Finding the right real estate agent

Randall C. Becker
Randall C. Becker
Published on December 30, 2020

Like the girl and her three bears in the 19th-century fairy tale, some real estate agents are too hot or too big, some too cold or too small, but there is one who is “just right” for you.

Your job, if you hope to be successful in your home purchase or sale, is to find that agent.

Now, determining the right “fit” with a real estate agent is highly subjective. What works for you may not work for your next-door neighbor.

Sure, asking friends, family and colleagues for a referral to an agent they’ve worked with successfully is still a good idea, but, again, their agent may not be the one for you.

Which is why you should interview more than one real estate agent

A California Association of Realtors Home Buyer’s Survey finds that 64 percent of homebuyers didn’t search for real estate agent rankings.

Shocking, isn’t it?

When you consider that big chunk of money you are about to invest or earn, wouldn’t it be wise to learn about others’ experiences with the agent you’re considering?

The truth is, too many real estate consumers spend more time reading amazon.com reviews for portable chargers for their smartphones than they do checking real estate agent reviews.

Of course one shouldn’t rely solely on online reviews. Too many agents game the system and too many of those review sites are happy to award five stars as long as the agent pays them what they’re asking.

Checking reviews is just one of the tasks involved in finding the right real estate agent.

Querying folks you know, performing a Google or Bing search of the agent’s name and reading agent reviews online are all important steps.

What is critical, however, is that you give yourself a “pool” of agents to narrow down until you’ve found the perfect fit. This means interviewing more than one real estate agent to help you buy a home.

Pre-interview

Before you call even one agent, get clear on the type of person you want to work with. Think about personality, experience and professionalism because they all matter when you’ll be working so closely with a person to represent you during this life-altering purchase or sale.

The agent’s personality may not seem important, but consider that you’ll be spending a lot of time, possibly in the same car, with the agent.

Have you ever been forced into the same room with someone who you couldn’t wait to get away from? For whatever reason – a dour Dave or chatty Caroline, for instance – even a few minutes spent with them are far too many.

Once you’re clear on a good personality fit for your needs, consider if you want a solo agent or one who has a team. There are advantages and disadvantages to both.

Ask yourself how much time is too long to wait for the agent to return your emails, texts and phone calls.

Speaking of which, what is your preferred method of contact? There is a sad chart, published by a Realtor association, that illustrates the preferred versus actual contact method of homebuyers.

Agents actually did well using email to contact the nearly-half of buyers who prefer that method.

Only 17 percent of buyers surveyed wanted their agent to contact them by telephone, yet 53 percent of agents chose this method to keep in touch with the client – completely disregarding their clients’ wishes.

The statistics are nearly as bad for the 30 percent of clients who chose to be contacted by text message – only 6 percent of agents indulged them.

Responding quickly to your communications is an asset for an agent, but so is using your preferred method of contact. Consider asking agents during the interview process how they typically communicate with their home-buying clients.

The interview

Choosing which agents to interview is a snap when you have a list of questions to ask during your agent interviews.

Then, test each agent.

For instance, determine how long you are willing to wait for a call-back (or email or text) from an agent. Consider this scenario: It’s a fiery real estate market where homes in your price range are being snatched up just about as soon as they hit the market.

You see your dream home online and call your agent to get an appointment to view the home. Time is of the essence.

How long are you willing to wait for a response?

So long that you lose the home? Think in terms of minutes, not hours.

Call, text or email each agent you are considering hiring.  How quickly does she or he respond? If an agent takes a long time to respond when courting you, imagine how much worse it will be once you are already committed.

Your real estate agent will be at the helm of the purchase or sale of a huge investment. Keep your vetting standards high, strategically sift the wheat from the chaff and you’ll find the perfect one.

We hope to be among those you interview. Feel free to reach out to us.

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