Hiring A Realtor

Hiring a REALTOR®

The biggest mistake buyers make is to start shopping for a home before they select a REALTOR®. Rather than interviewing candidates and making an informed choice, they drive off with an agent who happens to be holding an open house in their preferred neighborhood. Or they pick a REALTOR® whose name is on a for-sale sign or who answers the brokerage’s telephone when they call about a home advertised in the newspaper.

A top agent will rarely hold open houses personally, nor will a top agent sit around the office answering cold telephone calls. Productive agents are busy with repeat and referral business from former clients and personal marketing efforts.

There are exceptions, of course. Some solid agents enjoy holding open houses. And some enthusiastic newly licensed agents use floor time to build a client base. It’s okay to hire a REALTOR® who does these activities, but you shouldn’t hire someone based primarily on the chance encounter of one telephone call, one open house or one for-sale sign.

Sellers make similar mistakes. Some select a REALTOR® because he or she sold a few other homes in the neighborhood or sent out seed packages last spring. While these "neighborhood names" may be worth considering, sales and seed packages shouldn’t be the sole factors in hiring a REALTOR®.

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Another common mistake among sellers is to hire a REALTOR® because he or she states a high opinion of their home’s value. An agent may suggest an inflated price to flatter the seller and capture the listing, only to have the agent argue for a price reduction after a few weeks, or an agent may suggest a low price so they can sell the home quickly or attract multiple offers. Rather than being a factor in selecting a REALTOR®, pricing decisions should be made in consultation with the agent, based on market trends, recent sales of comparable homes and how soon you want to move.

The right way to hire a REALTOR® is to know your own needs and find someone who will meet those needs. Talk to several agents and take notes. Start by getting some background information about the agent. Ask: How long have you been in the real estate business? What special training or qualifications do you have? Do you have an assistant? What are your strengthens in negotiating? How many buyers/sellers did you work with in the last year? How many of those people bought/sold a home through you? What is your view of market conditions? Then find out whether the agent is experienced with low-downpayment financing, condominium associations, lease-options, multiple offers, high-end homes, disclosure concerns or other special needs you may have. Finally, get a list of references from the REALTOR®.

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