You don’t have to settle on just any realtor when it comes time for you to buy or sell a home. There are good reasons to select a realtor with exactly the kind of personality and business profile to suit you. Here’s a perspective on the subject from an insider who has knocked around in the business for a while.
When real estate agents are learning their craft through the various training programs that secure them their license, they are told not to worry about what they don’t know. The catch phrase is, “They don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” A sweet sentiment and it’s true. Find a realtor, woman or man, who would seem to care. (And there’s a 60 percent chance that it may be a woman, since that’s the percentage of women in the business).
Of course, it helps for them to know what they don’t know, considering another maxim, which is: “Don’t worry about having to be the source for all information, but you can claim to be the source of the source.”
Most people really don’t choose their realtor. Usually a buyer walks into an office or calls an office that has the listing they’re interested in and ends up with the next agent in line to accept a “walk-in” or “up call” as we call them. When you’re selling, however, the world is your oyster. You can research each agency and their agents in your area of interest.
Some sellers say that they choose the agency that has the most “for sale” signs in their neighborhood. You can be bold, call the office manager and ask for a recommendation of who might be best for the kind of property you have to sell.
During the time of my involvement in real estate sales and development, I have met literally hundreds of realtors, and prejudiced as I may be, I can say that I’ve never really met a dog among them. Almost without exception, realtors are interesting people, self-assured and outgoing, who come to the industry from many different backgrounds. There seems to be a preponderance of former law enforcement officers and teachers who chose real estate as a second career. Certainly you would feel safe and well informed in their company. I happen to be a public relations practitioner and offer that special perspective to getting a home sold.
Age doesn’t matter. There is a case in Westchester where one realtor who recently retired is 92, although I’m told he doesn’t look near that age, and was fully active until his last day in the agency. Rather than age or number of years in the business, consider the sphere of influence of the realtor. There is one highly competent and successfully realtor I know who is a young man, still in his 20s, who has consistently ranked high in sales among realtors in this area. He has the perfect sphere of influence in that he practices in the same community in which he grew up. His many friends from school are now buying their first homes, and their parents are downsizing, so he gets customers on both ends of the home buying cycle.
Think about whether you want a realtor who seems either too busy or too hungry. Obviously a realtor with 25 listings is successful and very busy. If so, ask if he or she has an assistant or two to help with the workload so you don’t get lost in the shuffle. New, hungry realtors are advised to tell a prospective client that they have more time to devote to the sale or search. And, they are probably very well trained in all the new technology that supports the search for a home, or a buyer.
And this may seem simplistic but, while looks don’t matter, an agent who is representing you should look neat and professional.
Because 80 percent of all prospective homebuyers look on the web to find their home, look for an agent who has a good understanding of promoting your property on the web, not only through the multiple listing service, but all the other websites that feature searches for homes, such as Realtor.com and Craigslist.
A realtor who is a good photographer counts too. Look online at other listings the realtor has featured and see how the home is represented photographically, because buyers will see your home that way first. Think of his or her writing skills as well. There is a certain romance that goes with the marketing of the house. Is the copy clean and crisp? Inviting? And, is the word separate spelled correctly (the most common mistake on listings, spelled as seperate)? The MLS doesn’t do spell check.
Full time or part time? When realtors are first getting started, they sometimes hang on to another job as they build their business. Is this a good thing or not? Some sellers have told me they want a full time person on the job, but one of the most successful listers I know was an airline attendant for the first few years of her real estate career and did just fine between flight gigs.
If ending up with a realtor that doesn’t seem to be a good match, you can easily move on. This isn’t a marriage, after all, but what you’re seeking is a good partnership, whether in the buy or sell mode
And the final tip: Look for someone with whom you could see yourself going to dinner. Seriously. I have seen so many friendships formed between client and realtor. My brother-in-law seems to be a professional home buyer. His greatest joy is looking for a new property to own, decorate and landscape. He has bought at least 10 homes, each well over $1 million, from the same realtor. The realtor and her husband are always included in holiday parties, graduations, and just casual dinners.
It’s certainly to the benefit of the realtor to maintain contact with you for your next move, and any other move you make, so start out with someone you’d want to continue hearing from, because you surely will.
Bill Primavera is a Realtor associated with Coldwell Banker and a lifestyles columnist who writes regularly as The Home Guru. Contact him for advice or to buy or sell a home at bill@PrimaveraHomes.com or call him directly at 914-522-2076.