Monday, October 31, 2011

REALTOR® Selection 101—How to Choose the BEST REALTOR® for YOU! (Part One of Two)

How does the average home buyer or seller find their REALTOR®? Did they meet a friendly person hosting an open house? Call their best friend's brother who just got licensed? Answer an ad on Craigslist? I don't know the percentages but I am certain that most home buyers don't spend any more time researching their real estate agent than they do their groceries. But a home is not an everyday purchase; it is too big of a decision to not have sound advice. So how does one select a good REALTOR® to work with?

The average American will buy or sell property only 2-3 times during their lifetime. It is imperative to have a logical process to select a real estate agent. Purchasing and selling a home for your family is a very emotional situation. If you chose an agent wisely, you will be confident that your REALTOR® is on your side through the entire purchase and/or sale even when your emotions are running high.

As a REALTOR® working in the Twin Cities north metro, I love assisting people to find the perfect home. Many of my clients come from the referrals of past clients but I also meet home buyers at open houses and through various marketing avenues. When I meet a potential client, I expect questions about myself and my business. I answer additional questions about living on acreage, wetlands and lakeshore. I field questions on properties in Anoka, Washington and Ramsey Counties. Sometime the questions are about specifics of homes the buyer is interested in and often the questions are about the real estate market in general. But unfortunately not all of these potential clients ask pertinent questions. Some are already be caught up in the emotional buying process of a major life change.

Here is a great step-by-step approach to selecting the perfect REALTOR® for you. Part one of this article outlines how you can prepare yourself to set up meetings with potential REALTORS®. Part two (which I will post tomorrow) will give you specific questions you can ask of potential agents so that you can make a good decision.

Step ONE
Ask YOURSELF these few questions

1. Who do you trust for advice?

Is it a parent or grandparent? Maybe a close friend or uncle? Or is it your sibling or boss? Think about the qualities that person possesses and why you look at them as an advisor. If your trusted advisor is your grandfather, you might prefer working with someone older. If you tend to bring your problems to your best friend, you might want a REALTOR® with similar characteristics to your friend.

2. How demanding are you?

If you are an impatient person who needs answers as soon as you think of a question, you will need a REALTOR® that is available to you. If you are more laid back, you might prefer a REALTOR® with a similar style.

3. Do you prefer to use email, text or the phone as your main source of information?

Some REALTORS® are very computer savvy and will answer an email within a few minutes. Some love to text with their clients to provide an immediate answer. Others answer emails once a week and don't even know how to send a text There are REALTORS® who return calls only one time a day or week. There are others that always answer their own phone and others that have an assistant to field calls and answer basic questions.

4. Are you into gadgets?

If you are listening to your Ipod while you surf the net on your wireless tablet, you might prefer working with an agent who presents your market analysis in a Powerpoint presentation or emails it to you in a pdf file. If you prefer a paper document to refer back to and make notes on, a REALTOR® with more a more traditional style might be what you need.

5. Do you have expensive tastes and exclusive brands or do you live more modestly?

If you like the finer things in life, you might have more in common with a REALTOR® who drives a BMW and signs contracts with a Mont Blanc pen. If you have a more relaxed style, a REALTOR® in a Ford or Toyota Sedan that uses personalized ballpoints might be more your style.

Step TWO

Even if you have just made mental notes on your preferences as you read the above questions, you now have a good idea of what type of person you prefer working with. Armed with this information, it is time for the second step. RESEARCH Check out websites of potential agents BEFORE you meet them. Read their blogs and review their profiles to determine what their style is. If you cannot ascertain their style from their site, move to the next agent. There are hundreds of good agents out there. But if they cannot market themselves, how will they be able to market your home? Come up with a list of 4 or 5 potential agents and visit your state’s department of commerce website to check for violations on each potential agent’s record.

Now you are ready to interview potential agents. Get some great questions ready so that you can find the best REALTOR® for you. Having trouble coming up with great questions? REALTOR® Selection 101—How to Choose the BEST REALTOR® for YOU! (Part Two of Two) will provide you with some tools to help with the interview process.