In today's DIY mentality, there are probably a huge host of reasons people give to not use an agent to buy or sell real estate. Those that DO hire a Realtor® to help them rarely understand that they need to shop for an agent just as much as they would automatically do due diligence on a large purchase. Why is it so important to not only work with an agent but also get the best agent for your needs?
WHY USE A REAL ESTATE AGENT AT ALL?
Many people think that a real estate transaction means simply searching for the place you want to buy and making an offer, or putting a for sale sign in your yard and then allowing people to tour your home. But there's many a drip between cup and lip in even the most simplistic of sales.
Without the services of a competent agent, how do you know:
- if the property is priced correctly and will appraise at that price?
- that you asked ALL the right questions and got straight answers?
- that there weren't optional inspections and tests that should have been done before closing to uncover issues you'll now have to live with?
- that the prospective buyers who "were just driving by" and would like to tour your home aren't really scoping it out for items of value?
- that the contract you signed didn't corner you into problems you can't get out of?
Those are just a few of the many issues that could really turn into nightmares - or at least, big expense - without the expert advice of a professional.
AREN'T ALL REALTORS CREATED EQUAL?
Just as doctors vary greatly in areas of expertise and bedside manner, no two real estate agents are quite the same. So how can you choose? There are several different characteristics that I suggest you consider when you interview and ultimately hire a Realtor.
A Realtor is a person who will be representing your interests in possibly one of the largest monetary transactions in your lifetime, so you need someone who is out for more than just the single transaction - you want someone who is willing to build a relationship that will last beyond the sale or purchase, someone you would feel comfortable with recommending to friends and family.
Somewhat like a Boy Scout...
- Your agent must be honest.
- Your agent must be trustworthy.
- Your agent must be someone you feel comfortable with.
- Your agent must be able to communicate in your "style," whether it be face to face, by e-mail, phone, or text.
- Your agent must be easily reachable and able to respond to your calls or questions in a timely manner.
- Your agent must be engaged with you and the real estate process from the beginning through closing.
- Your agent must be a teacher, educating you about the ins and outs, the benefits and pitfalls, of your transaction.
- Your agent must be a good negotiator so that you're getting the best deal possible.
- Your agent must have your best interests at heart.
An agent who is experienced can bring the greatest amount of knowledge to the table to benefit buyers or sellers. I've had clients who try to sell their homes, only to find that the agent who sold it to them neglected to bring up - much less, advise them - about several important things to consider before buying... and the sellers were then stuck fixing the problems that they didn't even know they had. One of the services my team offers is a checklist of all possible tests and inspections (not required by law); and my buyer agents discuss each one, helping to educate their buyer about items that may impact his purchase.
I hope I've managed to convince you to at least talk to a Realtor or two before jumping into the real estate market without one - or jumping in without the right one by your side. A good agent won't cost you money - and he or she may save you a lot of heartache and headaches.