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Choosing A Real Estate Agent 101

Are You Holding Out For A Hero?

You are thinking of selling your house and moving into a better one. Perhaps your last child is finally out of the house and you are ready to downsize your life for convenience sake. Maybe you have had a good year in a tough economy and your personal arrow is pointing up. Or possibly you are looking to maintain the lifestyle you have grown accustomed to and selling your current home is part of that strategy. How do you go about hiring an agent? What you need is someone you can trust to guide you through the process. Someone who is professional, but not impersonal. A person who has your best interests at heart and will do what it takes to help you make the especially tough choices. Who is this hero? Why it's your friendly neighborhood Real Estate Agent, that's who! But you don't want a run of the mill agent. You need a great agent with the credentials, professionalism and personal touch you deserve. A cape doesn't hurt either. Let talk about how to choose the right one for you.

How To Choose A Great Real Estate Agent

1. Ask A Friend:

The first thing you should do is talk to your friends, colleagues and if you are comfortable enough, leverage your professional network too. Getting a referral is easy! Any of your friends or family in a similar station in life to you probably have gone through the process themselves. They likely will be more than happy to give you good advice and share good and bad experiences with you. This is the easiest first step ever and word of mouth is a great way to meet new agents.

2. To Thine Own Self Be True:

This almost needs to be step #1-A in stead of #2. Be honest about what your home is worth, how much the market says and what is realistic. We live in volatile times where people are taking losses left and right against the value they bought in at when the bubble was at a high point. If you have unfair expectations it doesn't matter how great your agent is. You will undermine them and their work on your behalf from the start and set you both up for unnecessary disappointment.

3. Aim For a Range of Pricing:

Real Estate as an industry has never been more competitive, even under the current conditions of the market. You as the client hold all the cards and wield the power up to a certain point. Some brokers, like a shark sensing blood in the water will sell an eager and unrealistic home own on a high dollar figure. The rationale is that this faux confidence about being able to an un-naturally high price for your home will get your business. A good agent, an agent worth going in to business with will give you an honesty range reflecting what your home is worth, what the market says is fair and the expected interest based on well-researched factors. Like the old adage states: if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.

4 Choose Wisely

History shows that like any competitive business that unscrupulous people will say anything to get your money. The responsibility is on you to choose to work with an agent who you can trust. Look at the success rate of sales an agent has for homes in your price range, size, location and any other factors that m,ay be important to you. You certainly don't want to go with an agent that is biting off more than they can chew just to make a sale.

5. Substance Over Flash.

There is a cliché that says "you never get a second chance to make a first impression". While that is a caveat that all professionals need to be mindful of, don't get too eager because an agent has the flashiest car or the best watch. Most people, regardless of their means and lifestyle respect agents who are confident, but humble. Some people put on airs of too much confidence in an attempt to win you over and convince you of their abilities. A good agent should be confident, but not cocky. While it is fine to be proud of one's accomplishments, an agent worthy of your business will let their reputation and history speak for themselves.

6. Choose The Agent With the Best RE Toolkit

Just like doctors, many Agents can be generalists or specialists. Not only should you choose the agent right for you and your needs, but the more well rounded and experienced they are they are in all likelihood more successful too. Look for designations like whether an agent is a Realtor, certified by the National Association of Realtors, a Certified Residential Specialist, or an Accredited Buyer's Representative. It pays to know exactly what your prospective agent is a specialist in and if their experience and credentials are a match for you.

7. Avoid the Me, Me, Me Types

The greatest skill any of us have is the ability to listen. Lack of attentiveness and poor communication are among the top three complaints against agents and Realtors. If your agent is shut down to your feeling and and suggestions, how can they properly sell your home? Granted there are some of us that need a lot of hand holding to get through a big event like buying or selling a home. Still, opens ears and opens minds is a good habit for any broker.

8. References Make All The Difference.

This is an absolute no-brainer and is a top deal breaker for most. Any agent you consider should freely give you a list of references and they should for the most part be exceptional. You can tell a lot about a prospective agent and the kind of relationship you will have with them through referrals. If there are any red flags in the references feel free to bring them up for discussion. Especially in this age with so much information and so many options like Social Media (Yelp, we are looking in your direction) people are prone to voicing their dissatisfaction. At the same time a good agent should be able to explain a tepid review, if they have any at all.

9. With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility.

Here is another one that is pure common sense. If you have to suggest strategies, ideas or fundamental issues to your agent in the course of your dealings, perhaps you chose poorly and need to reevaluate the relationship. A Realtor especially knows what they need to do instinctively to sell your home or get you into a new one. If you have any inkling that someone doesn't know what they are talking about, run, don't walk the other way!

10. An Agent is Your partner, Not Your Boss

Last and never least this business is about the relationship between people as much as anything else. While a good professional knows what they are doing, they should never forget whatever the circumstance they work for you, the buyer or sell. They need to make themselves available to you and they ought to offering options at every turn to you, allowing you to feel empowered and as big a part of the process as you need to be to feel comfortable. An agent that acts more like a partner and less like a boss (or worse that you owe them something because of a potential deal) is not the way to go. As the client you should always feel like a stakeholder and not like a child getting scolded for making suggestions, asking questions and providing continuous feedback.

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