Choosing a realtor can be hard but it doesn’t have to be. Here are the top 5 things to look for when choosing a realtor.
As the market has improved over the past 7 years, a lot of new Realtors have gotten into the business. Do you really want someone using your biggest investment as their training wheels? You want an Agent who has solved problems in both a Sellers’ and a Buyers’ market, someone who has been in Real Estate for at least 8 years. A Realtor® with 8+ years in real estate can help you identify a changing market and how to negotiate in it. They’ll ensure that you look at a property to purchase with an eye toward Resale. They’ll help you know just how much updating your home needs in order to sell in your market. Experience will save you money. Dive Masters (scuba diving) have a saying,: “Beware of Shiny Equipment.” Choose Experience.
Your home shouldn’t be someone’s hobby. You want a full-time, professional business person who isn’t just going to dump your property into the multiple listing systems while they’re sitting at the pool. You want someone who is so active in the market that they can sell your property while they’re selling another one. They can garner interest in more than one property at a time using the same level of effort.
Why do these efficiencies matter to you as the Client? Busy people are more networked. And networks make the real estate world go round. A networked agent knows who is buying and who is selling. Networked Agents have their fingers on the pulse of the market. Through their network, they hear about solutions to problems before those problems arise.
One caveat to Busy is that you don’t want to work with someone who is too busy to return your calls.
Like Experience, you want someone who knows the area you live in or want to live in. While I’m not Advocating that you work with the Neighborhood Specialist**, I am encouraging you to ask any prospective agent to show you a map of their last 50 sales. Make sure they’ve done some business in your area. Especially if you’re hiring them to sell your home, you want them to know the Buyers’ agents nearby.
** Neighborhood Specialists are those Agents whose for-sale signs pepper one neighborhood. While they know all the competition in the neighborhood (and are probably representing a lot of it), they may not recognize that Buyers have a broader view of the market than just that neighborhood. Those Buyers are looking across the area to solve their housing needs. And sometimes the neighborhood doesn’t compete that way. You need to ask yourself, do you really want the person representing you to also represent the Competition?!
A phrase from my childhood in Colorado is “Big Hat, No Cattle”. Whatever you do, don’t hire someone who has a big, pretty ad in an expensive publication. Talk to your friends. Ask them for a referral to their Realtor. And as you’re getting the name and number of that person, ask your friends why they liked that Agent. Was the Agent most responsive? Was he or she creative? Did the Agent help them through a particularly rough transaction? Did the Agent educate your friends without talking down to them? Referrals are super helpful but knowing why your friends liked the person is even more important.
Your purchase or sale transaction goes to settlement or closing. But it shouldn’t be the end of your relationship with your Agent. Your Agent should be there for you when your pipes burst or your electricity goes out or your tax bill shows up with a crazy, high number. Your Realtor shouldn’t be a stranger. They need to stay in touch with you to help you learn how to manage your home. Assuming you’re working with an experienced, full-time professional, your Agent has hundreds of home ownership experiences to help answer questions about what you’re experiencing. They should send you seasonal maintenance reminders or suggestions for managing your loan (is it time re-finance?) Assuming they’re networked, they know vendors to recommend. They can help you select renovations that will add value. This person should care about your happiness. So, if they’re not helping you, you should assume they only care about the transaction and not your ongoing welfare. That’s a Realtor® you should fire. Make sure any prospective Realtor has a plan for staying in touch with you.
Proudly Serving Washington DC and Northern VA since 2003, Chris Fischer of McEnearney Associates and Fischer Real Estate has negotiated and closed over $150 million in residential sales serving over 250 individuals and families in her 14 years as a Realtor. Recognized by Washingtonian and Northern Virginia magazines as a Top Realtor in their 2015, 2016 and 2017 publications, Chris and her team work 100% by referral. Chris lives on Capitol Hill in DC and works out of the Old Town Alexandria office of McEnearney Associates with her two support team members, Ashley and Lauryn. Together they help you Own Your Home Better.