How many times a week do you see a realtor’s postcard in your mailbox? For most, it’s an annoying piece of junk that goes directly in the recycling box, but for me, it’s an opportunity to see who my competition is and what they are doing to win your attention.
Over the past 30 years of my career as a realtor, I’ve seen many ebbs and flows, not just in the markets, but in the appearance of new real estate agents. Network television shows like Million Dollar Listing have given us a peek inside the higher end of the industry, even if everything is edited to increase the drama.
Before you hire a realtor, there are some serious questions you need to consider. As in all industries, there are some who are fully invested in their careers and others who are there to pass the time or fill a financial need.
A career in real estate is not easy, unless you love every aspect of it, as I do. The hours are long and unpredictable. Prospecting for new listings is hard work and we do hear “no” often. The competitive nature of the offer process can be frustrating and deflating at the same time. For all the challenges, what I love most about my career is the people I get to work with and the dreams I help them fulfill.
Part of my mission is to enable buyers and sellers to make educated decisions about who they work with, how they get their homes ready for sale, and what is important when considering offers.
So, why did you start selling real estate?
This is the first question you should ask before signing on with a realtor. It may not matter to you if someone is new to the field, but it matters why. Take this as a precautionary warning: someone who works part-time as a realtor is probably not fully invested in you or your investment. Too often, I’ve witnessed sellers who have left money on the table because the realtor they hired lacks the knowledge gained through experience or their focus is pulled toward other paying priorities. Can you imagine your doctor operating part time because during the day he does something else?
Can we talk about your commission?
Commission shouldn’t be the only gauge by which you choose your realtor. While some will be willing to negotiate their commission, it’s a good idea to consider why the realtor is willing to take a pay cut. You should be asking questions about what will change if the realtor reduces their commission. Will they limit or eliminate open houses? How will the marketing of your home be affected? Will they be available only at certain times?
Can you do double duty?
It can be very tempting to have your realtor represent you as a buyer and as the seller for the home you want to buy. While you might save some money on fees and commissions, there is clearly a conflict when the agent is acting on behalf of both the buyer and seller. YouThe agent will have inside knowledge of what is motivating a sale and will also know the financial position of the buyer. Your realtor has a duty to represent your best interests, but when he or she is working for both parties, which side of the fence will the agent land on?
Value and Service are paramount
When you hire a real estate agent, consider the value he or she brings to the table in terms of experience, integrity and responsibility. Your realtor should be most interested in serving you and your needs, on your timeline, while paying close attention to your desires. Every client is different and should be approached with that mindset. Ask questions, and keep asking them until you get the answers that make you feel you are making the right choice. Finding the right realtor should feel as comfortable as a good pair of shoes.