Sometimes the idea of finding a realtor can create as much anxiety as dealing with a car salesmen or looking for a hairdresser that will actually give you a cut you love. At least you can walk away from the car salesman if you don’t like them and a bad hair cut will grow out. But the wrong real estate agent can have serious consequences that could result in a lost deal, or finding yourself in a situation that will cost you money or long-term implications.
We would all like to think that every agent out there would go the extra mile to provide you with the best experience – after all this is your HOME. It affects your life and your family. The last thing you want is to find out that your home is being shown without your knowledge, or you don’t hear from a realtor for days or weeks on end and the home you wanted is no longer available. You want someone who cares about your long-term satisfaction and proves this with their service.
A great real estate agent can take what is already a stressful time and turn it into a much better experience with support, confidence, understanding and compassionate help. A real estate agent should be someone who is dedicated to you and your family.
Our goal is to help you avoid your own horror story, and while no realtor is perfect, there are definitely wise steps that can be taken to create a good partnership.
1. Educate Yourself.
You wouldn’t go to a car lot without doing some research on what car you need and what their prices are. Likewise, it’s very important to educate yourself about the following items. Your agent is the expert but you should be informed.
- Areas of town where you would like to live.
- Type of home you need.
- What is currently on the market.
- Average home prices
- Reputation of the different builders in town if you plan to build. Your agent is the expert but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be informed (related reading: Tips for Choosing a Builder).
2. Meet Face to Face (or at least talk over the phone).
Make an appointment to interview an agent to get a better idea of their personality, what their expertise is, if they listen well, and if they genuinely care. Trust your instincts: your gut will tell you if you can work well with a particular agent.
3. Give Yourself Time to Decide.
Ask questions and interact with a potential agent over a few days or weeks before making a choice. This is a very important decision. Do they respond to you in a timely manner? Do they communicate well? Are they professional or is this a “hobby”? Are they overbooked and too busy to give you the time you need?
4. They Should be Proactive.
Look for an agent who understands all the facts about your situation. You don’t want to take the time to search for a home, find one you love, and get your heart set on it, only to find out that there is some restriction that doesn’t allow you to buy. Experiences like that can be avoided upfront when the agent understands everything about you, your time frame, your budget, what type of mortgage you will have, etc. We knew of a family who found the place they wanted after weeks of searching and wanted to put in an offer – only to find out that the town home they wanted didn’t qualify for a FHA loan. Proper preparation from the realtor would have saved all of them hours of searching and the disappointment felt by the family.
5. A Good Communicator.
Discuss your expectations and preferences for communication: whether it is through text, a phone call, email, or to meet in person. Be upfront about what you expect and ask them what their expectations are. Another story we heard was of a widow who was selling the only home she ever knew for nearly 50 years. It was a difficult decision and made worse by a realtor who rarely called and followed up. Appointments were canceled but the agent would fail to let her know and she would wait all day. Offers were strung out and she felt left in the dark. The agent suddenly sprang into action and finished the deal only after the client called and said she wanted to pull out of the contract. This is unacceptable! Communication is key to a smooth process.
6. Frankness and Openness.
Are they willing to have the hard conversations with you when necessary while keeping a positive attitude?
7. They Tell You What Questions to Ask
Do you know the questions to ask or are you wondering which steps to take next? A good realtor will help you ask the questions and educate you throughout your process so that you can make informed decisions. They are the experts and should be asking you questions to find out as much as possible about you and what you need to know. They also won’t disappear before the ink is dry on your contract. You want an agent who appreciates you and your business.
8. Customer References and Testimonials
A good realtor should be willing to have you speak to past clients. Find out how their experiences were- good and bad.
9. Do They Have A Specialty?
Many agents have specific areas of expertise. For example: If you are looking for a condo that you can live in for a few years and then turn into rental property, make sure you find a realtor who has expertise in rentals in that area. They can give you sound advice. Maybe you need a realtor who has experience in finding homes for families with special needs or you are in the military. Think about all aspects of your family situation and discuss it with your prospective agent.
Remember a real estate agent is applying for a job to represent YOU. It is worth the time to find an agent who is a good fit and who will be willing to guide you and ask the hard questions. In the end it will be worth the extra effort you put forth up front. After all it’s your retreat, your memories, your life – not just a house.
We would be honored to have the opportunity to interview with you if you are looking for a real estate agent for either buying or selling in the Colorado Springs area. Email email@example.com or call 719-321-0800.
Related Reading: Home Seller Frequently Asked Questions