Are you looking to find a local real estate professional to assist you with the acquisition or sale of property but aren’t sure who to work with or how to find a great one?
Here are some helpful tips to help get you started:
Interview as many agents as possible.
Most people will only buy or sell a home or real estate a handful of times during their entire lives and often your property is your largest asset. Such a large decision warrants a thorough vetting process. Take the time to ask your colleagues, friends and family who have recently moved who their real estate agent was. Look around to see who has a presence in your area and contact each agency to schedule a time to speak with you in person.
Have a conversation about whether or not they are a sales agent, associate broker, broker or designated broker and how long they have held that type of license. Ask how long they have been licensed and be sure to verify any disciplinary actions online. Be sure to ask about the types of transactions they have experience with, their market share and volume as well. Ask for their current memberships (Maine Listings, National Association of REALTORS®, local board of REALTOR®, professional designations, etc.) and areas of specialty as well.
Ask who they will be speaking with during their transaction.
Just because the headliner of the real estate team is present at the interview does not mean that will be the point of contact through the rest of the transaction. Ask if it is a team and who will be servicing their file and if they plan to attend the building inspection, appraisal inspection and the closing or if other agents with be accompanying you on those critical dates.
Is the company locally owned and operated or is it a part of a franchise? Who is the owner and designated broker and how long have the agent worked under them? Does their office have a physical location and where is it? Who works there and what hours are they open? Are there administrative assistants who answer the phone or will it be dispatched electronically to the agent’s cell phone? Be sure to ask if each agent is responsible for their own marketing or if they have an in-house marketing department. Visit the company website and look at its information to see if it’s dated or current, view company listings and how they are presented.
How do they handle the referral process of vendors including mortgage lenders, building inspectors, contractors or title companies? Ask how many names they usually provide and who will be responsible for scheduling their services (some agents will handle this while others will provide the contact information to the consumer and allow them to handle it).
What is their availability?
Be sure to ask if they have another job or if they are a full-time agent. If you are interviewing agents for buyer representation, does their availability suit yours? Do they have ongoing obligations or commitments which may limit the times that you can call them? Also ask if they have any vacations scheduled and who will be providing coverage during that time and when you can meet that agent.
Trust your instincts
Glossy marketing materials and elaborately binded files three inches thick may serve a purpose but they can also cloud your judgment. Our industry relies increasingly on technology especially to provide and analyze data but at the core of your transaction there is a lot of psychology and human dynamics at play. Pricing still remains the single largest factor in determining saleability, but you should think twice about going with the agent who gives you the highest price or is simply telling you what you want to hear. If they cannot provide you with the perspective that will inevitably be revealed by the market, how effective will they be in assisting you?
Nicole Foster is a Windham parent and local real estate expert of 13 years and a broker with Locations Real Estate Group in Falmouth.