After asking yourself, “are you are ready” to buy a home, step number one on The Home Buyer’s Road Map is to hire an agent. Finding a good real estate agent/broker is essential to enjoying a successful real estate transaction. The question is, how do you find a good real estate agent? The best agent for you doesn’t necessarily work at the largest brokerage, close the most transactions or make the most money. The best agent for you is an experienced professional who will:
♥ Listen to you
♥ Ethically conduct themselves
♥ Knows your market
Beyond these seemingly obvious fundamentals, there are a few more attributes your next realtor should have. When a real estate agent or broker is acting in an agency capacity for a buyer or seller client in a transaction, they have certain legally mandated duties that are called fiduciary duties.
“A fiduciary duty is the highest standard of care. The person who has a fiduciary duty is called the fiduciary, and the person to whom he owes the duty, is typically referred to as the principal or the beneficiary. If an individual breaches the fiduciary duties, he or she would need to account for the ill-gotten profit.”
The position of the agent or broker is a fiduciary capacity, acting in the best interests of the client. The specific fiduciary duties in a real estate transaction are as follows:
- Loyalty – a broker/salesperson will act only in the client’s best interest.
- Obedience – a broker/salesperson will carry out all the client’s lawful instructions.
- Disclosure – a broker/salesperson will disclose to the client all material facts of which broker/salesperson has knowledge which might reasonably affect the client’s use and enjoyment of the property.
- Confidentiality – a broker/salesperson will keep the client’s confidences unless required by law to disclose specific information (such as disclosure of material facts to buyers).
- Reasonable Care – a broker/salesperson will use reasonable care in performing duties as an agent.
- Accounting – a broker/salesperson will account to client for all client’s money and property received as agent.
What value to realtors provide? What do they actually do?
With so much information readily available online, people sometimes ask me, “Why should we hire a real estate agent?” They wonder, and rightfully so, if they couldn’t buy or sell a home through the Internet or regular marketing and advertising channels without representation, without a real estate agent.
Consumers hate agents because the business seems easy on the surface. To sell a home, some people think it means just stick a sign in the yard and post photographs online. Those two actions might bring a buyer but they don’t necessarily sell a home. A lot can happen between signing the contract and closing. A smart agent knows how to negotiate and how to handle problems that can pop up such as appraisal issues, home inspection repairs, buyer’s lender requirements, price guidance, buying and selling concurrently, contingency releases and more. In fact, there is quite a bit that realtors do. Here is a list of some of the common responsibilities:
- Schedule showings
- Schedule listing appointments
- Maintain required continuing education
- Deliver earnest money on time
- Coordinate property inspections
- Keep up with mortgage company progress
- Verify buyer’s new homeowner’s insurance
- Coordinate home warranty company
- Negotiate counteroffers
- Schedule closings
- Attend closings
- Get all disclosures delivered & signed
- Keep the transaction on track
- Provide educational materials to consumers
- Keep your blog active
- Maintain active social media profiles
- Answer the phone all day & night
- Return missed phone calls
- Return emails asap
- Follow up with website inquiries
- Keep up with changing laws
- Run comparables for buyers & sellers
- Determine accurate pricing
- Help stage & present properties
- Meet the appraiser at property
- Meet the inspector(s) at property
- Show hundreds-thousands of homes each year
- Get signed contract to title company
- Negotiate repairs
- Keep clients updated with each step
- Provide comps for the appraiser
- Coordinate closing
- Make sure there is a clear title
- Explain the contract to clients
- Provide advice on offer price
- Explain the current real estate market
- Explain pros & cons of each neighborhood
- Verify completion of repairs
- Make sure the loan funds
- Schedule & attend the walkthrough
- Dispute low appraisals
- Verify delivery of title commitment
- Remind clients to schedule utilities
- Manage your online reputation
- Compete with 1,000’s of realtors® for business
- Deal with vendors
- Keep mls listing data current
- Attend real estate conferences
- Network with local home builders
- Coordinate open houses
- Check up on past clients
- Still have a life after you’re done!
“Finding a Realtor is not hard, but finding one that is best-suited for you and your purchase is a challenge.” – Mark Moffatt, McEnearney Associates
So, where do I find someone who holds and demonstrates the values I care about?
Tips for Finding the Best Agent:
Most real estate agents stay in business because satisfied clients refer them to friends, family, neighbors, and coworkers. Ask the people around you who they have used and ask them to describe their experiences with this real estate agent. Successful agents make customer satisfaction their number one priority and put their customers’ needs before their own.
Seek Advice and Information from Known Professionals
Use the mortgage guy you know as a resource for agent referrals as many brokers have first-hand knowledge of exceptional agents. Ask your plumber. Ask your lawyer. Professionals tend to refer other professionals like themselves.
It seems simple, but this is one the most effective methods of researching someone. Creep a little. Browse social media profiles. You can learn a lot about someone by what image they present online – especially by what they post and share! You will be working with this person for anywhere from one to six months. You’ll want to make sure you know as much as you can about them.
Now that I’ve found someone, what do I ask before I hire them? Do I really need to interview them?
Yes! Smart consumers interview potential real estate agents before deciding which agent to hire. Just as you are sizing up the potential for a good fit, rest assured that the real estate agent will likely be interviewing you, too. It won’t take long before you can get a good feel for who you might be hiring. In fact, studies have shown that you can size someone up with 5-10 seconds of meeting them.
It’s not necessary to act like a corporate hiring manager implementing a full-fledged professional behavioral employee interview. However, you should ask questions that satisfy your requirements. Here are a few examples:
What are the top three things that make you better than the other guy? It’s a simple question. A good realtor won’t hesitate to answer and should be able to clearly and concisely articulate why you should work with them. Everyone has their own standards, but most consumers say they are looking for agents who are: honest and trustworthy, friendly, available, good communicators, excellent negotiators, assertive, and analytical.
What is your marketing plan or strategy for my needs? As a buyer, you will need to know: How will you search for my new home? How many homes will I likely see before I find a home I want to buy? Will I be competing against other buyers? How do you handle multiple offers? Do you present offers yourself? Your agent should have a game plan ready to show you.
How long have you been in the business? Keep in mind that longevity does not automatically equal quality. There is an ocean of licensed realtors in Minnesota. Yet, it is astounding to me the number of low quality individuals I come across posing as realtors that have been in the business for decades that are disengaged, entitled, lazy, and frankly, ineffective.
Buying or selling a home is statistically one of the most stressful events in a person’s life. Just like driving a car from point A to point B there will be bumps in the road and unexpected hazards along the way. However, with the professional assistance of a skilled realtor, if you are prepared, organized, have reasonable expectations, and are willing to adapt and “flex” on the path toward home ownership, the buying process can be a satisfying experience!
If you want to be sure that you are working with an agent who understands you, listens to you, and truly puts your best interests first please get in touch with me!