How to Choose a Realtor (take 2)

I was asked recently to write an article for the “Ask the Expert” column for The HooK. The first time, I wrote a decent, un-opinonated column. One could call it “pedantic.” It wasn’t me. It was ok, but writing from a non-biased voice other than my own is difficult, especially if one doesn’t do it frequently. With practice, I will get better. I don’t have it in me to effectively and honestly conceal my opinions. So – “Take 2” of “How to Choose a Realtor” is below the fold.

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Not everybody has it as easy as I did –  when I bought my first home, I chose my mother who has been a Realtor for at least twenty years to represent me. How do you pick a Realtor if you do not already have a built-in Realtor? Pick someone you trust. Someone you feel will look after your best interests, someone who won’t be afraid to go to the mat for you. Someone who has the reputation and integrity to back up his or her promises.

There are at least 1200 Realtors in the CharlAlbemarle area – how do you pick one that won’t turn what should be a happy occasion into a horror story with which you regale your friends for years to come? Hint: the best person might not be your best friends’ sister/fiance/brother. Sometimes, having a safe buffer between friends and business relationships is a good thing. Other times, it can work out well.

Ask your friends. Ask your co-workers if they know a good Realtor (or a not-so-good Realtor). Find out what is important to you in a Realtor. Ask questions – lots of questions – about his or her time in the business, his production level, the number of clients he carries at a time, the ratio of buyers to sellers with whom he works. Assess whether he values and respects your time (and his) – is he punctual? Does he present himself in a professional manner? Is he knowledgeable about not just the overall real estate market, but emerging trends and the trends in your specific market? Assess whether your candidate answers your probing and inane questions with ease, or whether he or she sweats a little. Does he or she use technology effectively? Does he have his own website, or is he a part-timer with a generic web-email account?

Will you be working with that Realtor, or will you be relegated to only contact with member of their team?

A good Realtor will not merely chauffeur you around from house to house. A good Realtor will go above and beyond the call of duty to ensure that the clients’ needs (and frequently wants) are met.

While sitting at your kitchen table or in the Realtor’s car – ask yourself – can I imagine spending several months working with this person?

Do your homework. You are seeking to hire someone who will be representing you in the single largest investment you will ever make.

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