Having bought, sold, developed and let various properties over the years, one thing I’ve discovered is the value of a good Realtor. Like us, they come in all shapes, sizes and from every possible background. Some are cheap, some cheerful, some expensive and some understated. There’s not really any such thing as a good Realtor but there is such a thing as an effective one. Even ‘effective’ in this context can depend on your needs. When it comes to finding a home, most of us tend to go with our heads, but a little professional input can help to make the right decision. Evaluating real estate agents, is not as easy as it might at first seem. Here are a few tips on how not and how to find the right Realtor for you.
Do Your Homework
One thing that continues to amaze me is the number of people who don’t bother to research realtors at all. Many friends and family simply pick a well-known real estate agent and assume that a good reputation means they’ve found the right realtor for them. In some cases this has led to long periods waiting for a sale, or short periods waiting for a very disappointing price. Many people seem to forget the word ‘hiring’ in the phrase ‘hiring a realtor’. Treat the process as you would when employing any professional or employee and ask for references and other vital statistics.
Those Vital Statistics
Sales figures, sales volumes, closure prices and length of time on the market are the key figures you should be looking at when comparing any realtor’s performance. High sales figures with a poor ratio of asking price/closure price indicate a realtor who can sell your property quickly but not, necessarily, achieve the best price. Similarly, a long average on the market can mean that agents are holding out for the best price, not that they’re bad at their jobs. Balance these figures against each other and see which realtor may best suit your specific needs.
Old Fashioned Word of Mouth
Even when word of mouth recommendations have evolved into Twitter, the original version of the technique is useful in the real estate world. Friends, family, colleagues and neighbors are all good starting points. Online real estate agent comparison sites offer a 21st century version of the word of mouth technique – many evaluate agents themselves and can be a good starting point if you’re moving to a different part of the country.
What a Performance
One quality that you’ll need from a real estate agent is selling abilities. Many hold open houses and there’s no harm in attending a couple held by the top ranking agents on your shortlist. This gives you an idea of their style, their personal qualities and their abilities at engaging potential leads. (Insider tip here, the best will take less interest in you as they can spot who is genuinely interested in the property they’re trying to sell).
While most of us love a bargain there’s an element of false economy in choosing the cheapest real estate agent. Lower prices in this field often mean restricted services, less time spent on your sale and a general lack of interest. Fixed fee agents have less interest in achieving the highest price and often a commission based agent will work harder for you to maximize profits. This can be an important factor if the closure price is more of a priority than a quick sale. However, if the latter is important a fixed fee realtor may be the best choice for you. Again, balance your needs here and don’t assume that the cheapest option is going to be the best.
Tired of Baking Bread and Grinding Coffee?
Having used agents who know an area well and those who don’t, I’d choose the former every time. Local knowledge sells properties as effectively as the well-known tropes of ground coffee and freshly baked bread. In fact, knowledgeable realtors can save you a lot of time grinding coffee and baking bread. Their insight into community facilities (schools, churches or sports clubs) and local infrastructure (shops, transport links etc.) is often invaluable. In most cases they’ll use these facilities themselves and can give an honest (trust creating) opinion.
The Perfect Professional
A good realtor, or rather the right realtor for you, can make all the difference when it comes to buying and selling property. Even for hardened investors finding a professional who knows how to sell, even with ‘challenging’ properties, can make all the difference when it comes to selling for the right price at the right time. Research is a key aspect finding that perfect professional and should never be overlooked.