Wednesday, June 13, 2007

How to Choose a Realtor—Why a Good Friend is Not Always a Good Option

Yesterday, I was on the phone with a client. This family was referred to me by past clients that I had met at an open house. I have worked the family for several years now and while I now consider them friends, I was their Realtor first.
While chatting about other things, my client mentioned her son and his wife had just signed an agreement on their first home. I didn’t have a second to feel disappointed as she immediately said that they had really encouraged him to work with me. But they chose to work with the wife’s father’s good friend instead. Dad’s friend was a long time family friend from church and they just couldn’t say no. She also added that they now questioned the wisdom of their decision.
My clients accompanied the young couple on a final visit to the two homes they were considering. Now I have taken my clients to several properties throughout Anoka and Chisago counties looking for a hobby farm that they will be proud to call their home. When we look at a house, I know that they are thinking about which kid gets which room and if the land is suitable for horses. I consider it an important part of my job to be the look out for the houses’ potential problems that they can discuss with an inspector about like the roof, foundation, window sills and ceilings for indications of water damage, signs of pest infestation etc. Though I am not an inspector, there are things real estate agents should be aware of and look out for to avoid problems for their clients.

My client said she could not believe her son’s agent. He just stood back, said nothing and let the young couple walk with their parents and grandparents around the house. Even when inquiries were made, he offered no assistance. She went on to say that of the two homes: one all ready done and move-in ready and one requiring an abundance of work, the couple chose the latter. And this low-key agent advised his clients to offer Full Price as the only way to get the home.

What? Did I hear that right? Full-price in a buyer’s market? This is where the mom had to offer advice to her son on his first home purchase. Advice he was not getting from his agent. No one offers full price in this market. The son and daughter-in-law did offer less and their agreement was accepted. Through the purchase agreement process they realized maybe this agent wasn’t their best choice. Maybe he was new and didn’t know the paperwork. Maybe he was one of the many agents who work one or two deals a year and isn’t aware of how negotiations change in a buyers market. Maybe he just isn’t experienced enough to provide adequate advice. Maybe he doesn’t like the negotiation process.

I did a little research and this particular agent was not in a dual agency. Had he been a dual agent, he could not advise on terms, such as price, as being under contract with both clients, an agent cannot do anything to harm either. But I also discovered this family friend works on the other side of town from where this young couple wanted to live. It is hard to show homes and advise on an area when the agent is unfamiliar with it.
With over 30,000 licensed agents in the state of Minnesota, everyone knows a real estate agent. Some of these people have had their licenses for years but only dust them off once a year to “help” out a friend. Others are good people who have left other professions but were too young to retire and decided to give real estate a go. Many agents look to supplement the income from their full time job with a sale here and there. If you are considering hiring a good friend who fits into one of these categories, think long and hard before you do.

A home is the biggest and most important investment most people will make in their lifetime. You owe it to yourself to have the BEST representation in this transaction. Take the time to interview several people before signing a buyers’ representation agreement, not just your trusted friend. If the home buying process does not go well, it could not only cost you money, it could cost you a friendship.

If you are relocating to Minnesota, are looking for Homes for Sale in the north and east Twin Cities metro area and need help from a professional Realtor, give me a call or visit my website for a FREE Relocation Packet. I specialize in acreage properties! Serving Anoka, Chisago, Ramsey and Washington Counties in Minnesota.

Copyright 2007