Here we go again…yet another article on choosing a Realtor (or real estate agent). Sorry, I just can’t resist. I see so many people choosing agents based on: who they party with, who their neighbor is, who their cousin is, who promises the highest price, who charges the lowest commission, etc etc. In other words, every WRONG reason! Then they ask me why their house hasn’t sold, or why their agent keeps wanting to lower the price!
So being the naturally helpful fella that I am, here are what I consider to be the important points to look for when choosing an agent:
(1) Let’s start with Realtor vs real estate agent. Yes, there is a difference. A Realtor is an agent who is a member of the National Association of Realtors. All agents must abide by the real estate laws in their state but Realtors must also adhere to a very strict code of ethics. And yes, I’m a Realtor.
(2) Will they spend THEIR money to sell YOUR house? And no, their office normally isn’t the one paying for ads, signs, postcards, etc. Will they pay a fairly significant amount to hire a professional real estate photographer? I’ll guarantee that most won’t. All you have to do is look through pictures in the MLS to see for yourself. And yes, I use a pro real estate photographer who is in demand nationally as well as internationally. And yes, I pay to send out “Just Listed” and “Just Sold” cards, as well as for ads, signs, and everything else.
(3) Do they know the area and does their company dominate the area market? When you hire an agent who mainly works in another area, they typically don’t have buyers for your area, do not know home values, do not know marketing times, or how/where to advertise your property. If their company has nearly zero market share in your area, don’t count on your home being a fast seller. Always choose a leading company in your area – they have buyers for your area. Always choose an agent who works in your area and knows the values. Ask what your potential agent does for fun. If they say golf, boating, camping….give ’em the ole boot. Ask me what I do for fun: I check MLS each and every day to see what new listings have come on the market, which listings have price reductions or have been cancelled or expired. I tour homes for sale. I know, it’s weird, but I love it. And yes, I know my area because of it (Prior Lake, MN).
(4) Will they take the time and do the work to ACCURATELY determine the listing price for your home? Or do they ask you what you want (or need) to get and then go along with anything you say just to get the listing? I spend several hours reviewing each and every home similar to yours that has sold in the last six months, look at the competing active listings, look at every cancelled and expired listing, look at the average time on market, look at your timeline regarding your sale, etc, etc.
(5) Do they offer you a low commission to get your listing? I don’t. When the only way an agent can compete with me is to offer you a lower commission, that indicates that they can’t compete with the services I offer or with my ability to sell your home. If I spend the money and perform the additional work to sell your house faster and likely for a higher price, even with a higher commission, you’re likely to NET more money from the sale. Isn’t that what you really want in the first place?
(6) Will they go above and beyond what it takes to sell your home? For example, yesterday I went to a vacant home that I have listed and washed the glass in the front storm door. It’s important that the very first thing that a buyer sees looks nice. Would your potential agent do that? Some (the good ones) might, most won’t.
(7) Beware of “specialists”. For example, there are absolutely ZERO requirements for someone to call themselves a “lakeshore specialist”. Some agents really do know their stuff – some don’t. The only real ‘specialists’ have designations and/or certifications to indicate that they are. Am I a specialist? Well, I don’t profess to be. But I do tend to enjoy working with lakeshore and golf course homes. And I probably know more about either one than most people (insert shameless bragging here). I also have several designations/certifications from the National Association of Realtors….but I don’t claim to be a “specialist”.
So I suppose the bottom line is, if you’re anywhere near Minneapolis, MN and especially Prior Lake, MN why oh why would you ever hire anyone other than ME??? Actually I’m just kidding – sorta. There are good, professional agents out there – you just have to look for them. Hopefully now you have a better idea of what to look for.
Until next time, happy home selling or buying. And as usual, yell if you have any questions.