We’ve talked about a Real Estate Agent in a number of places here. If you hadn’t gone through this information, you should expect that your agent will provide you with similar information.
Now with that said, people often ‘get’ a Real Estate Agent as a result of attending an open house or some flyer they received in the mail. That’s pretty common really. But lets face it. If you buy or sell a home, the agent or agents are getting paid for their services. Therefore you want to make sure you are getting your moneys worth.
When you approach an agent or are being approached by an agent, you should be expecting a bit of a sales pitch. It will probably feel like someone applying for a job (with you as the employer). So the agent’s particulars, the brokerage they work for, general statistics on their successes and so on. All good information to have. But you will want to know what they do for their commission. So some questions you should ask them are:
How will you be presenting me potential homes?
If you have gone on MLS yourself, you will already have a feel for what type of information is available there. Having an agent who simply sends you links to listings periodically or just shows you printed MLS listings when you get together is pretty basic service.
The value lies in showing you the value of the homes available. There may be 10 homes in an area you have decided on, with prices ranging from $250,000 to $375,000. Based on what you are looking for, there should be an order of value from highest to lowest. And just because something costs more, doesn’t mean it is the highest value. When an agent selects homes to show you, they should know what you are looking for in advance including your budget, and should try to determine what homes are most likely to appeal to you that are in sync with your budget.
Just dropping 10 MLS printouts in front of you and saying ‘so which do you like the best’ or just booking you into 10 walk-throughs is not great service. That’s trial and error. Its extremely time consuming and can get pretty frustrating pretty fast.
A better approach I find is to talk briefly about all the homes available (those 10 listings), but have the top 3 detailed and compared, relative to what you mentioned you are looking for. This gives you something to focus on. One of the other 7 might look cool, so you can add that one to the list. That’s not a problem. Maybe even ask the agent if they have been through them in advance. Your agent is obliged to make sure you are aware of everything available, but that doesn’t mean you have to walk through each & every one. Now if you do want to see absolutely everything personally, that’s fine. But your agent should at be demonstrating their expertise in rating them.
How do you want to interact with your agent?
Everyone has busy lives, but if you’re in the market for a home, its likely to be your priority. That means you want to get a heads up from your agent in a timely fashion. But you probably don’t want to just get bombarded with information non-stop. It can quickly become noise. Now everyone is different, so I cant say the best way is this or that. However, your agent should be prepared to meet your needs in this regard. If you want summary emails once a week, that’s what you should get. If you want them to come to your home with listings, no problem. If you want a text as soon as the agent comes across a new property, so be it.
What if you get an agent, and they’re just not working out?
At the end of the day, most agents are hard working and will meet your needs and then some. And if you are clear and straight-forward, your agent should be more than happy to accommodate whatever you are looking for. With that said, when you begin working with an agent, you are likely to have signed a representation agreement of some sort. In signing that agreement, your agent is committing a level of service to you, and you are committing to work with that agent.
So if things just don’t feel right, take it up with the agent directly. If things are still not improving the way you’d hope, you should feel comfortable reaching out to that agent’s Broker. They are as committed to your satisfaction as their agents are. And often, they might be able to offer suggestions that can quickly smooth out any rough patches.
Now also keep in mind, the agent cant control the marketplace. You may be getting frustrated because your agent cannot find the home you want for the price you want right away. That isn’t the agent’s fault. That is sometimes just the nature of the marketplace. Also, keep in mind that there are limitations to what an agent can do on your behalf. For example, they cannot sign anything at all on your behalf. They may be able to recommend a Home Inspector, and they might even be able to have them contact you in order to have an inspection arranged. But they cannot sign an agreement with the inspector on your behalf. Similarly, if you are arranging financing with a bank, asking your agent to contact the bank on your behalf with new information would almost certainly fail, simply because of privacy laws observed by the bank.
But always keep in mind, you are the client here. You should always feel completely comfortable raising any concerns you have, and should always get the feeling that your agent is there for you.