By Erik J. Martin, CTW Features
It’s been said that it’s not what you know in life but who you know that’s most important. And that axiom also applies to buying or selling a home. Because it’s often the real estate expert that has your back who will significantly determine your satisfaction level with the entire process and transaction.
Put another way, pick the right real estate agent, right from the start, and good things are more likely to happen.
“For buyers, it’s crucial to have the right real estate professional in their corner representing them to the best of their ability. Not having the right expert can make the buying process much more tedious and complicated,” says Jason Gelios, a Realtor in Southeast Michigan. “For sellers, selecting the wrong real estate professional will make the selling process more complex and could deduct thousands of dollars from the proceeds of their sale. There is much more to selling a home than sticking a sign in the yard. The right Realtor can guide a home seller through the process with their knowledge and experience, getting them the most money for their home.”
Experience especially matters in times like these, when the pendulum is shifting, and homes are taking longer to sell than in years past.
“Having an agent that has seen the market shift before can be invaluable to accurately price your home so that it doesn’t sit or require price reductions, which we have started to see recently,” says Ryan Bowman, a Realtor and associate broker with eXp Realty.
Pick the wrong pro and you can probably expect limited communication, unscheduled showings, and disorganized contracting, cautions Doug Greene, owner of Signature Properties.
“Inexperienced agents can create a hornet’s nest of issues for you during your escrow period, whereas a good agent makes you feel like the process has been effortless,” Greene notes.
A solid referral from a trusted friend or family member can often provide the best possible chance to work with the ideal agent. Just be sure to look at several pros, not just the first agent or Realtor you are referred to or interact with.
“Look beyond hiring a family member you met at a barbecue,” Gelios cautions. “The professional you select should exhibit excellent communication, backing up what they are saying with facts and demonstrating that they have experience with both buyers and sellers.”
Strong interpersonal and communication skills make a big difference here, agrees Bowman.
“Ask yourself: How well do they set expectations for conversations and showings? And how honest are they about their experiences, numbers, and systems to support you?” Bowman asks.
Be wary about any agent who offers to discount their commission/services quickly.
“This may sound like a money saver, but if they are quick to discount their rate, imagine how they will be when negotiating the sale of your home,” adds Gelios.
Often, the least effective way to find a quality agent is hunting online.
“Be forewarned that many websites only list agents that have paid to be marketed on their sites,” warns Bowman.
Chase Michels, a real estate consultant, says an agent worth their salt will help cover the cost of professional staging.
“They should also be able to streamline the entire process by recommending lenders, lawyers, inspectors, tradesmen, and everyone in between you may need,” Michels says. “A good seller’s agent should also have potential buyers ready to go before your home is even listed.”
Another fantastic trait among high-performing agents is attention to detail, Greene points out.
“Great Realtors know comparable sales and market trends really well. They can talk about a house in a certain neighborhood or on a certain block with a high degree of accuracy and use those data points to help you form opinions and make decisions,” he says.
Take the time to vet your agent candidates carefully and ask plenty of questions about anything you don’t understand. Ask, too, for references to past clients you can contact to learn if and to what degree they were satisfied with that agent.