Let’s be honest. Most of you put more time and energy into finding a hairdresser than you do into choosing your Realtor. Think I’m kidding? I’m not!
How many of you (especially ladies) would dare go to the first available “up” person at a hair salon you just wandered into? Not many! Yet, time and again we meet people who choose their Realtors exactly that way.
When you are buying or selling your house, you are making a major life decision. It’s a decision that affects your heart, your life, and your wallet.
Your home is an expression of who you are as a person. It’s where you spend time with and entertain friends and family and re-charge after a stressful day. It’s where you raise kids and put down roots in a community. Your home dictates how you live your life through your commute, your access to food and entertainment, your relationships with neighbors, and your budget. But, it’s also likely the biggest financial investment you make in your life. Home ownership is how you can grow your investment portfolio or pass on wealth to other generations.
So, both financially and emotionally, buying or selling your home a “big deal.” That’s why it is so important to choose the right person to guide you through the process.
You want someone that understands the nuances of both the emotions and the numbers.
It’s a tall order, but here are our top 10 tips for choosing the right real estate professional.
RELATIONSHIP WITH YOU.
Whether you are buying or selling, it’s important to “click” with who you are working with. You will be spending a lot of time together for a few months, so be sure it is someone you will enjoy being around and someone whose opinions you will trust.
RELATIONSHIP WITH OTHER AGENTS.
You want to make sure your Realtor is someone who is respected by other agents in the community and works with others easily. Reputation is everything in the real estate business and all parties need to know they will be treated fairly. Therefore, it is important for your agent to know the agents that frequently do business where you are buying or selling. It will lead to an easier transaction for you. There is a lot of agent networking done behind the scenes, especially before listings go on the active market, so it’s important your agent has their finger on the local pulse.
This goes without saying, but in addition to knowing (and getting along with) the other agents in the area, they need to actually know the neighborhoods! If you’re selling, that means knowing what else has sold, what’s on the market now (that you will be competing with), and what the lifestyle is like in the area so they can sell it to buyers. If you’re buying, they need to know the same things. This is so important that we give neighborhood orientation tours to our clients if they are moving from out of the area or from one part of the DC area to another. You will want an agent who not only can tell you when a house is a good choice, but where you can get the best pizza delivery or buy a bottle of wine after 8pm!
EXPERIENCE, NEGOTIATION & PROBLEM SOLVING SKILLS.
Whether you are buying or selling, or both, you need an agent who has been around the block and has seen all of the problems that can come up in the course of a transaction. The agent’s job does not end once you are under contract. Often, the biggest problems can occur between contract and closing. You are dealing with thirty page, legally binding contracts; it’s essential your agent knows his or her way around the contract. Being a problem solver is probably the most important attribute an agent can bring to the table.
Make sure you find an agent that communicates in the style that you do. Do you prefer phone calls, texts, email or in-person discussions? Make sure your agent can communicate with you in the way(s) you prefer.
Also, be sure your agent works when you don’t! This is especially important for buyers. Pinpoint what days and times are typically best for you to tour properties and make sure your agent is available during those times. Some agents work part-time or only during regular working hours. Make sure your schedules will align. If you’re selling, be sure the agent or someone on their team is answering the phone and emails in case someone calls about your home. If your agent has a team, they can more than likely answer questions very quickly for eager buyer callers wanting to know how many bedrooms are upstairs! Likewise, a team approach on the buying side means you will typically have many more windows for when you can view homes.
MANAGING THE BUYING AND SELLING PROCESS AT THE SAME TIME.
Buying and selling homes at the same time? Then it is IMPERATIVE that you pick an experienced agent who knows how to manage the process. Should you buy first and sell your house quickly? Should you sell first and then rush to find a property? There are many ways to approach this process that won’t make you feel like your hair is on fire! Find an agent who can walk you through the different options.
If you’re buying or selling in the DC metro area with the other end of your transaction out of the area, pick an agent who has great referral connections in other markets. You want both of your agents on the same page so your contracts, dates, and deadlines work together seamlessly. See if your agent can connect you with another great agent in your other market. We have personal friendships with the very top agents from across the US & Canada that we often refer to – and that’s something you want. If an agent doesn’t have a personal connection, see if she has a referral network. These networks mean even when a Realtor doesn’t have a personal relationship, she does have a partnership with the top brokerages around the globe that have been properly vetted. Then she will interview those agents to find you the right match. When your Realtors can work together and they’re on the same page, everyone wins.
PRICING, PREPARING & PRESENTING YOUR HOME (IF YOU’RE SELLING).
Sellers, it’s crucial for your agent to know how to price, prepare, and present your home to the market properly. Preparing your home is almost as important as the pricing! It is critical to getting maximum exposure. Speaking of which – your Realtor MUST have a marketing plan. That plan should include a fantastic website with content and other listings that people actually visit. Website traffic increases the number of people who will see your house online. They should use a mix of traditional and digital marketing (if they are not using paid social media advertising, rule them out immediately), plus have a dogged personal outreach program to other Realtors, their buyer database (so it’s also important to ask if they actually have one), as well as to public relations professionals to get your home placed in the right publications.
OUTLOOK ON THEIR BUSINESS & THEIR CLIENTS.
This last one is just a personal thought and probably not one you will find on many similar “how to” lists. Does your agent constantly strive to improve their service to their clients? Do they operate like a true business or more like a part-time job out of their house and their car? Is their focus on creating lifelong clients or on getting the next deal done? Is it about the client or the transaction?
Here at The Goodhart Group, we take our jobs very personally, because it’s personal to you.
We’re here after the deal goes to settlement for recommendations for anything under the sun. We also help clients and any of their friends and family with any real estate needs for the rest of their lives. We want to be your trusted Realtors for life, and we take that role seriously. Because when you love where you live, we’ve done our jobs.
If you would like to chat with us about buying or selling a home, or about any real estate needs or goals you may have, please don’t hesitate to reach out below. We’re always here to help!
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