It’s easy to find a real estate agent, right? There are tons them advertising themselves on buses and at benches on bus stops, so why not just pick one of those? Those agents may be very talented at what they do but when it comes to deciding how to choose a real estate agent, you want to rely on more than a pretty face.
Real estate agents have a very important job. They’re the people that are going to help you find or sell your home. That’s going to have a huge impact on your future, especially if you’ve recently moved cross-country. They need to be carefully vetted before you sign a contract. Here are some of the things you should look for in order to choose the best real estate agent for your needs.
Choosing the Best Real Estate Agent: Big Broker or Small Firm
At first glance, it may seem big brokers are the way to go. A big name means the company is reputable. It means more connections, more referral networks, and a wider range of inventory. Big brokers have access to better technology and more potential agents to help you buy or sell your home. Bigger is better, right?
Not so fast. Big brokers are corporate and while that might give them more cred, they’re often not known for thinking out of the box. They are subject to standards that can be limiting when it comes to everything from the way they advertise themselves, to the tools they use, to the way they conduct business. Worst of all, that may end up affecting your bottom line. Agents who work for the company typically pay fees just to use the brand name. At the end of the deal, that comes out of your pocket. Though it’s not always the case, take this into considerations when you are debating between big firms and smaller ones.
Small Firm/Single Agent
Smaller real estate companies are companies consisting of one or a few agents. The agents don’t have to answer to corporate so they can give more personal input. Small firms are local themselves so the agents may have the inside scoop on properties in the area that have become recently available or discounted that bigger firms aren’t aware of. Plus, there are none of those bothersome brand name fees to add to your final cost.
On the other hand, the budgets of small companies are not as big as those of the big brokers. That can be a problem when it comes to resources. Small firms may not have the technology of the bigger companies that are necessary for large-scale networking and as a result, may have fewer connections to some of the big deals going on.
The Big Picture
Although the size of the firm may influence your choice, when it comes to choosing the right real estate broker, it may not come down to choosing between a big broker or a small firm. Individual agents can be more important than the kind of companies they work for. The best real estate broker is one you can trust. No matter what type of firm they belong to, be sure to interview them carefully before making your final decision.
Understanding the Responsibilities of a Real Estate Agent
Finding a real estate agent is like a hiring process. Because he or she will be your future employee, you should understand the duties they are required to fulfill in order to make sure you’re choosing the best candidate. Real estate is not an easy job, it takes a person with passion and ambition. Here are some of the responsibilities of a real estate agent that will give you a better understanding of the type of person you should be looking for.
- Drafting and Preparing Paperwork
In these days of computers, there may not be much “paperwork” at all, but a real estate agent is still required to handle the documents needed to buy and sell a property. That takes not only organizational skills but an understanding of the laws and regulations of real estate. Your real estate agent should know the legalese to draw up necessary documentation professionally.
- Showing Houses
Showing houses is the skill most associated with real estate agents. That takes interactions with clients and buyers and knowing how to wrangle the best deal on your home. The best real estate agents know how to get the information on the buyers and sellers without giving away too much of yours. That can go a long way in negotiating the best deals.
A good real estate agent needs to be proactive. That means developing their own business leads through whatever means necessary. This includes advertising, cold calling, checking on website traffic and even posting blogs. The more networking a real estate agent does, the more prospects he can find for you, so be sure he’s putting his downtime to good use.
Best Practices in Communicating Your Wants and Preferences
Think of your real estate agent as another version of you with house hunting chops. While you’re in this together, your real estate agent should know your wants and preferences as if they were her own. Here are some of the best ways to make that happen.
- Work with One Agent
Working with more than one agent is sort of like cheating on your partner. If you sign a contract with an agent, it is expected that you work only with him. Working with someone else behind his back could ruin your relationship and have a negative effect on any communications between the two of you. Stay loyal to keep the lines of communication open.
- How You Communicate
In order to communicate properly, you want to be clear on the method of communication. Do you prefer to use emails, texts, phone calls, or would you prefer to meet face to face? When is the best time to reach you? When is your agent most likely to be available? The method and frequency of communication can make a big difference in how effectively you get your wants and needs across.
- Making Your Wants and Needs Clear
In order to make sure your real estate agent meets your wants and needs, you need to make your wants and needs known clearly. Those should take the form of a list that you share with your agent. Include not only the must-haves but the perks you’re looking for as well. The more upfront you are about your wants and needs, the closer your agent can come to finding your dream home.
Questions to Ask
Your mom and your teachers always told you to ask questions. It’s no different when you’re choosing the best real estate agent. Here are a few questions that will help to determine if your real estate agent is right for you.
- How many homes did you sell last year?
The answer to this question is not necessarily the bigger the better. If the realtor deals with a high volume of clientele, he or she may not have the time to devote to giving your transaction personal attention. On the other hand, a small number may mean there are homes languishing on the market.
- Do you belong to the National Realtor’s Organization?
Realtors cannot officially assume the title of “realtor” if they do not belong to the National Realtor’s Organization. Membership in this association indicates that the realtor is adhering to ethical guidelines and keeping up with continuing education.
- How do you plan to market my house?
Here is where you’re going to put the real estate agent on the spot. Only an agent that knows the ins and outs of the business will be able to address it properly. Make sure that the agent is going to list your home on several websites, besides the MLS and find out where she’s going to search for buyers. You want to make sure your real estate agent has a plan in place before you hire him or her.
We hope you choose the real estate of your dreams and find the house of your dreams, and even better, that you did it by following some of our tips. Happy hunting and keep it real when you choose the best real estate agent.