Finding the best home or finding the best real estate agent? What’s more important?
Buying a home can seem like a daunting task to many people. That’s completely understandable considering the purchase price, the process and the back-and-forth required in most real estate transactions. Add into that mix attorneys, inspectors, appraisers and lenders, and you’ve got quite a recipe for confusion. Given the large cast of players and significant cost involved, it makes logical and financial sense for home buyers and sellers to work with a licensed real estate agent.
It seems like realtors are everywhere but how do you find the best real estate agent for your needs? And does it even matter? It’s just about the house, not the agent. Or is it? Here are twelve things to look for. You decide.
The best real estate agent should have the following:
- Experience – If you are their first client, then you’re going to be exposed to their learning curve. Sure, everyone has to start somewhere but don’t let yourself be someone’s very first client. You want an agent who has done this before, preferably many times.
- Happy Clients – Once you find an agent with experience, make sure that experience has been positive for that agent’s clients. If they can’t point to other happy clients they’ve worked with then you shouldn’t be working with them.
- Integrity – This one should go without saying but we’re going to mention it anyway. If your agent doesn’t have integrity, that’s a massive risk for you and your home purchase.
- Communication – The ability to professionally and effectively communicate with you and the other parties involved in a real estate transaction is crucial to that transaction being successful. The best real estate agent will represent you and your interests – make sure they can communicate in a way that gets the job done and doesn’t rub people the wrong way.
- Responsiveness – Real estate is a fast-paced industry in an even faster-paced world. If your agent is part-time, not available on the weekends or just takes too long to get back to you, then you need to find a different agent.
- Economic Knowledge – Your agent should know the basics of mortgages, interest rates and down payments along with local prices and valuations to steer you towards the best properties for your needs and budget.
- Attentiveness – Your agent must be attentive to your needs and desires when searching for a home. They need to be good listeners, understand your purchase context and ensure that details are properly handled throughout the transaction process.
- Honesty – This is another one that should go without saying. Nevertheless, we’ll mention it. You need an honest agent representing you. Anything less that that and you put yourself, your family and your home at great risk.
- Reaction Time – When writing and presenting an offer, reaction time is crucial. In the heat of negotiations, reaction time is crucial. When working through inspections, appraisals, etc. reaction time is crucial. Obviously, finding an agent who reacts quickly and competently is essential for a successful transaction.
- Niche Specialization – Some agents specialize in working with first-time home buyers, others may work luxury listings or be focused on second homes in the mountains or down the shore. Whatever your specific situation, find an agent who focuses on that market.
- Neighborhood Knowledge – A good agent knows the neighborhoods they work in very well. They should be up-to-date on local listings, valuations, closing and new housing developments. If that’s not the case, find another agent.
- Commission Concern – What comes first to your agent? Your interests or their commission. If the answer is their commission – or you suspect that’s the answer – then find someone else. You need to ensure you are seeing all the homes that fit your needs, not just those that fit the agent’s commission desires.