Buying residential real estate property is a journey best taken with the help of an experienced agent by your side. With so much riding on a home sale or purchase, you want the best talent possible to ensure you make the right decision.
When searching for and picking an agent you can’t put the bar high enough. Here are four qualities that I think make an excellent agent:
- Commitment: Ability to focus his or her complete time and attention on you and your needs.
- Communication: Ability to listen and respond to what you want, not just what they want to sell you.
- Ambition: Have a willingness to go the extra mile to help you find the right home or to sell a listing.
- Integrity: Putting honesty and ethics before any personal gain.
But how do you locate your stellar agent? A myriad of options are available. You can start by asking a friend or relative who has recently moved. They will have the freshest memory of working with an agent and can give a thumbs-up referral if they enjoyed the experience.
You can look through search engines to find agent websites with lots of MLS listings, which can be a sign that they are doing a terrific job. Keeping your eyes open when attending networking events and mixers can also help. You never know when you may rub elbows with a well-connected agent in a professional setting.
Next time you see one of your friends at the store or picking up kids at school you can make a quick inquiry for any of their recommendations. Often the places in your community that you are frequently in can be a source of great leads. Why? Because agents who live and work in the community will always work hard to maintain their reputation. Another tip is to drive the neighborhood in search for sale signs or drop by open houses — one, you get to see homes and how much they cost in your neighborhood; two, you can conduct an on-the-spot interview of the agent handling the open house to see if he or she is the right one for you.
My advice is to work with one and only one agent. Make sure you understand the different hats that real estate agents wear. A real estate agent can be a buyer’s agent, a seller’s agent or a dual disclosed agent. The buyer’s agent and seller’s agent have a fiduciary responsibility with respect to the buyer and the seller. A dual disclosed agent represents both the buyer and the seller in a transaction. In theory the latter solution, which is perfectly legal in many states, should work just fine. However, in reality, the dual disclosed agent will often not deliver the best results for either buyer or seller.
A final note on integrity. Honesty needs to come from both sides. When you have an agent under contract and he or she is the ‘procuring cause’ of you being introduced to a home, you should not exclude the agent from the transaction that follows. Your agent put time and effort in helping you find your dream house and is now entitled to a commission if the transaction comes through. They earned it!
This was the second article based on my book Keep Calm…It’s just Real Estate. Stay tuned for more great tips from eCommission and myself!