The professional that makes the home buying or selling process a dream is a real estate agent. You may think a real estate agent is just that, but at Legacy Properties West, we know that not all agents are created equal. Before making your decision you should interview at least three agents. In our last article, we discussed how to choose the best realtor for you, and part of that process is making sure to ask the right questions when interviewing agents. To help you with this, we’ve put together a comprehensive list of questions to ask your potential representative.
An agent that’s been in the business and around the block, so to speak, will be able to anticipate problems before they arise. A seasoned Realtor will have tried and true negotiation techniques as well as relationships with other real estate professionals. Relationships that can help you find the right person for staging, photography, financing and more. However, don’t discount an agent just because they are new, particularly if they have stellar referrals.
If you were hiring a new employee for your company, calling their references would be at the top of your to-do list. Your agent works for you, and you should be vetting them with the same rigor you would any other professional. Speak with their past clients to learn about their personal experiences and get the good, bad and the ugly. If you’re interviewing an agent and they can’t provide a list of past clients, be cautious.
Getting a feel for the ratio of buyers to sellers gives you some indication of your agent’s area of expertise. Many agents work as either buyer specialists or seller specialists. Working with someone who specializes in the process can be great. But an agent who is equally versed with a balanced roster can offer some insights on both sides of the process.
Before entering into a relationship with an agent you should have a solid understanding of how they are paid. Typically, buyers don’t pay agent commission fees, usually, the seller covers them. The percentage varies by market, agent and circumstance, and that’s why you need to openly discuss costs with your agent. In the end, your goal is to net the most money, not pay the smallest fees. Partner with the best agent you can find, not just the one with the lowest fees.
Some real estate agents only work part-time, presenting a problem with timing. What if a bidding war starts on your dream home, or you encounter last-minute closing snafus? If you have a complicated schedule, you’ll want to confirm that your agent can be available. Open houses are usually held on weekends. If your agent is unavailable on weekends, you may want to take that into consideration. Ideally, you want an agent who works full time. If not, the agent should make it abundantly clear how urgent matters will be addressed if and when necessary.
As part of an agent’s continuing education, they may have a number of certifications. A Realtor® is a real estate professional who’s a member of the National Association of Realtors. A distinction only top-performing agents receive is CRS (Certified Residential Specialist). These are rock stars. ABR® (Accredited Buyer Representatives,) these agents have completed specific training to represent buyers in a real estate transaction. On the other side is SRS (Accredited Seller Representative) and you guessed it, these agents have specific training in representing sellers.
If there are limited houses for sale, and those listed sell immediately, you’re in a red-hot, competitive market – which is what Colorado is currently experiencing. In this kind of market, you need someone who really knows what they’re doing. If you’re looking to buy, you need an agent who is an expert negotiator and knows the community inside and out. If you’re selling, you want to know your agent can price your home to sell. Determine the sale-to-list ratio, which you can get by dividing the final sale price by the asking price. The closer this number is to 100%, the better. If it’s well over 100%, that means they’re getting more than the asking price for the homes they sell.
The Bottom Line
There are a lot of agents to choose from out there, but like we said this is one of the most important relationships you’ll ever be in. Take your time and vet the candidates thoroughly. When you’re ready to start interviewing agents, we would love for you to meet our team. Stop by our office or call us anytime. We can’t wait to be part of your home buying or selling journey.