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IF YOU ARE buying or selling a home,
choosing the right agent will make all the difference. Here are tips for finding the right
real estate agent.
Find someone reputable. You
should speak with at least three agents
before choosing one. The best way to find an
agent is through a referral or by going to
open houses in your area and meeting the
Make sure to ask these key questions:
How long have you been in the business?
How many escrows did you close last year?
What areas do you cover? Real estate is a local
business. You should have someone who is
an expert in your area. That said, just because
an agent is successful in your area does not
mean he or she is a match for you.
What type of properties have you bought
or sold? What is the price range of these properties? Make sure the agent you choose is well
versed in the type of property you are buying
How quickly will you respond to my communications and how will you respond? Real
estate is a 24/7 business, and you want someone who is readily available.
Who will be my main point of contact if you
are not available? If the real estate agent works
with a team, you want to know this, because if
you like a home, you will have to move fast.
(If you are a seller) How will my home be
marketed and how will you get my home in
front of target buyers? Have agents present
examples of past ads and fliers for listings, and
Finding the right
real estate agent
ask if they market online as well as in print.
(If you are a seller) What is the plan for
open houses? How many will you have, and
will you personally be sitting at each one? If
not, who will be there in your place?
If you feel that an agent is not giving you
the information you need and does not seem
to be confident with his or her own expertise,
take your business elsewhere.
Getting along. Your interactions
with an agent should feel good from day one.
You want a relationship with an agent where
you are upholding a mutual vision and you
are heard and respected. Don’t work with
someone you feel pressured or railroaded by.
Negotiation skills. An agent’s job is
to close a sale, and that means you want an
agent who is detail oriented and a skilled negotiator. Just because an agent has a CNE
(Certified Negotiation Expert) designation
does not necessarily mean the agent is an
expert negotiator. Asking agents how many
deals they closed last year might give you
insight into how capable they are.
On the other hand, here’s a list of what to
watch out for in your search:
• Agents who say they can get an exceptional price, above market value, for your
home. They may overstate your house’s value
to win your listing and try to persuade you to
cut the asking price later on. This is called
“buying a listing.”
• Agents who work in real estate part
time. If you are a buyer, choose an agent who
actively follows the market every day and can
show you new listings or bid on them immediately. If you are a seller, get an agent who is
always available to show your home to prospective buyers, not someone who considers
real estate a second job.
• Agents who charge a lower commission. Commissions are traditionally 5 to 6
percent. The seller pays the commission,
which is split between the buying and listing
agents. It is not the norm for a buyer to pay
a commission. Fewer agents would be
inclined to show your house if the commission was lower. C
TORI HOROWITZ, David’s daughter
and senior partner at real estate firm
deasy/penner&partners, gives her tips
on using real estate technology.
Online home valuations. Buyers
may look at the valuation of their home
online and have falsely inflated or low
expectations about pricing. No online
algorithm alone can determine accurate pricing of your home. It is imperative for a licensed real estate agent to
give you a pricing opinion.
Online ads. Agents pay to place
ads on real estate sites. Usually they
are offered ad placement in the geographical areas in which they work
most. Ads are sold according to ZIP
code. However, any agent can buy an
ad in any area. Do not choose an agent
based solely on these ads. Research
an agent further.
For sale by owner. You may think
selling your home yourself (by owner)
is a smart way to save a few bucks.
But think twice about this, because
these transactions are very complex.
Any number of bumps in the road
can occur during (or before) escrow.
Title issues, appraisals, physical concerns with a home, necessary repairs,
loan issues and countless other
unforeseen items could potentially
blow a deal if they are not handled
in a skillful way.
A licensed agent who works for a
reputable brokerage will ensure your
interests are protected before, during
and after the sale of your home. Plus,
real estate agents have access to marketing tips; premier ad placement; client lists; relationships with vendors,
inspectors, escrow and title agents; and
many more resources that could aid you
in getting the right and best price for
your house and ensure the process is
a graceful one for all parties. C
Real estate tech tips
David Horowitz is a leading consumer advocate. David’s daughter
Amanda Horowitz is the CEO
of Fight Back! and co-founder of
FightBack.com. Email David and
Amanda at email@example.com.