Buying a home or selling your home is one of the biggest financial decisions a person makes in their lifetime. Most of us are not buying yachts or private jets, so a house or investment property is the most common large purchase or sale the everyday working family will make at some point in their lifetime. The old saying "you get what you pay for" is a commonly known proverb which stands true even in the process of selecting a real estate professional to help you make this sale happen.
If an agent is charging a percentage greater than the average it is likely for a reason, the business must be coming in and they can afford to not take your listing at a discount. It's perplexing why anyone would think they should sell their home "For Sale By Owner" to save on commission without taking into account all the other important data a well trained/experienced real estate professional will have.
A realtor who has accomplished multiple transactions has a much more knowledge on the structure of real estate contracts, a much deeper understanding of the mortgage approval process, way more experience in regards to every facet of the real estate industry, and much more profound understanding in regards to what can and cannot be done in a negotiation (the argument for never selling your home yourself will be discussed at a later time.)
With all of that in mind, how does one find such a professional? Here are the top five things to look for when selecting a Real Estate Agent:
1. Check for National Association of REALTORs designations or local board certifications.When searching for a top producer you should know that the law requires the agents to use their full legal name on all their advertisements and business cards, and they may appear to have some designations or certifications after their names. Some examples are SRS (Sellers Representative Specialist), ABR (Accredited Buyer Representative), SRES (Seniors Real Estate Specialist), PSA (Pricing Strategy Advisor), or GRI (Graduate Realtor Institute). There are many more that you may find but the reason to look for them is because they are proof of a realtor who has gone above and beyond with their training and education. Most state requirements are not that difficult to complete so when a Realtor has earned designations, they are much more focused on growth and staying knowledgeable. The GRI is one of the hardest to accomplish as it takes the longest amount of time and highest cost. What the public doesn't know necessarily is that the Nation Association of REALTORS (NAR) takes the subject of ethics very seriously, and in all of these designations they are constantly hammering into the minds of the Realtors studying to keep their ethics high and in check. The chances of you finding a great professional is much higher if they are attempting to achieve greater levels of knowledge in their spare time; keep in mind they still have families to take care of and a business to run.
2. Are they telling you what you want to hear? or are they being honest with you?More often than not you will encounter an agent who is more focused on being your "friend" and making sure you like them when they should be focused on getting you the results you're looking for. When an agent meets you for the first time, they will immediately assess your needs and desires to see if what you want to accomplish is realistic. Many buyers think in the beginning they can negotiate the price down from what they see online and many sellers love to point out the custom finishes they have paid for in their home. What you will not know if you are not a licensed experienced professional is how the market is behaving in regards to both those scenarios. A good realtor will always tell you the truth as opposed to making promises that cannot be delivered. Top performing salespersons and brokers do not seek praise, sympathy, or approval; they know from experience already what can or cannot be done and will not waste time trying to pull a rabbit out of a hat. When you board an airplane, do you walk up to the pilot and tell him how you want him to fly, what direction he should head, and how the landing should take place? No sane person would. You would sit down and enjoy the ride while they get you to the desired location. The same principle applies here, trust what you hear from them, besides they only get paid when they accomplish the goal.
3. Check their sales history.It can become a lot of work for a Realtor to constantly update their professional profiles on the major listing websites like Zillow, Realtor.com, Trulia, Hotpads, Homes.com, Redfin, or Homesnap. There are even more websites that are not mentioned; the point being made is all of those profiles need maintenance and then they should also be marketing on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok, and the list goes on. As a consumer you can type in the agents full name and the word REALTOR after and you will likely find a profile pop up for them somewhere on the internet. See if you can find a sales history because experience is obviously the best teacher, just keep in mind it is no longer as important as it used to be that your realtor be a "local" agent. You will see in their sales history they might have sold properties all over a wide area and this is an indication that the person is well rounded with experience. It used to be important that a local agent would sell your property or find you a home but now in 2021 information is widely accessible and even knowing the smaller details about a town can be discovered with a few hours of a Google search. It is also important to keep in mind that the moving patterns of the general population show that most people are migrating from state to state, or from city to suburbs, and vise versa. When a REALTOR has sold and bought with clients in more locations they are more likely to have experienced a wider scenario of problems/hurdles that pop up in a transaction than when they are solely focused in one area. They have experience with multiple local government agencies, local contractors and vendors, and even legal or accounting professionals from all different locations; this makes the Realtor a much greater problem solver because of their experience managing a wider range of business.
