When it comes to buying or selling your home, does it really pay off to have a real estate agent? And if you decide to go with one, how do you make sure they have your best interests at heart? Here are some answers and tips to help you decide.
How important is finding the right tour guide, or the right realtor, when you're buying a home? Does it really matter who a person chooses to be their agent? And, can the service really vary that much from person to person?
It is so crucial to find a real estate agent that is suited for your needs; it can make a huge difference in the level of success you have when buying or selling a home. You should never choose somebody because their mother plays the piano at church, or their father is a soccer coach on the weekends. But so many times, I hear that is the very reason why someone has chosen their real estate professional; because of an outside connection. They are trying to help someone out; trying to help them get started. But we don't make decisions in that manner for other things in our life, so why should we do that when it comes to one of our largest investments? For instance, if I were going to have heart surgery, I'd want to make sure that my doctor has performed that type of surgery more than once.
What are some of the things that a person who is looking to buy a home should be looking for in an agent?
Experience is one thing that can not be surpassed in any other formula. Experience is absolutely crucial. How many years have they been in the business? How many homes have they sold? I've had listing appointments where the agent had not sold any property for a year and a half and they had tied the property up for six month; so experience is a really important issue.
Unfortunately a lot of agents have gone to part-time status because it's been so difficult in the marketplace out there. Make sure that the agent you choose is given your cell phone number and that they are available all the time - it's really important.
Areas of Expertise
So often an agent is a specialist in one particular area of town, or one particular town, and if you're not in that area you're out of their comfort zone. Do you really want to explore the purchase of your largest asset with somebody who is not familiar with that area? I wouldn't.
And something I think a lot of people don't think about is whether or not their agent has knowledge of the different financing options that are out there right now. Having this type of knowledge is crucial because just a 0.5% interest on a $150,000 loan over its term can mean $16,000 lost or saved, so it's really important that the realtor direct you to the proper lending source.
Negotiation Skills; How do you find out if that person has those?
Negotiation skills comes back to experience. I was talking to an agent the other day who says she never negotiates because she doesn't want to offend anybody. Well my goodness, in this kind of market if you're paying cover price, you're probably paying too much. So it's really important to find an agent who has strong negotiation skills; the last time I personally bought, I made everybody mad during negotiations but I said "Hey, you never know until you ask."
What about inspectors?
This is another huge factor. Once you buy a home it belongs to you, so you want to make sure that the home has been dissected by somebody who is absolutely thorough. It is such a crucial part of it.
There is a unique home-selling technique that has given rise to great success for many people.
Anyone looking to buy a home that has one to sell, should look for an agent who is willing to cut their costs in half by lowering the commission and doing their portion for free; the selling part can be done totally free of charge. The reason an agent has the ability to do that is because they can make their commission when you use their services to purchase your next home. Essentially, an agent sells two homes to make money on one, but that allows people in today's market to sell their homes when many of them would otherwise be sitting there for years at a time.