Your husband asks you where you want to go to eat Friday night. Great question. Of course, you’re not entirely sure why he doesn’t just tell you where he wants to go eat Friday night, but whatever. You’re on it.
You think about what you’re in the mood for — Italian. Great. — and grab your phone. Two hours later, you’ve landed on The Chosen One and call to make a reservation — only to find out your restaurant is closed because of the labor shortage.
Well, at least there’s this: You put more work into choosing a place to eat one meal than most people do into picking whom to represent them on a hundreds-of-thousands-of-dollars financial transaction that comes with a 30-year commitment. Kudos!
Seriously, it is disheartening when clients come to us after being burned by other Realtors whose less-than-stellar representation cost them significant time, money or both. To help stop you or anyone you know from picking an agent as haphazardly as a 4-year-old does his outfit for the day, we offer you this: How to Choose the Right Realtor by Asking 5 Easy Questions.
Question #1: Is this your full-time job? Be careful. Some agents will tell you that it is, but what they mean is that it’s their only outside-the-home gig. Many still are working far less than 40 hours a week. What you want to know is that your agent is all-in on your transaction and that this is his career, not just a job or side gig. This might be your single largest financial transaction of your entire life. You deserve someone who does this full time and exclusively.
Question #2: Do you have backup? Realtors who work alone or with maybe one or two assistants are more often unavailable when you need them most. You might see a great house that’s perfect for you pop onto the market on Thursday and want to see it before anyone else can nab it, but if your agent doesn’t have adequate backup and has, say, a doctor’s appointment or is on vacation, well, you can kiss your dream home goodbye. The larger the team, the more backup there is and the less risk you run of having no representation at a key moment.
Question #3: Can I reach you reliably? Real estate isn’t a 9-to-5 job, and it doesn’t function on a Monday-through-Friday schedule. Yet the truth is, many Realtors jumped into this business not so much to help clients but to not have an office job with a boss looking over their shoulder. Coupled with Question #2, this leaves you unable to find answers to important questions in a timely manner. Your agent should be reachable in some way — by phone, text, email and/or chat app — every day of the week, no matter the time of day, and you have a right to expect them to return your communication in a reasonable amount of time — whether it’s Thursday afternoon or Sunday night.
Question #4: Are you an expert in the local market? When it comes right down to it, this is what you hire a Realtor for. Not many folks are experts in real estate. Very few have an accurate finger on the pulse of the housing market in the region, city and neighborhood. Your Realtor should. He or she should be able to give you accurate, up-to-date information on comparable homes being bought and sold in the specific area in which you are looking so you can create a wise pricing strategy for your own deal. More than that, they should be able to tell you about important community features and resources. After all, when you buy a home, you’re not just buying a house; you’re buying the entire neighborhood.
Question #5: Can you make my deal less stressful? The reality is, no matter what, buying or selling a home involves some stress. As we said, this could very well be the largest financial transaction you’ll ever be involved with. What can your Realtor do to take some of that stress away? We’ve already talked about some things you should be looking for: Can you reach them reliably? Will their experience and expertise help you avoid the things you don’t even know you need to avoid? But it’s more than that. You’re looking to hear how your potential agent is going to make your real estate transaction less of a process and more of an experience. Yes, there’s going to be some stress, but if your Realtor can help you see a vision of what life is going to be like six months from now, a vision in which you’re looking back at what just happened and you can say, “Ya know what? That wasn’t nearly as stressful as I thought it would be,” well, then you might have found yourself the right agent.
So now that you know what questions to ask, how do you find potential agents to ask these questions to? A good internet search for “Best Realtor near me,” is often a good start. But don’t go on that alone.
- Check out their websites. Are they smooth, easy-to-navigate and professional? That’s a good indication you’re dealing with a team that will operate much the same.
- Stalk their social media. Are they involved regularly on Facebook and Instagram, for example? Do their employees look like they actually enjoy their jobs? Can you relate to them as human beings, not just as real estate people? Are they posting more than just pats on the back like, “Hey! Look what we did! We sold a house!” and helping make you a more informed potential client?
- Ask your friends and family. A good recommendation from a trusted confidant goes a long way. But don’t just take the name and move on. Ask your friend or family member the five questions above and see if they can answer them positively about the agent they used.
- Check out their reviews. Take a look at Google, Zillow, Yelp and other places in which people rate and review their experiences with Realtors. It’s a good idea to throw out the most exuberant and the most critical, but after that, don’t look solely at the number of stars. Look at what people are actually saying that can give you an idea about how the agent or team might answer the five questions, above. A quality, experienced Realtor will have at least 500 positive reviews when you add up the recommendations from all the various sites.
So there you have it: You now know how to start your search for a real estate team and how to select the right team from the pool of those who make it past the first cut. Be thoughtful and deliberate. Again, this is a huge financial decision you’ll be making. You want to make sure you have the right person by your side, someone who will bring calm to any potential storms while also giving you the confidence to make wise decisions as you look to close the deal.
The Allen Brake Team