch in his or her belt; you want a person who truly cares. Likewise, your Realtor needs to have your best interests in mind and not just be concerned with how fast he or she can get more money. You need a realtor who knows how to negotiate in your best interest, one who has been down this road before.
How do you pick the right Realtor for you? Great question — but perhaps the real question is how to avoid Realtors who mainly worry about their bottom line and couldn’t care less about you making a choice that supports who you are. Here are some questions to ask the agent you are thinking about hiring:
- How long have you been in business? Look for someone with a minimum of five years — ideally someone who has experienced a variety of real estate markets including boom times and bust times, allowing them to give you a sense of likely real estate trends ahead.
- How many homes have you sold thus far? Anything less than one hundred probably isn’t enough; although he or she might have great enthusiasm, you need more than a cheerleader — you need an advocate on your side, a filter who knows when to push and when to pull back.
- What areas do you serve, regarding both physical locations and types of real estate? If the person is willing to drive much farther than seems normal, or if he or she claims to be able to handle all kinds of real estate, from condos to commercial, run, don’t walk. This is not the time for a jack-of-all-trades. Realtors need to work within a reasonable geographic area as well as a specific housing type, rather than justifying covering the entire state and handling sales from condos to commercial properties. Anything less than that may mean the agent is focused on themselves and not the outcome for you.
- Do you have a team? If so, what does it consist of? Imagine going to a doctor for open heart surgery; do you really want him or her to photocopy your insurance card, weigh you in, take your blood pressure, do the actual lab reports, handle the billing, and sterilize the surgical equipment? No, you want the doctor to do what he or she does best and leave the rest to the others on the team.
- What systems will you be using to discover the right home? Does the Realtor like to work with for-sale-by-owners? Does he or she contact other agents to let them know he or she has a qualified buyer ready to go? Does he or she do mailings to target neighborhoods, when inventory is too low?
- Am I allowed to terminate our buyer broker agreement at any time, without penalty, if I am not satisfied with your services? I believe if the agent is as good as he or she claims, he or she will have no problem allowing you to move on and hire someone different, someone more in-tune with your needs and wants.