4. After meeting with them, are they the right fit?You've done your homework and set up interviews with an agent using the above information and now you met them in your home or their office. It's time to make a gut decision; it should be very easily recognized when you meet a professional using the information above. In fact you have weeded out so many others who are likely not on the same level as the person you are interviewing. If you meet with the person and you get the feeling they are honest, charming (this is important in sales), and competent to get the job done then go with what your gut is telling you. There is a phenomena that occurs when a person has too many options to choose from and you can be rendered incapable of making a decision and now you are back where you started before weeding out the people with the above steps. The worst thing you can do is interview more people after you meet someone you like; yes someone better can be out there but the time, energy, money, and attention it's going to require from you is a cost you will pay for indecision. Besides if you meet the right person, it should be a no-brainer and you will know. Trust yourself.
5. The most important thing to consider:There are newer agents who might not have a long sales history and that doesn't change that fact that they will do an amazing job for you. Even new agents can access higher training courses and come to you with honesty; in fact there are many top producers who have years of experience, and hundreds or thousands of homes sold, and they can be so arrogant and unaware of the damages they create because of how inflated their ego is.
You may come across some agents who are listing almost every house in a given area, and at one point they were probably doing something good to develop a reputation that gets them so much work but that doesn't mean their mindset is still the same. It's unfortunate because too often people forget what it was like to be new at the game and not have clients to work for.
These types are easily identified by their listing presentation or buyers consultation; you will find the focus of what they talk about is on them and how great they are. It sounds likely everything the agent is saying is "Me, me, me, look at me" and a favorite ego line to drop is "Google me so you become more comfortable," don't fall for that one.
There are plenty of people in this world who get media attention or rewards when they should not. When you have a realtor who expresses gratitude and sincerity but more importantly their presentation is focused on you, you are already in a way better position than having a top producer whose ego is making all of his decisions. Find a professional who focuses on solving your problems and achieving your goals, their reputation will speak for itself in their actions.
This is the business of communication; and the realtor who is most accessible, friendly, receptive, and cooperative is the person you want to represent you no matter what side of the transaction you might be on. The realtors main job is to communicate for you with other people; pay attention to how they handle that. Do they pick up calls themselves or do they have an assistant answering your calls? Are they available when you reach out? Do they smile when they speak? When you tell them to send a message to someone else, do they repeat what you say or do they try to interpret what you told them?
The ability to relay information from one point to another is a skill not everyone has. After bringing you information do they tell you what to do or do they offer an opinion and empower you to make the best decision for yourself? If you sense an ego being an issue with the person you are interviewing it's already a bad start; confidence is required but you can spot the difference between someone with an ego problem versus someone who is confident and certain with their abilities.
With these five tips you will find someone who is well rounded, trained, customer service focused, and a great broker; because the definition of a broker is "one who acts as an intermediary: such as an agent for others, as in negotiating contracts, purchases, or sales in return for a fee or commission" and that means is they represent YOU. Make sure the person who represents you passes all the 5 points above and your biggest financial decision will be a successful one with the least amount of woes in the end. About Andrew RagusaAndrew Ragusa is the CEO/Broker of REMI Realty in Plainview, NY(remi.agency). He is a Licensed Real Estate Broker, Sellers Representative Specialist, Accredited Buyer Representative, & Short Sale and Foreclosure Resource Specialist. Andrew is a regular in the media everywhere talking about real estate issues.