It’s a great question. One that people grapple with often, but perhaps not enough. Most know several agents, but can make the wrong selection just based on either not knowing their background or worry over having to tell them “no”. This can be a neighborhood realtor, the relative, the old high school classmate, etc. You should know that ultimately this decision is YOURS and there are several factors that come into play which I will describe below and some are more important than others, but all are worth consideration. My hope is that this will allow you to make a more deliberate decision when your time comes to hire an agent.
Part Time/Full Time – Rarely is a part time realtor going to be as well suited for your real estate needs as a professional who does this all day, every day. Part timers come in different forms…some are semi-retired, but most never really got started and do this as a “hobby” (good grief) or just to add some supplemental income to the household. This usually means less experience which can lead to clunky real estate transactions, missed contingencies and lack of market knowledge. They also often have less connections in the business which means they don’t know as many contractors for repairs and less of a chance to know their counterpart (the other agent). Read further why this is no bueno.
Personality – A couple things on this… first of all, you don’t need to be “besties” with your realtor, but your personalities should be at least compatible. Another less considered aspect is that strong, gregarious personalities get more deals done. If you have an introverted, reserved agent this sometimes equates to more difficult negotiations (selling your position). An outgoing, emotionally savvy agent is more likely to make that connection and make people see their point of view which will lead to signed contracts, smoother inspections and ability to handle problems as they arise. This isn’t to say that realtors have to be the life of the party and some can come on way too strong, but it certainly helps in standing out when in a ten-way bidding war. Real estate agents are salespeople after all, not home showers or real estate enthusiasts.
Accessibility – Speaking of bidding wars, I have personally engaged in a 17-way bidding war (I won it by the way!) If the house is decent and properly priced, you’re likely to see multiple offers on it in this market. From a buyer’s perspective, your agent should be at the ready to show, make calls and put together paperwork in short order. In this day and age, one can see a property hit the market, show it and submit an offer within a matter of hours. Not days. Every realtor worth their salt goes on vacation so it’s important to ensure they have arranged for coverage in case the perfect home pops up while they’re away. In fact, I have personally gotten that call from a friend who has an agent they can’t get a hold of and they ask me to write up the agreement of sale! Thank you very much!
Experience – How many deals does the agent get to the settlement table a year? It’s a fair question and one that you should ask them. I would say that if your agent isn’t closing a deal a month, you’re at the edge of having a realtor who is either not really hungry or unable to get deals done in enough volume to give you assurance of their capabilities. Keep in mind, you don’t necessarily need a realtor who does 100+ deals a year since they aren’t doing most of the work and their team is handling 95% of it. Be prepared to be “handed off” in that case. Someone who does a couple dozen deals a year is a nice mix of track record and you can be more certain that you’ll be working with he or she through all stages of the transaction.
Specialties – There is a misconception that all realtors can handle all types of transactions. You’d be amazed at the sub-specialties we realtors develop over time. Some by accident and some by design. A high-end luxury realtor on Philadelphia’s Main Line (home to some of the country’s best real estate) is not going to be your go-to if you wanna become a Section 8 landlord. Conversely, an agent who specializes in investment properties might not be the best for selling your primary residence. Those different specialties require different real estate languages. Sure, they could muddle through but is that what you really want?
In closing, it is important to be wary of the agent who claims to know everything about all areas of real estate. I can appreciate the irony of that statement since my hashtag is #asksethanything and even the name of my blog (www.asksethanything.com) implies that very thing. However there has always been a caveat to that assertion in that if I don’t know the answer, I will find someone who does and, if needed, hand you off to someone who can more easily assist you in achieving your real estate goals. For most people, their home or real estate investments involve high dollar amounts, so be sure you think through who the best person is to help you along the way. I strive to help as many people as I can in any given year, but will be honest with you if there are professionals better suited.
If you have any questions on anything I’ve discussed, I hope you will reach out to me via 610.804.104 or firstname.lastname@example.org