We’ve all heard the horror stories of friends who have used bad real estate agents. Whether it’s just general incompetence or shady ethics, it’s enough to make the thought of having to select a real estate agent a chore up there with cleaning up after your pet. So, why should you work with a real estate agent? And how do you pick the right person for the job? Here are four areas you need look at before hiring someone.
Local expertise: While it’s tempting to browse national real estate websites and think all there is to picking a house is finding one within your search parameters, the truth is real estate agents are knowledgeable about the community you’re moving to in a way no national website can compete with. A good real estate agent knows businesses and their impact on market value, local attractions, architectural styles, appliances, trendy furnishings/fixtures, and heating and cooling systems. Agents also know the market and what you get for the money in a neighborhood today, as compared to the past several years.
Negotiation expertise. A good agent is your Kenny Rogers Gambler. They know when to hold ‘em, they know when to fold ‘em. Whether you’re buying your first or tenth home, an agent will have you beat when it comes to experience with real estate transactions. How low can you start without upsetting the sellers to the point where they won’t write you off as a tire-kicker? Will you offend them and lose the house entirely? What are other homes selling for in this area at the end of the day? If there are other offers coming in, what will make your offer stand out for the others?
Contract expertise. Contracts is a forgotten abyss of annoyance, and the only guide through the abyss is a good agent. There are financial and legal obligations that must be met by both buyers and sellers and an agent’s experience will make the entire process seem like a piece of cake. It’s their job to make this look easy.
Referrals. When buying a home, you’ll need a team of professionals: mortgage professionals, lawyers, appraisers, home inspectors, contractors, radon remediation experts, landscapers, moisture specialists, etc. Good news, a good agent knows good people, and will line everything up for you. An agent needs to Concierge service and built-in advisor throughout the home buying process.
Asking friends how they felt with their real estate agents through these four areas, as well as listening to what a prospective agent has to say about them, will help steer you away from predatory or disappointing agents and into a great relationship.
Photo by Cody Hughes @clhughes21