My first real estate agent was a jerk. We’ll call him Bill.
College graduation was just a month away. I had secured a job in the area but needed a place to stay. Instead of renting, I decided to purchase a small townhouse. I went to a well-known real estate agency in the area and requested an agent. They connected me to Bill. Admittedly, I was rushed so I didn’t do my due diligence with Bill. I made a mistake.
After touring one particular townhome, Bill and I stood outside and discussed what type of offer the owner might take. As we talked, a man walked up to us and said, “Hey, I saw you were looking at that townhouse. I rent one of the other townhomes. Don’t buy any of them. This is one of the few areas in the town where homes are actually decreasing in value.”
I thanked him and looked at Bill. His head hung down. I immediately knew that the information about the area’s values was not new to Bill. You see, Bill cared more about his paycheck than his client.
Bill was a terrible agent. But I have since worked with several excellent agents. I am pro-real estate agent. If you are looking to buy a home, I highly encourage that you get one. They help navigate the waters of home purchasing in ways that many cannot do on their own.
So how do you reduce the chances of getting an agent like Bill? Before hiring an agent, have them answer a few questions. Here are a few questions I should have asked Bill.
- How long have you been an agent? Experience doesn’t always equal excellence. Hiring a 10-year veteran does not guarantee that you will have an incredible experience. But it is good to know that you are not their first client.
- Are you part-time or full-time? Like experience, this not a deal breaker either way. But you do need to know that they can give you the time needed to find your next home.
- Do you require a pre-approval before I can work with you? Some real estate agents want to ensure that you are able to acquire a mortgage from a bank. They aren’t trying to be rude. They just want to know a client actually has the ability to purchase a home before spending a significant amount of their time with them.
- How many buyers do you typically work with? Having only a few clients may seem ideal. But remember, those agents that are managing several clients are typically busy for a reason—they do good work.
- In what neighborhoods do you do most of your business? If you are interested in particular neighborhoods, it is best to find an agent that is well versed in those areas.
- Does my budget fit your typical price range? If your budget is $150,000 and the agent’s typical range is $500,000 plus, you may not get the attention you need.
- What are your fees and are they negotiable? Make sure their fees are in line with other agents. Regarding the negotiability of the fees, the answer should be “yes.”
- How does communication work with you? This is very important. You need to know that they will be responsive to your questions and concerns. A lack of communication will lead to significant frustration.
- Do you work with a team? Many agents work with a team. And this is a good thing. An agent that is flying solo may cause reason for concern.
- Can I speak to some of those with whom you have worked? You need to hear from others’ experiences. Granted, the agent will likely provide references that he or she is confident will provide positive feedback. But talk to them nonetheless. Ask what the agent’s strengths and weaknesses are.
Please note that, on their own, none of these are make or break factors when hiring an agent. But they should provide a good sense of whether or not the agent is the one with whom you want to work.
Don’t be like me and end up with a Bill. Ask questions before partnering with them. Purchasing a home is probably the largest purchase you will make. There are many great agents out there. Find one that you believe will assist you well on the journey.
Happy house hunting!