“HOW TO CHOOSE A REAL ESTATE AGENT?” I remember many years ago when me and my wife were shopping for our first house. We did not know where to start, and we had no idea how the process works. So a good friend of ours recommended a real estate agent to help us find a house. The agent is one of the top producing real estate agents in the Atlanta area. I still remember on the first week, she showed us a few different properties and by the second or third week, we had a house under contract. A little over a month from when we started looking, we bought a house. After buying the house, I was still unclear on the process, and I had no idea if we had bought a house that we actually liked. All I knew is that every house she showed us was a ‘great’ house, and we felt pressured into making offer on ALL the houses we looked at, without ever discussing if those were truly the houses that we were looking for. In fact, I do not even remember having any conversation with her about what our criteria is and what would be considered the ideal house for us. Looking back, I blame ourselves for not doing our research when we looked for a real estate agent to represent us. So, how do you choose a good real estate agent? Well, below are a few suggestions and tips you can use when choosing a good real estate agent.
Knowledge: Whether you are buying or selling a house, it is very important to find a real estate agent who is actually knowledgeable in real estate. For example, if you have a smooth talking agent who can’t tell the difference between polybutylene pipes and PVC pipes, then you have a problem. A knowledgeable real estate agent does not necessary have to be a top producing agent. What’s important is for him or her to be able to identify obvious things associated to a property and provide you with a neutral opinion of what it means to you. A mistake due to lack of information, or misinformation could mean a big financial headache down the road. Knowledge can be further divided into market knowledge, site knowledge and real estate contract knowledge. A good real estate agent shall be well versed in those areas of knowledge and be able to provide constructive and meaningful advice to their Clients. It is impossible for your real estate agent to tell you everything about every house or identify everything about a house, so please be sure your expectation in regards to this is reasonable.
Responsiveness: Always make sure the real estate agents you hired are reasonably responsive. If the real estate agent is always busy or do not return your calls or messages in a timely manner, it can only mean more problems and stress down the road. A good real estate agent should be able to juggle his or her time and get back to the Clients within a reasonable time frame, especially when it comes to decisions such as making offer on a house. Delayed response may lead to missed opportunities or last minute communication mishap. A rushed offer due to communication delay may have omitted some key items specific to the house which can be avoided if all parties have more time to discuss about it prior. Many years ago, when we were selling our house, we had to go through the stressful process of dealing with a non-responsive real estate agent, whom we had hired without doing much of a research. Gosh, that was a nightmare. It would take days for him to return my phone calls. Every time I called him, it would go straight to his voicemail. To make matters worse, offers from potential Buyers would sit in his emails for days before he forwarded them to me. I felt like I had to deal with a terrible messenger instead of an actual real estate agent. The stress I had to endure was totally unnecessary. Therefore, please make sure responsiveness is on your list when you shop for a real estate agent. It is also important to note that responsiveness goes both ways between the real estate agent and the Client.
Looking out for your interest: A good real estate agent will always look out for the best interest of their Clients. You should never feel like you are being pressured into making offers on every property that you checked out. Obviously, the sooner you buy (or sell), the better it is for the real estate agent because they will move on to the next Client. However, it will not be to your best interest if the feedback you received from your real estate agent is always positive for every house that you checked out. Real estate agents who are focused on the sale instead of you will always give very generic feedbacks, such as ‘It’s a nice house that fits you and your family’ or ‘I think this is the house you are looking for’. Make sure you have a real estate agent that tells what ‘they actually think about the house’ instead of ‘how they can sell you the house’. Also, in looking out for your best interest, make sure the real estate agent understands your goal. For example, if you are buying a house for yourself, the goal is very different from if you are buying an investment property. So in this example, a good real estate agent will get you the best cash flowing house so you can rent out with no problem and enjoy the cash flow on your investment property, instead of the best looking house that does not meet your cash flow needs.
So what happens if you already have a real estate agent that you do not think is good? Well, just simply ask for the termination and you are good to hire a different one that suits you. Make sure you read and understand the termination agreement.
My name is Ken and my wife is Bee. I’m a Civil Engineer turned real estate investor and my wife is an IT Professional turned Realtor. Feel free to drop us your real estate questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
DISCLAIMER: This article is written based on our personal and professional opinions. We are not certified financial advisors and are not qualified to provide financial or legal advice.