Here an Agent, There an Agent, How Do I Pick an Agent?

By: Joe Cline

Real estate agents are everywhere, but finding the right one can result in savings of thousands of dollars or the successful closing of a deal. When we wanted to sell our home, we immediately contacted the agent who sold our previous home, in three days! We assumed that he would be equally successful selling our current place, but what we neglected to consider was the fundamental differences between the two homes when matching the type of sale with the sales agent. The price range of our current home was much higher than the first, which shrunk our market somewhat. Also, our realtor's advertising strategies were limited to neighboring towns and his web site was outdated. He was well known in the area, but he had his own company which limited his networking abilities compared to that of a larger company.

Our home went on the market in January and sat there until July when we finally changed realtors. Properties in the area were not moving, there was a trend toward inflated prices and people were not buying readily. I noticed that the only homes that did sell were held by the same husband/wife team; I decided these were the people to sell my house. When we met, they did request a slightly higher commission, but there was room for negotiation. They suggested improvements to our home that were never before considered, such as relocating our entire dining room. I followed their advice, they returned a few days later with a video crew, took lots of pictures and had our home listed on their web site in a couple days. Our home was sold within a week.

Much was learned from this experience; all realtors are not alike, and here are some things to look for when selecting a winning agent:

1) Make certain your realtor is compatible with the type of property you are selling. Someone who specializes in country properties may not be the best choice for your downtown condo. The agent should be familiar with the area and the market you live in.

2) Talk to people who have had successes with their realtors and get some referrals for reliable agents.

3) What will the marketing strategy be for your home, such as a video or slide show tour, front page ads and which papers will they advertise in? More sales are generated from internet postings compared to paper ads, ensure your realtor has an up to date web site. Also find out what their plan will be if there is a sluggish response to the ads.

4) Ask to see their resume, and check for the following:

Are they licensed by their state?

What sort of education do they have, some are licensed appraisers, decorators or inspectors.

If you're looking for a commercial investment, ensure they have qualifications in that area.

5) What commission do they charge; don't be shocked, most times these are negotiable when it comes down to closing a deal.

6) How many sales did they complete last year?

Overall, your realtor needs to be someone you feel comfortable working with, and it's important you are open with them; explaining your financial goals as well as your selling or buying time frame. They should have a proven track record of successful sales and have a strategy for selling your home. Don't be discouraged if you don't find the perfect realtor the first time around, there is a certain amount of luck involved when buying or selling a home, but you can increase your chances by knowing what to look for.

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