Let’s be honest: Most of you put more time and energy into finding a hairdresser than you do into choosing your Realtor. Think I’m kidding? I’m not!
How many of you would dare go to the first available stylist at a hair salon you just wandered into? Not many! Yet, time and again, we meet people who choose their Realtors exactly that way. When you are buying or selling your house, you are making a major life decision. It’s a decision that affects your heart, your life, and your wallet — likely the biggest financial investment you make in your life.
That’s why it is so important to choose the right person to guide you through the process. You want someone that understands the nuances of both the emotions and the numbers. It’s a tall order, but here are my top 10 tips for choosing the right real estate professional.
RELATIONSHIP WITH YOU. Whether you are buying or selling, it’s important to “click” with who you are working with. You will be spending a lot of time together for a few months, so be sure it is someone you trust and enjoy being around.
RELATIONSHIP WITH OTHER AGENTS. Reputation is everything in the real estate business. You want to make sure your Realtor is respected by other agents in the community and works with others easily. Your agent should know the agents that frequently do business where you are buying or selling. There is a lot of agent networking done behind the scenes so it’s important your agent has their finger on the local pulse.
AREA KNOWLEDGE. In addition to knowing the other agents in the area, your Realtor should actually know the neighborhoods. That means knowing what else has sold, what’s on the market now, and what the lifestyle is like in the area. If you’re buying, you will want an agent who not only can tell you when a house is a good choice, but where you can get the best pizza.
EXPERIENCE, NEGOTIATION & PROBLEM SOLVING SKILLS. You need an agent who has been around the block and has seen all of the problems that can come up in the course of a transaction. The agent’s job does not end once you are under contract. Often, the biggest problems can occur between contract and closing. You are dealing with 30 pages of legally binding contracts; it’s essential your agent knows his or her way around the contract.
COMMUNICATION. Make sure you find an agent that communicates in the style that you do. Do you prefer phone calls, texts, email or in-person discussions? Make sure your agent can communicate with you in the way(s) you prefer.
AVAILABILITY. Be sure your agent works when you don’t! This is especially important for buyers. Pinpoint what days and times are typically best for you to tour properties and make sure your agent is available during those times. Some agents work part-time or only during regular working hours. Make sure your schedules will align. If you’re selling, be sure the agent or someone on their team is taking calls and emails about your home seven days a week.
MANAGING THE BUYING AND SELLING PROCESS AT THE SAME TIME. Buying and selling homes at the same time? Then it is imperative that you pick an experienced agent who knows how to manage the process. There are many ways to approach this process that won’t make you crazy. A good agent can walk you through the different options.
RELOCATION CONNECTIONS. If you’re buying or selling in the D.C. metro area with the other end of your transaction out of the area, pick an agent who has great referral connections in other markets. You want both of your agents on the same page so your contracts, dates and deadlines work together seamlessly.
PRICING, PREPARING & PRESENTING YOUR HOME (IF YOU’RE SELLING). Sellers, it’s crucial for your agent to know how to price, prepare and present your home to the market properly. Getting maximum exposure requires your Realtor to have a marketing plan that includes a fantastic website, a mix of traditional and digital marketing, an outreach program to other Realtors, a buyer database and public relations efforts.
OUTLOOK ON THEIR BUSINESS & THEIR CLIENTS. Does your agent constantly strive to improve their service to their clients? Do they operate like a true business or more like a part-time job out of their house and their car? Is their focus on creating lifelong clients or on getting the next deal done?