Sunday, July 20, 2008

Choosing the Right Real Estate Agent

Last week, a young couple asked me what I thought made a good real estate agent. They are going to be buying their first home in Mint Hill, and wanted to know what qualities I believed to be important.

Now, I have often considered which of my qualities I thought made me good at my job. I consider myself to be loyal, dedicated, experienced... But when I gave it some time, I realized that there is a lot more to what a buyer or seller will need to consider when choosing the right agent.

Here are a few things that make a good agent:

Experience: You wouldn't want to be the patient of brain surgeon who was doing his first surgery. You wouldn't want a pilot on his first flight piloting your cross-Atlantic flight. While someone has to be the first... you don't want it to be you. An agent's vast experience counts. This experience can save you time, money, and heartache. Many mistakes can be made during a real estate transaction--and an experiences agent will be able to recognize potential issues before they become your problems!

Knowledge: A good agent will know the personalities of different neighborhoods, the commute times from different parts of town, and what the school district is like. A good agent will know what other homes are available in each floor plan in the neighborhood you are interested in, and what parks or shopping are nearby. And a good agent will provide you this info before you ask for it.

Professional: Through the course of your relationship, a real estate professional will gain access to your personal information: maybe checking account balances, knowledge of your investments, debts, etc., but most assuredly what your budget and ability to buy is. This knowledge should only be trusted with someone who is a trustworthy professional.

Honesty: Honesty is something we all want from people, yet too often do not get. Your agent is working for a living, and unfortunately, sometimes an agent will stretch the truth, or out-right lie to you to get you to sign the deal. If you sense an agent is not being upfront, or in fact find that they have deceived you -- you can fire them! (see my blog about firing an agent).

References: You are entitled to ask for references. I am fortunate to get many referrals from my BNI Group, or from friends, and past clients, but if a new potential client comes to me in another way, I can always provide references. You should do your homework, and make sure others have had good experiences with an agent before you trust them with one of the most important and expensive sales or purchases of your life!

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