Purchasing a home is a big life decision. Probably one of the largest monetary decisions that most people will make in their entire lifetime. That's why it's important that you take the time when choosing Realtor! So what factors should you consider when selecting a realtor?
Unsurprisingly, a good realtor is a knowledgeable realtor! More specifically your realtor should be knowledgeable in a couple key areas. Obviously, your realtor should have a good understanding of the steps you will be taking in the process of buying or selling your home.
Beyond this, you will want to choose a realtor who understands your local market. Your realtor should have a good idea of the inventory available in your area, and how quickly or slowly properties are moving. Your realtor should have an idea of the number of months supply and a good understanding of the factors that influence the real estate market - like employment rates, interest rates, seasonality. etc. Not only should they be knowledgeable, they should have strategies to market your home, season to season.
Furthermore, if you are selling your home, it's very important that your realtor has a strategy for selling your home and has a grasp on digital marketing or has someone who can assist. Research has shown that 44% of buyers look online first when looking for listings, this percentage is even higher for younger generations [2018 Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends Report, NAR 2018]. Here at Coldwell Banker all agents have access to a marketing specialist, and all of our top performing agents have dedicated time with a marketing specialist along with ample training.
Lastly, while the 3 letters you keep seeing after your realtor's name may seem meaningless to you, you should take into consideration these designations. Designations provide additional knowledge and awareness of specific client needs, and additional resources for helping agents in these more specific cases. For instance, selling a commercial property is drastically different from selling a residential property, so having a CRS designation shows that they've taken the time to understand the residential buyers needs and special considerations for financing, and marketing.
In addition to being knowledgeable you will want an agent that is experienced. So you may think to ask your realtor simply, how many years of experience do you have... right? Wrong! Well, not wrong but you do want to focus questions on learning more about their recent experience and education, rather than focusing solely on the number of years of experience. It's important to focus on recent experience, and more specifically the past 2 years of experience, because the real estate market is very reliant on economic and financial factors like interest rates, unemployment, technology, and regulation of the market that are dependent on the times. Thus selling a home today isn't the same as selling a home 20 years ago, and extensive past experience while relevant, shouldn't carry as much weight as their recent experience.
So what kind-of experience should they have? You will want to identify who they work with more - buyers or sellers. Certain agents have skill-sets more aligned with helping a buyer or seller, and this tends to show in the clients they serve. You will also want to get an idea of their average home value sold in the past 2 years, and if they've specialized with working with any relevant specialized buyer or seller - first time home-buyers, relocation, etc.
[SIDE NOTE: While recent experience is important, having more experience will definitely come in handy with any homes that are difficult / more complex to sell or if there has been a downward shift in the market. Agents that have been the industry for a while have come across a number of situations that potentially newer agents have not yet, and thus they may be able to provide you tips that help you in a difficult real estate transaction and economic downturns.]
Have you heard that saying - "it's not what you know, it's who you know..."? As we've explained what an agent knows is extremely important, but another factor to consider is the resources they have available at their fingertips! With Coldwell Banker being one of the largest brokerages in the area, and nationally - this vast network and cooperative environment gives agents ample people and data to source if there's a question they can't answer. Additionally at Coldwell Banker Heritage we have a office managers that focus solely on helping agents get you to the closing table. Furthermore, because of it's size Coldwell Banker Heritage is able to offer supplemental tools, and support to it's agents.
Everyone in the transaction has the same goal - to help you buy or sell your home but a good agent recognizes that it's important to have a good experience! One sure fire way you will have a good experience is finding a realtor that listens! If a realtor set you up with a portal search, how well did it fit your criteria? Is your realtor understanding your end goal? Is your realtor asking clarifying questions about your needs during the process? Does your realtor ask for feedback? If you find your realtor is not listening during the interview process, find a new realtor!
Many times when there are problems between realtors and their clients, it's often related to differences in expectations. When expectations are set and agreed upon, everyone is much happier because they understand what is going on and why. So after you've got a good idea of who you'd like to work with set expectations for communication, scheduling, timing, steps in process, and services offered in transaction.
For buyers, it's important to set an expectation for the number of homes you would like to visit in a week and how the ideal timing for the move. For sellers, you need to understand their basic process for how they determined the value of your home, any repairs or renovations to get this amount, the timing for sale, and schedule for price reductions. While you're not the expert, and it is important to trust your realtor - you also don't want to have an expectation of getting X and get Y. So if you have any concessions to how your home was evaluated, ask them how they came to and why! Keep in mind that your realtor takes into several factors for determining value including variable factors like the local market conditions (interest rates, supply, economy, seasonality) that they have no control over! So when a realtor provides you an evaluation, expect that you will need to reevaluate this amount if your home stays on the market longer than the average home. Also, do not expect to get the evaluated amount without the requested repairs, and clean-up! Remember these are realtors, not magicians or fortune tellers!