A Comprehensive Guide to Selecting the Best Real Estate Agent
by Bill and Lia McNally, real estate sales reps., Halton Hills, Ontario.
Once you have decided to buy or sell your home, your first step is hiring a realtor. The choice you make will have a huge impact on your life and what is probably your largest investment. It could be the difference between sailing smoothly through the process and lying awake at night, pulling out your hair in frustration!
Realtors are not all the same. Even Realtors working within the same company can vary as much as night and day. This article will help you understand the differences and teach you which questions to ask so you can confidently select an outstanding Realtor.
First: a Little Homework.
Have a look through the local newspaper's real estate section.
Take notice of the ads. Who seems to be busy no matter how slow the market is? How about the ads themselves? Which ones stand out? The colour ads or the black and white ads? Read through the home descriptions. Would you like a similar write up for your home or do you think the agent could improve?
Ads you would like to see your home featured in:
Talk to people who have recently used a Realtor's services. To make sure you receive accurate information be sure you are speaking with the client themselves, not just a friend of the client. Ask about how they were treated during the process. Ask how easy it was to get a hold of their agent. How did the negotiations go? Did the agent look after their best interests? See about after sales service. Did the agent go the extra mile or abandon the client after the sold sign went up? Would the client use the agent again? Ask for the good and the bad.
Agents recommended by past clients:
Do your online research. This step is absolutely crucial. Roughly 80% of buyers start searching for homes online and you have to make sure they will be able to find your home quickly and easily. Grab the agents' names off the lists you have completed above and visit each of their websites. Is the website easy to navigate? Do you have to input personal information in order to navigate the website freely? This is a huge turn off for web surfers. Read the agent's bio. Are you impressed? Check out the listings on the website. How are the photos of the listing? Professional looking or dark and dingy? How about virtual tours? Are they easy to use or frustrating? You should also Google the prospective agent's name. Does the agent appear on the first page? If not, their website may be poorly ranked with not enough traffic to drive buyers to your listing.
Realtors with Good websites:
Next: The Listing Presentations
Now that your research is complete, you should have a good idea of which agents you would like to meet. Inviting them in for a listing presentation is the next step. A typical listing presentation involves a tour of your home, discussing your needs and desires, finding out whether the agent is right for you, and talking about a realistic listing price.
Questions for the listing presentation:
Does the agent listen to you? A good relationship requires listening.
How many homes has the agent sold in the past twelve months? Only a handful of homes sold can signify a number of problems: perhaps the agent isn't good at attracting clients and as such, will have a hard time attracting buyers to your home. Maybe the agent only works part time which can indicate a lack of commitment or success. Not selling enough homes usually means lack of experience. Each and every transactions comes with it's own set of challenges and is a unique learning experience. An agent who has closed many deals is simply better equipped to handle these challenges in a stress-free manner.
An important point to note: Having a team can inflate sales numbers significantly. Be sure to divide the number of sales between the number of active sales people on the team to arrive at a correct figure. Do not include administrative staff in your calculations.
Do you like your agent? It sounds obvious, but sometimes clients are so impressed by the agent's numbers that they fail to take into account how important it is that they actually like their agent. You will be spending a lot of time with this person and relying on them for information. Your experience will be so much better if you "click" with the person you hire. Don't forget- if you find the agent abrasive, unfriendly or rude, chances are potential buyers and other agents will too. This could become an issue during negotiations and affect your bottom line.
Who will you be dealing with? In most cases a team leader is the individual with talent. If you hire an agent, it stands to reason that you should expect that particular agent to represent you during negotiations. You could be in for disappointment if you hire an agent for his/her particular skills and wind up dealing with a hired assistant.
What happens if you're not happy with the agent after you're hired him/her? If your agent is truly committed to providing you with excellent service they should not hesitate to release you from your contract should they fail to deliver. Beware of any agent who seems uncomfortable with this question.
The Delicate Issue of Pricing your Home.
You should, under no circumstances, base your decision to hire or not hire a particular salesperson solely because they promise to sell your home for the most money. In fact if the price they recommend is out of whack with other estimates of value, red flags should go up. Some unscrupulous agents will lie to you about your home's value to trick you into listing with them. This can result in losing money.
You need to bring your common sense with you to the listing presentation and ask to see comparable listings. Comparing your home to recently sold homes that are very close in size, condition, and features is the most accurate way to arrive at a listing price, taking the current market conditions into account as well. A simple guess is not good enough. Be objective when comparing your home to other homes and remember that emotional attachment can cloud your judgement. Don't let your emotions override your common sense.
Commission varies from salesperson to salesperson and should not be the most important factor when selecting an agent. Successful agents often demand higher commission rates, but when all is said and done, you may very well come out ahead regardless. Successful agents are usually seasoned negotiators who are skilled at getting you the most out of your deal, both in terms of price and protecting your best interests- current and future.
Be wary of overly low commission rates. They could indicate lack of experience, desperation, or lack of services (advertising is very expensive.) If your agent can't convince you why they are worth what they charge, how are they going to convince buyers to spend the most possible money on your home?
Now that you've meet some great agents and asked all the right questions, you should have a good idea of who you would like to work with. Inform your selected agent and relax knowing that you've just hired the right realtor for the job!
About the authors:
Bill and Lia McNally are top performing sales people at their real estate company Johnson Associates. They have sold over 100 homes after just two and a half years in the business. Their success is due to their strong work ethic, ability to make seemingly impossible transactions come together and because past clients refer Bill and Lia to their friends and family.
If you would like FREE, no obligation real estate advice, or are interested in buying or selling your home in Halton Hills and the surrounding areas, please call Bill McNally at (905) 877-5165 today. Never any pressure, just honest answers and advice.