Meeting a new real estate agent occasionally feels like a first date as you trade a bottle of cabernet for talks of comps and closing costs. But with so many real estate agents available, it can be hard to find a dream match for your dream home.
Fortunately, there are ways to separate the great agents from the lemons. One way to do this is to ask your prospective real estate agent the right questions, including the following:
Do you have extensive knowledge of the local market?
If you’re buying a home in Boulder, you don’t want a real estate agent with expertise in the Hollywood Hills. While every licensed Colorado real estate agent can legally serve anywhere in the state, the reality is that selling a custom home in North Boulder requires a different skill set than selling a townhome in Colorado Springs. In order to avoid overpaying, your real estate agent must know the local market like the back of their hand – and have a thorough understanding of the micro-markets at play. In a small dynamic market like Boulder, one neighborhood block can shift you into an entirely different micro-market – and having a savvy experienced real estate agent to help guide and interpret those market conditions is key. They should be able to offer insight on sales, schools, the trends, and the deadends. Whether you’re looking for a primary residence, an investment property, a vacation home, or a fixer-upper, they should bring plenty of possibilities to the table.
Will you listen to what the client wants?
If you are seeking someone to help you buy your next home, keep in mind that your real estate agent is helping you find a house; they’re not shopping for themselves. It doesn’t matter if they don’t like homes with open floor plans or tend to shun anything without authentic hardwood floors; it only matters what you like. While your real estate agent can (and should!) guide you on foundation issues or HOA regulations, style and taste are your departments. You’re the one buying so your opinion should dictate the search. If you are navigating the sale of a property, similarly your real estate agent is there as your market expert and to help you attract the largest pool of prospective Buyers for your listing. They may make recommendations around presentation (such as paint or staging) to facilitate that, but ultimately they owe you their obedience and fidelity – and should be open to hearing your goals and objectives for your home sale, and listening to you each step of the way.
Are you enthusiastic?
Your real estate agent doesn’t need to tear up over an infinity pool or get tongue-tied when describing a twelve-person theater, but they should be excited about helping you find exactly what you’re after – whether that’s your new home, or helping you find the best buyer for your property. An enthusiastic and dedicated real estate agent will work harder, contact you more frequently, and ultimately help you succeed in a dynamic market over one who isn’t all that thrilled with their career choice. If looking for a home feels like a DIY project, show them the door.
How often do you communicate with clients?
Buying a house is very much an ‘early bird gets the worm’ game, particularly in areas that are competitive with low housing inventory available. This means good real estate agents must know when homes become available as soon as they hit the market (or before!). Moreover, they must communicate this information to you on a regular basis, frequenting your email nearly daily. If they aren’t proactive — if they’re hard to get a hold of, hard to pin down for showings, or too busy with other clients – you might risk missing out on your happily ever after. On the flip side of things, selling a home is usually the sale of someone’s largest financial asset – and also marks severing ties with a place of significant emotional impact, Even setting aside the emotional component of selling a home, it can be an incredibly stressful undertaking if you are left in the dark by your broker. A competent and savvy listing agent will communicate regularly with you, explaining what is coming up and what your obligations are, as well as smoothing the way and helping you to meet those obligations. Consistent and clear communication from your agent can alleviate a lot of natural anxiety for you when you are selling your home. Bottom line, if your agent is unwilling to keep open the door of communication every step of the way – they are not the one for you!
What is your track record?
Many real estate agents – good bad and other- are absolutely phenomenal at talking the talk and looking the part. What you need to find out is whether they can walk the walk. Ask about their track record of success – whether that’s helping their Buyer’s win against competing offers, or helping their Seller’s net higher on the sale of their home – an experienced real estate agent will be ready, willing and able to show you what they are capable of. How long have they been licensed in your state? What was their sales record last year? Have they been recognized for their sales or client service performance? How do they market a listing? Success leaves clues – and it is ok to review them. Read their reviews, google search them, scope out their website and look to see if they are featured in any news articles or social media platforms. Because real estate agents are state and national licensees, you can also check fairly easily to see that they have not been in violation of their fiduciary duties through the Department of Regulatory Agencies. Do your due diligence to hire the expert you deserve on the front end, and you will save yourself endless frustration on the back end.
Will you go the extra mile?
Real estate agents have to be determined, creative and relentless, especially when each house on the market is fielding multiple competing offers. Sometimes, sellers go with the highest offer; other times, they go with the most tenacious agent. Ideally, your real estate agent will have networking connections as well as an established reputation in your market, which can benefit you when sellers are torn between two comparable buyers. You need the agent that will use their resources and go above and beyond to advocate for you with the parties on the other side. From a seller’s perspective, you want to ensure you have the real estate agent who is also committed to curating your listing to present it in the best possible light. If they are content with a couple quick photos and a sign in the yard, they are doing the bare minimum – and you deserve more from your real estate partner. Find the broker who is prepared to use every tool and resource at their disposal to cast the widest net and attract the largest pool of qualified motivated buyers for your home.
Buying or selling a home is stressful, even when the market isn’t as red-hot as it is right now. A good real estate agent can make a big difference. Use these tips to determine whether your agent is right for you. If not, ask around; these days, everyone knows someone in the business.
By Jennifer Egbert. Jennifer is an award-winning, licensed Realtor® at milehimodern real estate in Boulder with more than eleven years of experience. She specializes in Luxury neighborhoods, home builders and current market conditions. Visit jenniferegbert.com, e-mail [email protected] or call 303.619.3373.