Finding a Good Agent

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Whether you are a first time buyer or this will be your tenth purchase, you still need to find a real estate professional to help you through every step in the process. Here are a few points to consider as you begin what may seem to be an up-hill task.

How to Conduct the Search for a Good Realtor

One way to find candidates to interview is to talk to professionals from real estate related professions and ask their opinion. If you know someone who is employed as an escrow officer, title representative, homeowners insurance salesman, or loan officer, they will be able to recommend Realtors from the area they work in.

If you talk to a loan officer, be sure it is someone who deals primarily with mortgage and ‘purchase money’ first trust deeds, instead of refinance, second trust deeds, or finance companies. Since the latter do not deal with Realtors on a regular basis, they will not know who to recommend.

You could just make phone calls to real estate offices and ask questions. Ask the manager to recommend someone or ask a Realtor who he/she would recommend from another office. This will be a little tricky because the Realtor you ask will be “giving away” a commission, but you will find out who they respect as a competitor.

A new alternative to finding a Realtor is the internet. Look for Realtors who advertise themselves, not property. That way you have a pretty good idea you are getting a “buyer’s” agent instead of a listing agent. Look to see if their web page offers something to you in the way of information or other services instead of just telling you they are “number one.” You want someone of value to represent you, not someone who is full of “puff.”

Interviewing a Good Realtor

When you interview any Realtor for the job, you want someone who will be concerned about you and will take care of your interests. You want someone who demonstrates ready knowledge of homes available for sale and does not have to call you back after they “check on the computer.” This ready knowledge demonstrates they have actually been out previewing homes and don’t just sit around waiting for the phone to ring.

You also want someone sharp enough to ask you questions as well, including your financial and debt information. By asking these questions, a good Realtor will be able to determine the proper price range you should be looking in. By asking about your family, an agent will be able to tell if what you need in a home is something available in your price range. You want a Realtor who is bold enough to talk straight with you instead of always telling you what you want to hear.

When a Realtor Asks to Meet With You

Finally, any decent agent will always ask for an appointment to meet with you, too. It is only natural, since they earn their living by commissions. However, Realtors are also supposed to act as your agent, looking out for your interests before their own. You want a Realtor who takes that responsibility very seriously. If someone seems too much like simply a salesman, then maybe you should look a little further.

When it comes to choosing the right real estate agent, “we don’t have the information that we have about other service professionals,” says Stephen Brobeck, executive director of the Consumer Federation of America, in Washington, D.C.

However, there are several things you can do to pull back the veil of uncertainty to accurately assess a real estate agent’s performance history or potential for success when it comes to your home or business, as a buyer or a seller. “Would you pick up the phone book to choose from the yellow pages a brain surgeon? Of course you wouldn’t, you would make your selection from a list of qualified professionals recommended by others who know of their reputation and success.

Shelley O’Hara, author of ‘The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Buying & Selling a Home,’ says, “When you announce your desire to buy a house, you may be surprised at the number of real estate people who want to represent you. Agents come out of the woodwork. You won’t have to worry too much about finding an agent — you do need to worry about finding a good one.”

Buying a house is the most important financial transaction most people will make in a lifetime, and the most important thing when either buying or selling a home is to select the right real estate agent for you. Funny though how many people usually go about it backwards. They read a newspaper or get one of the home magazines in the supermarkets, and they call about a home they see advertised. They should first select the real estate agent — one who will understand what they need and can navigate the system for them.

 Advertising is designed to make the brokers’ and agents’ phones ring. Typically no one buys the house they called for, but from that point on, they’re joined at the hip with a real estate agent they don’t know anything about — whether they are good, bad or indifferent or new to the business. They need to find an agent before they find house.”

You must make inquiries before you sign with an agent or broker, as commissions can be pretty substantial, and a reason real estate agents will often try to sell you anything and don’t listen to what you’re saying. They’ll tell you every house is the best house they’ve ever seen, every room is the prettiest, your kids are going to love it, and your dog will have lots of friends to bark with. They’ll tell you anything you want to hear!

So, remembering that this will be one of the most valuable possessions, it is of the utmost importance you find an agent you can trust. A real estate agent that is capable of maintaining the highest fiduciary duty standards you can entrust anyone with — trust and confidence. And they should be an agent responsible enough to disclose all the material facts of any transaction — everything they know about the property — be it good or bad. If your agent knows that the basement floods with three inches of water every time it rains, they are obligated to disclose that fact to you.”

When it comes to choosing real estate agents, we don’t always have the necessary information we need, like other service professionals,” says Stephen Brobeck, executive director of the Consumer Federation of America, in Washington, D.C. “so do your homework and ask a lot of questions.”

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