Before I really delved into the real estate industry, I remember feeling like real estate agents were kind of elusive. What do they really do, anyway? Eat Doritos on the couch all day, and sell a few houses at night? Sounds like a pretty sweet gig.
Ha. Just kidding. I’ve come to learn that being a real estate agent is one of the most undervalued, challenging jobs out there. It’s really like starting your own business: it’s high risk, time consuming, and involves a lot of personal investment. Once you do start making some sales, it’s still a continuous fight for business (aka, money for frivolous expenses like eating and paying your electric bill). Again. Joking.
So what’s that mean for you, as a homebuyer? It means that agents are constantly fighting your attention, and your business. This fight equates to lots of people who are willing to do anything to get your business. And that means that you, as a consumer, should ask the right questions, and make sure that whomever you’re dealing with for the biggest financial transaction of your life is someone who will advocate for you.
1- Call Three
I don’t care how great your mom said her agent was. Call three. Or even better, meet three. Ask them questions, get a feel for their communication style and see who you mesh with. Get to know them, ask why they got into real estate, and what they enjoy about working with buyers like you. This person will be working closely with you for several months, make sure you like who they are and what they stand for.
2-Ask about the broker
Who the heck is the broker? In the state of Texas, all real estate agents have to work under a broker. Brokers have more education and experience, and take a small portion of each sale that the agent makes. Why do they matter? Because they’re who stands behind your agent. Ask about the broker your agent works for. Find out how long they’ve been in business, and why they chose that broker. Agents who work for brokerages with a good company culture will have the benefit of multiple agents working to help you. Steer clear of brokers where the agents treat the real estate market like a battle field.
3- Never let someone else choose for you
I recently had a buyer tell me he would let his company choose his agent for him because he would get a cash-back kickback. UGH! Why would you want a strange, random person representing you in such an important transaction? A few measly dollars back would never be worth getting stuck with someone you aren’t comfortable with, misses deadlines, or never answers your questions. And if it’s THAT big of a deal, chances are the right agent can match that kickback. Never let your agent-buyer relationship be like an arranged marriage.
4- How do you stay in communication with your clients?
This question is a BIG ONE. If you have a good agent, much of the dotting i’s and crossing t’s will be done behind the scenes and you’ll never know. But much of the process will have specifics that you need to know about. Ask your realtor how they communicate. Are they going to shoot you a text every 2 weeks? Will they text you, not call, about important issues? The way your realtor communicates with you and helps you keep track of the details is extremely important, and shows how well they stay organized in the process.
5- Be Loyal
So you found an awesome agent. They’re going to stick by you, and be your partner in crime through this process. Okay hopefully there aren’t any crimes during this, but you get the picture. So be loyal to them. Did you know that your agent can show you ANY home, can sell ANY home, and has access to every listed property in your area? Once you’ve found your agent, stick by them. If you go to an open house, tell them realtor there you have an agent. If you drive by your dream home and it says FOR SALE, call your agent, not the person on the sign. Remember, not all agents are created equal. A good agent’s hard work and dedication to your success and happiness should always be repaid with your respect and your loyalty.
Happy House Shopping Homebuyers!