How to Choose a Real Estate Agent
Buying or selling a house is one of the biggest financial decisions you will ever make in your life – which is why hiring a real estate agent would be the most appropriate approach to handle the stress. While it may be tempting to avoid hiring one and sell/buy a home yourself, the costs still outweigh the benefits. For instance, you may not be able to devote as much time to potential buyers; you wouldn’t know how to market your property effectively; or you may not be aware of the nuances of the local market.
This is why you need someone who knows the ins and outs of the market. The right agent can ensure that your property is sold at the best price or that you get the best value in the market for a new place. However, with so many options available now, it can be difficult to decide which one to choose from. It can especially be tricky to filter out people who are looking out for your best interests from those who are just looking for ways to make quick money at your expense. Graana has compiled a few factors that you should consider during the decision-making process.
It takes time and effort to build a track record with quality inventory, so hiring someone who has handled several housing transactions would be your safest bet. A real estate agent should be able to make competitive offers or negotiate with sellers on your behalf – and that can only come from relevant experience. Skilled agents would also be up to date on the latest trends and patterns in the industry.
Internet sources now have a lot of information at our disposal to make informed decisions and avoid costly mistakes. Conduct a thorough research on your prospect agent’s digital presence, for example, their listing materials, website etc.
However, a long work history doesn’t necessarily mean that all the information provided would be authentic. To counter that risk, do a preliminary interview with them to get an idea about their strategy. For instance, ask them what they have sold in the last month; how much time they take to finalise a deal; what type of properties do they have the most experience dealing with etc. You can interview multiple prospects before hiring the best prospect. The one who is most prepared for their presentation would be more likely to put in more effort in working for you.
Also research according to your individual needs. Just because one seems good at their job, it doesn’t mean they would be the right fit for you. For example, the priorities of first-time homebuyers may be different from those of repeat buyers, and they would want a real estate agent who has worked with similar clients.
References and Referrals
There is no bigger credible factor than a referral from a previous, satisfied client. You can also ask your friends, family or other people in your network for an unbiased opinion. If you don’t have direct contact with any, ask the real agent to provide you with references before signing a contract with them.
You can contact other agents as well to see what rapport they have in the market. Online reviews are helpful too – they also give you a chance to check how the agent responds to negative feedback.
Usually, real estate agents are handling multiple clients at a time. Look for someone who has the capacity to cater to you regardless of how many people they are dealing with. Also ask upfront in the beginning about the availability of a support staff so there is someone always at hand to answer all your queries.
The Right Fit
Decide which qualities are most important to you and look for that in your real estate agent. For example, do you want someone who is available to talk on the weekends?
Be straightforward and clear about your requirements from the start. Technically, they should be asking you questions and taking your opinion every step of the way. Most real estate agencies already possess the technology to filter and find suitable living options for you. However, if you are still not coming across a property that you want to explore or is within your price range, it means they are just looking to benefit themselves.
If you feel like you both are different pages, you always have the option to find someone else; don’t feel obligated to compromise, especially if the agent is exerting any pressure on you.
Local Area Expert
If you are concerned about only a specific area (either for selling or buying), you can narrow your search to find an expert of that neighbourhood. If you have friends or family in the mentioned area, you can ask them to recommend an agent too. This would give you the advantage of being able to rely on someone who has a stronger understanding of the property rates.
Buying or selling real estate is a long, complicated process with multiple factors involved, and you need someone who is honest with you about that rather than paint an optimistic picture. The associated risks of your decision should be openly communicated to you, backed with facts and figures in terms of investment analysis, long-term impact etc.
The Fine Print
Take a closer look at the proposed contract before signing on the dotted line. It should state the terms you both have verbally agreed upon, including the commission the real estate agent would receive. Also pay attention to the length of the contract — the real estate is a seller’s market today so selling a property, for example, should only take 6 months or less. If the contract exceeds this time period, it would be best to hire another agent.
In the hyper-competitive real estate market, it is best advised to hire a real estate agent to help you navigate through the long process of paperwork, negotiations and large sums of transactions.