Selecting a Buyer’s Agent: 8 Traits To Look For...
You want to buy a house. A large sum of money is at stake. The process is complex. You don’t want to do it on your own.
So, how do you find someone that you can trust to guide you through this process?
1. Compatible Personalities
Buying a home, regardless of whether it is a house or a condo, is a lengthy process. With today’s financial market, there is no reason to think you will be done from start to finish in less than 45 days unless you are fortunate enough to pay all cash – but not many people fit into that category. Therefore, you’re going to want to make sure that you are comfortable with the personality of the real estate agent you work with. There is no point spending hours and hours with a person if they grate on your nerves every time they open their mouth to speak.
To a degree, you may be able to get a sense for an agent’s personality by researching their online presence. They may have content on their website that they generated themselves; although, that’s not always the case. They may be active on Twitter and Facebook and other social media websites that will give you some insight into who they are as individuals. But, more than anything, a brief sit-down over coffee will be what you need to see if they pass the “don’t-make-my-skin-crawl” test.
2. Preferred Communication Method(s)
Phone calls, text messages, emails, tweets, Facebook posts, smoke signals … there are so many ways for people to communicate today. If you have a preference, your real estate agent should be able and willing to accommodate it. There are numerous reasons as to why you prefer one method over another – maybe technology isn’t your closest friend and your phone is the place where text messages go to die … maybe your job doesn’t offer you access to email during the day. The reason doesn’t matter – if you have a preference, your agent needs to be just as comfortable using it as any other form.
3. Sensitivity To Your Desires
Sensitivity to your desires is simply my way of saying that your agent listens to you. If you tell your agent that being able to walk to down-town from your home is important, they shouldn’t waste your time looking at houses in the country club 5 miles away. Listening is such a simple task that we often take it for granted.
4. Ability To Explain
Pre-qualified vs pre-approved. Agency disclosure. Escrow. Absorption rates. Impound accounts. Addendums. Counter offers. The list goes on and on … but the point is that there are a lot of aspects to real estate that are not intuitively obvious for many of us. Therefore, it’s imperative that the real estate agent you decide to work with be skilled at explaining each of these items in a manner that resonates and is understandable by you.
Let’s say that last part again … the agent must be able to explain the information in a manner that is understandable by YOU.
An agent may understand an aspect of a contract well enough to explain it to someone with a law background, but, if you don’t have a law degree, what good does that do you? They must be able to break the concepts down into a familiar form that you can comprehend; otherwise, you may inadvertently make a wrong decision. And, considering the potential financial ramifications, that’s the last thing you want to do when it so easily could have been avoided.
5. Market/Niche Knowledge
The agent you choose to work with needs to be able to demonstrate to you, at a minimum, their competency within the market and niche you are focused on. For example, if you’re a first time buyer looking for a starter home in Berlin, your agent should be well versed on the Berlin market and have the ability (and patience) to walk you through each step of the transaction. This is a very different skill-set from what you would look for in an agent to advise you on your investment plans. Likewise, both of these examples are very different from what you would look for in an agent to sell your house.
Certain skills are universal – negotiating, for example. However, the more focused and unique your needs, the more important it is to find an agent with the corresponding expertise. Don’t fall for someone claiming to be an expert in foreclosures, short sales, first time home buyers and investing … it’s simply not true! Make sure the person you select has the knowledge required for your situation.
6. Compatible Negotiation Techniques
When it comes time to write an offer, it’s important to have an agent that approaches the negotiations in a manner you are comfortable with. The best agents are capable of adapting their style to meet your desires, and that’s important when you start to consider the potential levels of stress you will encounter during the purchase process.
Some people love to work to get the absolute best deal – that includes negotiating on everything: the price, closing costs, repairs, appliances, furniture, cars, you name it. Others want to avoid confrontation and have their first offer accepted as is. If you fall into this second category and your agent writes up the contract 30% under asking price and demanding everything including the kitchen sink :), you’ll quickly find your stress levels spiking when the response comes back from the seller.
Everybody wants the best deal. Just remember that there are often multiple ways to achieve the same outcome. Work with the right agent and you’ll get your desired outcome in a manner that keeps you comfortable throughout the entire process.
7. Industry Connections
No one buys a house all on their own – agents, lenders, escrow/title officers and inspectors are on the short list of industry professionals involved in most deals in NH, VT & Maine. As a buyer, you have the right to choose these individuals on your own. In practice, though, not many people have all of these connections unless they too work in the real estate industry. That’s where your selection of a real estate agent can make or break some deals.
A quality agent will not only have these connections, but they should have multiples for you to choose from. Ideally, these connections will be for individuals who perform at the same, if not better, level than your agent. Don’t feel obligated, though, to work with any of them. At the end of the day, the choice is yours.
8. Willingness To See It Through To The End
Being a buyer, regardless of the market, can be a lengthy process. From when you first decide the time is right to buy a home until the day you close and receive the keys, many months can pass in-between. Unfortunately for buyers, not all agents have the patience to see this through to the end when the months start stacking up.