My history professor always said, “There are three necessities in life: Food, Clothing, and Shelter.”
To obtain any of these three require an individual’s tastes and preferences. The third necessity – Shelter – or, more aptly stated – a home – takes more than just knowing your likes and dislikes.
If there were a one-size-fits-all approach to buying a home we could go shopping for one at Walmart. Alas, it is not quite that easy and the process can be tedious and unpredictable. Having someone you can trust to guide you through the process is important. Generally, the average home buyer starts their search for a home online and then looks to family or friends for a referral to a real estate agent or Realtor (an agent that belongs to the National Association of Realtors).
This is the important part, because the real estate agent is the person to bring all parties together, facilitate important information, and make the process run smoothly. In a perfect world your agent would find you a house (or list and sell your home) with ease and minimal stress and everyone would show up to the closing table with smiling faces and a good nights sleep. However, we live in the real world and it’s imperative that your agent is accessible and can have the knowledge and foresight to anticipate potential issues and then help navigate you through the process to bring you to that desired “happy ending.”
Some qualities to look for when choosing your agent:
Accessibility: How easily is it to get ahold of your agent? Do they work another job full time and real estate is just a part time gig? Having an agent with mobile email, such as a Blackberry or other smartphone, almost guarantees that the agent will be in-the-know regarding your communication and needs, even if they can’t respond immediately.
Reliability: Your real estate agent is your guide and is there to support you through the process by interpreting and advising you on situations that are unclear or unfamiliar. As your guide, your agent should promptly respond to your calls or emails and you shouldn’t have to worry whether they’ll get back to you. Follow up and follow through are important characteristics to possess. If you have to wait more than half a day for a response (and then the dreaded excuse), then you’re probably waiting too long.
Communication: Even if this isn’t your first home purchase (or sale), an agent should explain the process and what comes next so that your expectations can be set. Should your expectations go unmet, your agent will hopefully be in communication beforehand to explain why an issue or deadline may not be met and what can be done to fix it. Also, a real estate agent should keep you informed of their whereabouts – as when they may take a weekend away or may have a day of training and not be easily accessible to communicate via email or phone.
Experience and Foresight: The longer your agent has been in the industry the more experience they will have to be be able to predict and anticipate various circumstances and situations. This is a very important factor. If your agent can foresee an issue with an appraisal or detect that another party is not being honest then they can save you the frustration and the emotional stress that comes when dealing with last minute issues.
Trust and Honesty: It’s great when an agent is in-the-know and can almost literally predict the future of your transaction, but if they’re not honest and upfront with you then they’re worthless. If you have to doubt what you’re being told then you may want to reconsider beginning a real estate relationship with this particular agent. The scary thing is that this could be hard to detect up front if the real estate agent gives you a good sales pitch and promises you the world. Be skeptical and have them prove they are working for you and have your interests at heart. The sooner you know your agent is trustworthy and painfully honest, the better. You don’t want to be half-way through the process of buying or selling a house and realize your agent is treating you like a paycheck now that they have you sold and will ultimately drop you for the next hot prospect.
You will know when you find a good real estate agent. They’ll work hard for you up front, let you know what they’re doing on your behalf, communicate with you frequently to let you know of progress, and at the end of the day you can breath a sigh of relief because you can trust that they will be reliable and will be there for you until the end. Generally you will find that someone is trustworthy and honest when they demonstrate up front that they are reliable, accessible, and communicate frequently with you to let you know what comes next.
Working with a Realtor is a relationship. When both parties understand each other, their goals, and their general way of communicating, then the process should be smooth. The mechanics of finding you some shelter now becomes a journey to find you a dream home and … who knows … you may both become life-long friends. (You can’t find that at Walmart).
If you’re looking for an agent that possesses all of the above characteristics, please contact me.