People dream of picking the perfect home with the amenities they can’t live without. Yet, picking the right realtor for your needs could be even more important. Your realtor can make sure home buying or selling experience goes smoother, faster and possibly cheaper.
“Real estate transactions aren’t always easy. So make sure you have an agent who knows values, knows the local market and knows the area,” says Traci Jennings, broker/owner of RE/MAX Real Estate Center in Ames, Iowa.
Since the real estate market has been strong the last few years, a lot of people have gotten into the industry because they figure it’s easy money, and it’s easy to get involved, she adds.
“But the brokerage market is changing, including the technology used. My opinion is that there are lot of new, very inexperienced agents out there, and some haven’t done many transactions at all,” Jennings remarks.
So, to make sure you are getting the best person for you and your hopes and dreams, here are seven things to consider when choosing the right realtor:
Choose a realtor, not just an agent
The American Homeowners Association (AHA) say that the terms agent, broker and realtor are often used interchangeably. But not everyone is a realtor. The term identifies a real estate professional who is a member of the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and is held to a stricter code of ethics, which sometimes goes beyond state law.
Check licensing, background and years on the job
The NAR and professional licensing websites through individual states can tell you how long realtors have been licensed, Jennings says. But remember that just because they have been licensed for 10 years doesn’t mean they have a lot of experience. Ask them how many sales they have made in the past year, and check real estate websites that offer mini-resumes of agents.
Search their listings
If you go to the agent’s or their company’s website, look for all their listings. Do these homes match the type you are selling or want to buy? Or do they only have foreclosed homes or luxury homes, but you want a new built median-priced home? Finding someone who understands your wants and needs.
Understand their designations
The NAR and other organizations offer schooling and designation or certifications for various types of real estate expertise – such as vacation homes, foreclosed homes, military or senior citizens. There are also those who can help divorcing couples, condo buyers, those who seek out luxury homes, and those who want a cabin in the woods.
Interview a few realtors
Even if one person seems good for your situation, find a few more. Make sure to interview them all and ask questions about their experience, their marketing plans, whether they work alone or have a team, and do they have any vacation plans in the near future.
A client should be able to trust and have fun with their agent and be completely honest with them,” Jennings says. A lot of realtors become friends for life with their clients. But not every client wants that. Make sure you understand where your agent is coming from and their personality traits.
Pay attention to their response time
If someone has all the right credentials, then, personally call them. The amount of time it takes them to call you back should be a green light or red flag, Jennings explains. Busy realtors are busy. If they are with a client, their cell phone voicemail should say they are with another client and they will call you back. It also should say that they will get back to you in the next few hours – not a few days.
Find someone with experience plus negotiation skills
There is a low inventory of homes across the country. So, that means there is going to be more and more crazy, multiple offers going to sellers. In a strong market you have to have a realtor who can win your offer over all the other offers, she adds. “Inexperienced agents will lose out on many houses to agents who have thought through on how to present the best offer in that market.”
“It’s really about the client getting somebody to listen to them about their budget, their concerns and their needs,” she says. “This is a stressful process. There are expectations on both sides. Setting expectations from the get go is the key to whether you have a successful relationship.”