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What to Look for in a Real Estate Agent

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        Once the decision is made to buy or sell real estate, the question arises whether or not to hire an agent and if so, which agent should represent you in this very important process. Should you try this yourself, use your cousin, Jeb, who just started last week, or seek an experienced professional? If you decide to try it yourself, it is advisable to purchase and read one of the many helpful books available on buying and selling real estate. Buying and selling real estate is a complex process, but it is not brain surgery and with some research, you can do it! The following guidelines should help you make a great decision in choosing an agent.


  You have every opportunity, if you wish to take a little time interviewing agents, asking each the same questions. Some agencies even have videos and pamphlets on just this subject and have pre-purchase or sale counseling. Feel free to ask for and take advantage of this service. Ask as many questions as you need to feel comfortable or uncomfortable with an agent. Communication is very important for this complex process. No question is a bad question!


  If you are buying, when you begin shopping for an agent, make sure that you tell each agent your intent for the visit. Otherwise, when you do find the agent that you wish to represent you, the other agents you spoke with may declare that you are already working with them and refuse to share their commission with your agent. There is more than one way to compensate your agent, which is the topic of another column, but in order to preserve your ability to have your agent share in the listing agent’s commission, always tell agents you contact that you are being represented by another agent and give them your agent’s contact information. Otherwise, you may be paying out of pocket for your agent, which in most cases is well worth it.


MARKET KNOWLEDGE:


First of all, you’d probably like to have the agent represent you in the area that lists and sells the most properties that are similar to that which you are buying and/or selling. If you are selling, the agents should be able to provide you comparable sales and listings in your price range and have a thorough knowledge of time on the market and the percentage of the listing price sales have averaged. If you are buying, the agents should be able to provide you many listings from area agencies as well as their inventory if you are buying. An agent only presenting their listings to you is selling you short. The complete market segment includes much more than just one agency’s listings. Also, a commercial specialist probably won’t be as knowledgeable about the riverfront market.


HONESTY AND INTEGRITY:


There is no line of questioning for this quality in an agent. This is an intuitive judgment call that you must make at some point during your interview with the agents. Steer clear of any agent that openly makes degrading comments about other agencies. If you feel that you cannot get a clear answer from an agent, that agent may not be your best choice. An honest and competent agent will tell when they do not know that answer to a question, but will gather that information and get back with you. This is an area that is tough to gage, but at the end of your search one or two agents should stand out as your clear choice.


AVAILABILITY:


If you have a busy schedule and will only be available on weekends or evenings, this should be part of your criteria for your agent. A part-time agent may or may not be able to suit your needs in this area. If you are an out of area buyer or seller, you may wish to ask about correspondence via mail and/or e-mail. Electronic transfer of information is more and more convenient for busy schedule. A techno savvy buyer or seller may wish to be paired with a similar agent. You may also wish to ask how many active clients each agent is servicing and if they have time for another! Whatever your special request, feel free to try to find that agent that you communicate well with and works with your schedule.


KNOWLEDGE OF THE PROCESS


An agent should be able to guide you through the process of buying or selling completely from start to finish. There are many steps, which become second nature to a seasoned professional. The proper marketing of property is imperative to the sale of a property. The showing of all properties that suit a buyer’s requisite wants is imperative to the satisfactory purchase of the same. Ask for an overview of their game plan in reaching your goal and how each agent shall carry out their prospective plan.


This is just a brief overview of some key qualities that are important to your success in finding an agent to help you reach your goal of buying or selling real estate. If you make a choice and at some point into the process you feel that you’ve chosen in err, you may have a difficult time changing agents due to the Listing Contract or Buyer Agent Agreement that you’ve signed. With some planning and a bit of time invested in this decision, you should be able to make a great choice. You may also visit Realtor.com for additional and far more thorough information, including helpful forms you may use, in your search for the best representative for your goal. Good luck!

  Tina Morkert is a professional real estate broker with Realty Northwest in scenic northwest Montana., 5 miles west of Thompson Falls.


  DISCLOSURE: All information is from sources deemed to be reliable and accurate, but not warranted by Realty Northwest. Information subject to change without notice. Potential purchasers and agents are strongly urged to verify all statements contained herein to their own satisfaction.


 

 

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