With over twenty years working full-time as a Realtor I have often found myself wondering how so many people get hooked up with so many really bad Realtors and I’ve come to the conclusion that the reason is they don’t take time to actually interview them. Thinking all Realtors are alike can lead to a lot of heartache and problems for the inexperienced home buyer or seller. It’s comparable to believing all lawyers or doctors are the same so it hardly matters who you use.
Having gone through numerous “interviews” with potential Buyers and Sellers I realize that even those that do want to interview and choose a Realtor often don’t know what to really ask. Here’s a list of five questions I think are the critical ones any home buyer or seller should ask.
How long have you been a full-time broker/agent? – If they haven’t been in the business at least 5 years I’d say you’re wasting your time. 80% of all Realtors don’t last two years in the business and this statistic has been the same for over fifty years. Do you want to trust one of your largest financial transactions to someone who is either inexperienced or may not even be around two years from now?
How many transactions have you closed in the past 6 months? The past year? Show me a report that verifies this. - If the agent you speaking with hasn’t closed on average at least 1 transaction a month, then move on. The best agents close two or more transactions a month. As a consumer you need to verify this and the way to do it is to require the agent to print out a report from their MLS system showing you their closed transactions and the dates they closed. I’m not concerned about the dollar value of each closing, the fact that their closing deals is evidence that they know how to negotiate and get deals made.
What is the agents position is on “dual agency.” In other words what happens if the you become interested in one of their listings and want to make an offer or if you are the Seller and they have a Buyer who wants to make an offer on their property. The majority of agents will proceed to give you a song and dance about how they then become “neutral negotiators” blah, blah, blah. It’s time to look elsewhere. You aren’t hiring them to be “neutral”, you’re hiring them to represent your best interests. The truth is they aren’t neutral when this situation arises they have but one thought in their heads and it’s this,”What do I need to do to get these two knuckleheads to agree so I can keep the entire commission?”
Dual Agency is a clear-cut conflict of interest. When I find myself in this position I step aside from both my Buyer and my Seller and my office designates a Broker who knows nothing about the Seller to the Buyer and one who knows nothing about the Buyer to the Seller and I am removed from the transaction. As a company we believe this is the only fair thing to do. Our clients (Buyers and Sellers) hire us to advocate for them and we acknowledge that if on nothing else but the price Buyers and Sellers have opposing perspectives. Do not accept agents who try to convince you otherwise.
If you are a Seller, you’ll want to know how they will market your property. Don’t worry about print advertising, it’s basically worthless. You want to be all over the Internet and you want premium positioning on the big three real estate websites. Realtor.com, Trulia and Zillow. Premium positioning mean the agent is paying money monthly to these sites to promote their listings. Every listing is on these sites for free, you want your to stand out and if they aren’t willing to pay what it takes to do this, then they probably aren’t the agent for you. Ask if they use a professional to take pictures (I do), will they buy a home warranty for your home? (I do for all my listings) This is business and doing business costs money, if you agent isn’t doing these things it’s probably for one simple reason, their not making enough money and aren’t successful. Move on.
How available are you? – Understand a good agent is busy, they probably don’t have a lot of time to waste and you need to respect this. They don’t get paid by the hour, they only get paid when sales close. That said, they need to be readily available. I always have my smart phone with me and never travel without my laptop. It’s not that I like working 7 days a week, but I constantly have multiple transactions working and need to be able to respond to my clients. My clients can reach me 7 days a week from 6AM – 6PM if needed, after 6PM I monitor calls but unless we’re in the midst of a negotiation I probably won’t answer. I’m a morning person, and my evenings are for my family and friends, other agents are night owls, the hours they work are less important than the fact that you can reach them any day of the week and that they will respond within a few hours.
I work in the Chapel Hill, Durham, Research Triangle area of North Carolina, if your interested in interviewing me to help you with your real estate needs. Larry Tollen Real Estate Durham NC 919 967 6363