When you are thinking about working with a real estate agent – do you think about what makes a good one?
Do you think some are better suited for buying and others for selling? Are you comfortable just going with a recommendation of a trusted friend or family member or do you want to do your research before working with someone?
The answers to these questions are probably different for each person and I would imagine, different for buyers and sellers. But I am here to say it, who you work with does matter.
I am also going to say something so brace yourselves for a BOLD statement, but sales volume and/or transaction numbers do not always tell the whole picture. A lot of agents love to talk about how much they have sold and it is easy to get swept up and think “well, if they are so successful then they will work for me” – then you end your search without even talking to anyone else.
Maybe you are thinking – “it doesn’t matter agents all do the same thing.”
That’s a HARD no, my friends, they do not, and I am of the firm belief that you may not truly know the difference until you have worked with a GREAT agent and a not so great one. So, let’s talk about some things you want to be aware of and even questions you may want to ask.
Are you a full-time real estate agent?
First things first, don’t hire agents that aren’t full-time. Real estate is not a part-time gig and shouldn’t be treated like a way to make some spare change.
This is likely the largest purchase of your life and it should be handled by a full-time professional. If they treat this job likes it’s part-time, how will they handle your transaction?
Lastly, real estate agents need a Rolodex filled with contractors, electricians, plumbers, etc. During every house sale, I have to call at least one of my people to get a price quote. The only way to figure out the good roofers from the bad is by doing this job day in and day out.
Do you practice dual agency?
First, let’s talk about what dual agency is. It is when an agent is representing both sides – buyer & seller on the same transaction.
If you were going through a divorce, would you hire the same attorney as your soon to be ex? No, you would not. Think about this before you agree to it when buying or selling real estate. Everyone needs and deserves their own representation.
When you drive by that listing you are interested in or walk-in to that open house and fall in love – keep your wits about you and get your own representation.
The listing agent will not get you a better deal.
And if they are spilling secrets about the seller then please realize that’s betraying their client. The question becomes if they will really protect you when push comes to shove.
On the flip side, if you are selling your house one of the things you want is your agent to bring qualified buyers to the table. Your agent can actively and purposely recruit buyers without representing them.
If they tell you they can’t or that there is no conflict of interest in representing both parties, please pause and think about that.
Do you work well with others?
Real Estate is a collaborative business. While we will cage fight for you if it needs to be done – we do not automatically go to the Thunderdome in a transaction.
Be wary of hyper-aggressive agents who think this is the only way to do business. I personally think this is a very outdated way to handle your transaction.
You know what is classic – professionalism. When you work with someone who places importance of developing and maintaining positive relationships with other agents, they bring a built-in network with their clients who just may be your buyer.
At the end of the day, we all must work together to get to the closing table. Your interests can still be protected in a collaborative transaction.
Do you think outside the box?
The thing about real estate is: 1.) no two transactions are the same and 2.) nothing is a sure thing. The process has unexpected and often unpreventable hiccups. You will need someone who can not only adapt but can get creative when it comes to problem-solving.
Are you organized?
We work with multiple clients at a time. If you are not organized you are going to drop balls and miss things.
Every transaction is too important to take the risk of working with someone who does not have systems in place to keep up with the constant demands and deadlines in real estate. An unorganized agent can cost you the house of your dreams.
What is your communication plan?
Probably the thing I hear most about agents is they do not communicate or follow-up. Sometimes I think a lack of communication steams from that lack of organization.
This is not a business that you can just sit back and let things happen. We must be hands-on every step of the way and when we are doing that, we should be talking to you at least once a week.
Even if we do not have any real update to give, we need to be prepared to say that. This is also a business of hard conversations, but we must have them. Ignoring them does not help anyone.
Are you present at showings?
This one really is for the sellers. There are many agents who insist on being present at every showing. Sometimes as a seller, especially if you are living in a house, you want your agent to be present. Also, if there is something really unique about the property the agent should be present to explain.
I’ve found it can be very helpful to have the listing agent present providing that they know their boundaries.
Following buyers from room to room talking can be distracting and quite honestly annoying to prospective buyers. Often times they feel rushed and just want to leave.
On the reverse, a really great listing agent will keep it simple and informative. They can be welcoming, but not overpowering. And they don’t make the appointment about themselves.
The other question I would encourage you to ask is “do you answer your phone?” and how they prioritize scheduling showings of your house. Believe it or not, there are many agents who simply don’t answer their phones and/or make it very difficult to make an appointment to show their listings.
You don’t want to lose a prospective buyer because your agent hasn’t responded. Even worse, they have such a limited schedule they can’t make showings work to the buyer’s convenience.
If we start working together and it is not working out can I terminate the relationship?
Both you and your agent should be clear with one another on expectations, timelines, communication, and marketing plans. But sometimes, no matter how well laid out the plans and details are – personalities can clash.
For example, I had been working with an out of state client for over a year. When she finally selected a house to make an offer on, she turned the financial portion of the transaction over to her partner. Things did not go well, and I ended up saying I didn’t think I was the right agent for him. He never responded after that. Shortly after, the house we were writing an offer on went under contract. I am assuming they moved forward with another agent.
Did it sting? Did I lose money? YES, and YES. Did I do the right thing? Also, YES.
When I say it is important to me that you have a good experience with me, I mean it. Terminating the relationship is not ideal and the financial loss can go both ways. I hope that we never have to get to that point. But, it’s better to know on the front end!
What areas do you work in most frequently and what number buyers vs. sellers do you work with?
I have heard people say they only want to list or buy with so & so because they sell the most houses in their neighborhood.
Maybe if all the other factors match up, that is the right choice. But, I would suggest you consider agents that work in many areas with both buyers and sellers.
These agents may bring a broader perspective and knowledge to the table. They also may have a vaster network of agents they have worked with. When they have that network, they can call on them when listing your home or looking for your dream house! This goes back to real estate being a collaborative business.
Having a great working relationship with your agent is key to a smooth and successful transaction. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and be candid about what’s important to you during the process.
Ready to buy or sell with Team Be New Orleans? Text us now!