Life in Portland

What to Consider When Choosing a Real Estate Agent

Rocky Balboa: The Heart of a Champion.

Rocky Balboa: The Heart of a Champion.

It Pays to Have a Champion in Your Corner

Buying a home can be a daunting undertaking, and not only because it may be the largest investment you’ll ever make. Selling can be equally challenging; it may be the biggest deal you ever attempt to close.

Few of us dip our toes into the real estate market on a regular basis, and whether you’re buying or selling, there’s a lot riding on that one transaction.

As a seller, pricing your home is a delicate balancing act: you don’t want to leave money on the table, but you don’t want to set your price too high, either, or your home may end up languishing on the market indefinitely. And the longer it sits, the more the novelty wears off for prospective buyers.

As a buyer, you want to make sure you’re getting the best deal possible, and to do that, you may end up needing a shrewd negotiator on your side. It doesn’t hurt to have someone to help you stay ahead of the curve.

Who do you call when you want to ensure a smooth and enjoyable real estate transaction? A real estate agent, of course! But it seems like everyone and their grandmothers have real estate licenses these days. So how do you separate the experts from the dilettantes, and find a real estate agent you can truly rely on?

Tap Your Network

Time to Dust Off the Ol' Rolodex

Time to Dust Off the Ol' Rolodex

Chances are good that someone in your network has bought or sold a home recently. Ask around for a referral. If your friends have an agent who they really enjoyed working with, then chances are good that you’ll like that agent as well.

Work With a Specialist

Obviously, you’ll want to choose a real estate agent who’s familiar with the market where you’re buying or selling. But being familiar with the city might not be enough. You’re better off going with an agent who has a history of success with transactions just like yours: similar price range, same neighborhood, same property type, etc.

Check the Track Record

A good real estate agent takes pride in his or her work, and should be more than willing to provide you with a list of recent deals. Peruse that list to make sure your agent is a good fit. How do the selling prices compare to the listing prices? How long did the properties stay on the market?

Many agents will have reviews online. See what former clients have to say about working with potential candidates. Don’t discount an agent for one or two mixed reviews if the rest are overwhelmingly positive, but if there’s a trend of negative reviews, look out. And remember: some great agents fly under the Internet radar, so be sure not to discount a fabulous agent with great references, just because they aren’t Yelpified!

Cruise the Neighborhood

Here’s a great strategy for choosing a real estate agent: get in your car and cruise around the neighborhood. If you see a Realtor, cat-whistle politely and offer him or her a ride. Just kidding! Don’t do that.

Location Is Everything... In More Ways Than One

Location Is Everything... In More Ways Than One

You’re looking for “for sale” signs. If you notice that one firm in particular has a lot of signs up in your neighborhood, it’s a strong indication that they’re well versed in local real estate transactions and will be a goldmine of information on the immediate area.

Ask for References

Ask potential agents for a list of former clients who you can contact to ask about their experiences. These references might be the cream of the crop, but if they’re all breathlessly positive about their experiences, it’s a pretty good sign. 

Don’t Get Highballed

Some listing agents might try to snag your business by overestimating the potential selling price for your home. If one of the agents you interview provides a figure that is much higher than other estimates, they might be blowing smoke in an attempt to get the job. It can be tempting to sign with the agent who aims high, but remember: pricing your home too high is a bad thing in any market.

Audition the Candidates

Don't Be Afraid to Audition Your Future Realtor

Don't Be Afraid to Audition Your Future Realtor

Have you ever seen a movie where bad casting ruined the whole thing? Well, hire the wrong real estate agent, and you might experience a similar feeling. Don’t just go with the first agent you talk to. Audition two to three to find the right actor for the role.

Ask the Right Questions

When interviewing real estate agents, asking the right questions can help you separate the standouts from the rest of the pack. Ask how many listings they’ve completed in the last year. And of those, ask how many were similar to the one you’re trying to close.

Inquire about how the agent will go about finding homes for you if you’re a buyer, and if you’re a seller, then ask for a breakdown of how the agent will market your home.

Go for Simpatico

There’s a lot riding on a real estate transaction, so you want to work with an agent you trust. Bona fides, reviews, and track records all being equal, a personal connection might be the tiebreaker. It’s hardly scientific, but if you just get a “good feeling” from one of the candidates, then you’ll probably have an easier time trusting them.

Communicate Your Expectations

Strong Communication: The Essence of Any Solid Relationship

Strong Communication: The Essence of Any Solid Relationship

Some real estate clients want daily contact, while others want to be left alone until a noteworthy development comes up. Some prefer text messages or emails, while others like phone calls. Whatever your communication style, make sure your agent is on-board – remember, you’re going to be talking a lot, especially when you get closer to finishing the deal.

Choose Wisely

Having a great real estate agent can make all the difference when buying or selling a home, and we hope these tips help you pick a winner. Oh, and if you’re looking for a great agent in Portland, Oregon, we hope you’ll give the agents at Urban Nest an opportunity to earn your business. Thanks for reading!

[Photos Via: Office; Pascagoula; winnipesaukeeplayhouse; Blogspot]