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Which real estate
How to choose the perfect real estate agent
From doing your homework to maintaining clear lines of communication, these tips will help you find a good partner for your next real estate transaction.
Buying or selling a residence is an exciting and often overwhelming experience, even for the seasoned homeowner. That’s why most people choose to use a real estate agent during their buying and selling processes — the right agent knows the ins and outs of the market, has connections everywhere, is a good listener when it comes to your wants and needs and will be able to ensure that the entire process goes smoothly.
The good news is that there are many real estate agents to choose from. Nationwide, there are at least two million, according to the Association of Real Estate License Law Officials . But with so many options comes a new challenge: picking the right one. How do you know which real estate agent one is the right one for you?
“Buying or selling real estate is one of the biggest investments most people make in their lifetime,” said Boomer Foster, president of Long & Foster Real Estate , a full-service brokerage firm representing more than 10,000 agents in seven Mid-Atlantic and Northeast states and D.C. “It’s imperative that consumers trust their agent to be able to navigate a relatively complex transaction to ensure the best result possible. The great ones are market experts, ace negotiators who are part of credible brand and earn your business from the time you decide to search for a house all the way through the point of closing. Having the right professional on your team is invaluable to achieving a successful transaction.”
More good news: People have been choosing real estate agents for ages, meaning some guidelines have emerged when it comes to choosing one. From communicating your needs to keeping your options open, these pointers may help you find your way to the agent that will make your next home buying or selling experience a breeze.
1. Search for an agent — and a company — to take you all the way
Buying or selling a home is a complicated process primarily because of all the moving parts. Thus, working with a real estate agent at a full-service brokerage — that is, a brokerage that’s part of a family of companies, including mortgage, title and insurance — can help simplify the entire process for buyers and sellers.
What’s more, working with a high-quality full-service brokerage is a surefire way to ensure that you will connect with a good agent. “The brokerage that an agent is working for can be a very good indicator of the quality of the agent,” Foster said. “We take a lot of pride in training, coaching, and mentoring our agents at Long & Foster, and equipping them with cutting edge tools and resources to put them in a position to be well-rounded real estate professionals”
Full-service brokerages that are well capitalized and have long track records of success also provide increased financial stability; if things go sideways in a transaction, these brokerages offer a reliable, constant support structure that you can’t find at other companies.
Lastly, don’t underestimate the power of the convenience that comes with a full-service brokerage. The home-buying and -selling process can be exhausting, particularly if you have to work with multiple companies for the mortgage, title, insurance, and so on. Companies like Long & Foster are a “one-stop shop,” Foster explains. “Whether you want to get a mortgage, close on a transaction, or insure the home that you ultimately buy, it’s hugely beneficial to be able to streamline the process with one company.”
2. Play the field
The top tip from most experts on how to choose the best agent? Interview more than one.
One easy way to narrow down the search is to start by researching real estate companies, rather than specific agents. A well-reviewed brokerage comes with diverse resources and a promise of professionalism and integrity. “When you interview multiple agents within the same agency, you know they’re all going to have similar training, similar support, similar structures, but they might have different skill sets as it relates to the transaction,” said Foster. “[And] a good brokerage will give you peace of mind that you have support throughout the process.”
Another piece of advice on choosing an agent? Take your time. You don’t have to go with the first person you talk to. “The easiest thing to do is to go with the first person, but sometimes it’s not the smartest thing to do,” Foster said.
3. Do background research
The web is your friend when canvassing for a real estate agent. There is a wealth of information about brokerages and agents at your fingertips, so search digital real estate websites to see what other people, especially prior clients, say about a particular agent.
Be wary of trusting everything you read online, and try to confirm as much as you can about any agent you’re interested in. You can do this by interviewing them, and also by requesting referrals.
“Ask for references,” Foster advised. “It’s always important if you’re meeting with an agent to say, ‘Give me two or three people that can give me an idea of what it’s like to work with you.’ ”
4. Ask lots of questions — and don’t be seduced by lofty promises
A common mistake experts identified is sellers’ tendency to pick the agent who promises to sell your house for the most money without making any other considerations. “Your goal is not to find the agent who promises to get you the best deal,” said Robert Taylor, a Sacramento-area housing rehabber and proprietor of the site therealestatesolutionsguy.com . “Instead, you are looking for an agent you can work with and who will protect you.”
Whether you are buying or selling, there are several things you should ask any agent you interview. First, ask about their background: their educational history, how long they have worked in the industry and what they like most about representing buyers and sellers. You should also gauge an agent’s area knowledge by inquiring about recent sales in the neighborhood. What are the lowest and highest prices in the last six months? What’s causing homes to sell at those prices and what’s determining the frequency they sell at in that area? Ask the agent how long they’ve been working in the specific neighborhoods and markets in question, as selecting an agent who truly knows the region will help ensure that you are getting the best deal you can.
Listen to the questions and feedback your agent offers to you, as well. “A good broker will help you think through your personal situation, and ask you the questions that a lot of people wouldn’t normally think of themselves,” said William Poorvu, a real estate investor and the adjunct professor in entrepreneurship, emeritus, at Harvard Business School.
5. Chemistry is key
The interview is your chance to gauge an agent’s communication style and skills. “Ask prospective agents how they prefer to communicate,” Davis said. “Does that work with your preferences?”
“Communication is the most important thing,” Foster said. “A professional real estate agent will lead the client through all the steps and help you learn the market, because they’ve got experience in the space and they should be demonstrating that with the client.”
Finally, be receptive to a prospective agent’s feedback, especially during the courting phase. Not only is that a good way to get a read on an agent’s professionalism and honesty, but it can be a valuable learning experience for you, as well, leading you to conclusions or realizations you might not have otherwise reached. “Sometimes the answers you get are not always going to be the answers you necessarily want, but in most situations, what the real estate professional is giving is what’s in your best interest,” Foster said.
Above all, the chemistry you have with your agent is important — it’s an indication of how you will interact with your broker during a deeply personal time in your life. Buying or selling property is a life-changing financial decision, so it’s important to find an agent who truly understands your needs and with whom you feel comfortable.
“You’re dealing with people,” Poorvu said. “And it all comes down to individual relationships.”
SOURCE: SOURCE: NEF6.COM