What should I consider when hiring a Realtor?
Hiring a Realtor is a little like finding your soul mate — it has to be the right fit. You need to get along, have trust and faith in your partner, and you need to feel like you're No. 1. Real estate relationships are not that different. As a Realtor, the absolute best way to be connected to a new client is through a recommendation from a happy previous client. And conversely, the best way for you to find a Realtor is through a personal recommendation. If you don't have the benefit of a recommendation, then I would consider the following when choosing a Realtor:
Experience counts: Choose an agent who has been there, done that. While commission is not set by law, you are likely to pay a similar commission to any agent. Choosing an agent with experience is not going to cost you more in commission dollars but will likely save you money in the end. You want to hire someone who has the experience to negotiate well on your behalf, knows how to market your property, who communicates well with you, who attends open houses and who knows their marketplace.
Hire a full-time Realtor: As in any profession, you have the full-time and the part-time employees, but for some reason real estate is like a magnet for people who want to try their hand in real estate. I have many friends who have become Realtors, and all I can say is that I probably made it look too easy! But seriously, hire someone who lives, breathes and eats real estate. You don't want someone who's in it to look at decorating, who can only work when their kids are in school or who travels constantly. Hire a professional who will take care of your real estate needs seven days a week.
Make sure your Realtor is technologically savvy: In this day and age, well over 80 percent of all buyers start looking for homes on the Internet. You need to have an agent who understands the value of the Internet, can navigate through it and who can take advantage of all it has to offer. That includes being affiliated with all the popular online real estate sites; having a website; being able to blog, post, scan; someone who has a good mobile device or who can simply return emails. They should also have a good camera and know how to photograph and market your property well.
You're not just hiring an agent, you're hiring the entire company: While your individual agent is a hugely important factor, also look at the company they keep, literally. Again, keep in mind that during the boom years when a home was sold by the end of the first week, having a company with regional, national or global resources was not that important. But the world has changed. While the weekly newspaper is still enjoyed by many, the wave of the future for real estate lies in the ability to keep up with the global macro and micro markets. Your buyer may come from around the corner, or they may come from Europe. Make sure your agent and their agency not only runs with the pack but also is a leader of the pack.
Marketing: Make sure your Realtor is creative and has an open mind. Ask them for not only a marketing plan but also find out how they will handle the worst-case scenario. In other words, what will they do to market your property if the house doesn't sell? If your house is priced correctly (and this is a BIG if), then ask what kind of out-of-the-box marketing your agent can do for you.
Finally, I would advise you to interview different agents. This is a professional relationship, but you will need to feel comfortable with that person — you will be spending many hours either looking at houses, talking, emailing, negotiating or receiving updates. This is a relationship that can go on for months to years. Ask around — a good Realtor will have a good solid reputation, and people from within the town should know who they are. Hire someone who has strong ethics, who is honest and who takes your business seriously.
Do you have a question for our real estate experts? Send it to email@example.com.