What are the pitfalls of choosing a real estate agent too quickly? Should I hire the first real estate agent I meet? Why should I interview a real estate agent before buying or selling a home?

Sooner or later you may need the services of a real estate agent to purchase a property or to sell a property.  Many people choose real estate agents based on familiarity/comfort rather than looking at the real estate agents qualifications and whether the real estate agent actually suits their needs.  Unfortunately, talking on a real estate agents blog for a few months or meeting a real estate agent at an open house for few minutes is not a guarantee that you will receive the type service you are actually looking for. What are the pitfalls and things you may want to know… if you choose a real estate agent too quickly?

Personality clash – Lets face it, some people in life can rub you the wrong way as you get to know them. Of course, this goes both ways, clients rub real estate agents the wrong way and real estate agents rub the clients the wrong way. Rather than suffering it out, seek to mutually break your contract if the person is driving you crazy and you are about to lose your cool. 

Promotion/Marketing – Does the real estate agent attend showings? What are they saying about your home behind your back?   If a potential buyer makes negative comments is the agent just agreeing with the negative comments or coming back with positive spin instead?  How your real estate agent responds to negative comments about your home can make or break a potential sale.  

How does a real estate agent plan to advertise your home? MLS only? Free websites?  Advertising budgets and promotion vary from agent to agent.

Best price – Getting the best price really depends on how good the agent is and whether it is a buyers or sellers market. In a hotter sellers market some real estate agents are more concerned about getting the quickest sale possible rather than getting you a good price.  Others may not have the experience how to price the type of home you have or how to price a home in a quickly rising market. Recommended selling prices can vary 100k or more in a sellers market.  In a buyers market, you have to be aware of your competitors prices and may have to adjust your price expectations accordingly.

Listening/understanding needs – Does the real estate agent take time to listen to you?  Answer your questions and go over things with you?  Is the agent taking you to see the type of properties you are looking for in your price range?  

Level of service provided/assistants – What level of service are you expecting? Real estate agents provide various levels of service.  Some you can contact directly via cell phone, others you have to call the real estate office and have them paged, others may have assistants, etc. Some popular real estate agents may only offer personal assistance once or twice and then you may be passed onto their assistants instead. These assistants may be competent or incompetent, been in the business for a few years or a newbie with limited experience.   

Commissions – Are negotiable and not carved in stone.  Some real estate agents will negotiate their commissions, others will not.  Don’t end up like one of my friends who verbally negotiated 25% off the commission rate, only to have the real estate agent back out of the deal because it was not in writing.

General communication – How does the agent communicate with you in general? Are you met with insults or you don’t know what your talking about, if you bring up a real estate news story?  Are they polite or in a big hurry? Do they return your calls or does it take hours and you have to keep calling them back instead? Is the agent always on their cell phone while showing you homes?  If they are not listening to what you are saying about the homes during showings, how will they be able to help you find the right home you are looking for?

Remember…

Whether buying or selling a home take the time to interview at least three real estate agents. Don’t hesitate to ask questions and make sure any verbal agreements are in writing. Pay attention to the number of negative and positive comments made.  Does one outweigh the other?  Is this the type of agent you wish to hire?

If you are not sure how to interview a real estate agent or need further tips on questions you should ask, please google:

How to interview a real estate agent when buying a house 

or 

How to interview a real estate agent when selling a house

Please note: I didn’t provide specific links to websites, because each person has their own comfort level on what information they may want to know and how tough they want those questions to be.

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5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. coconews
    Nov 13, 2008 @ 15:11:46

    Do you or someone you know hire a real estate agent too quickly? How did it turn out?

    Sometimes even when you think you gotten to know a real estate agent it turns out differently then you expected. Here is a sad story from a friend of mine:

    Brother passed away. One of his friends was a real estate agent. Real estate agent befriended the sister who was close to the same age. Real estate agent hung out socially with the sister on a weekly basis for one year. Family decided to list brothers home through the real estate agent because the agent was so nice and a friend. Once house was sold and commission changed hands, the real estate agent refused to return any telephone calls/emails. Not a true friend, just an agent courting a commission.

    (It’s unfortunate that people have to take advantage of others who are grieving for the sake of the old mighty dollar)

  2. coconews
    Nov 13, 2008 @ 16:07:14

    Some of you may have noticed all the “ping backs” posted earlier. This is a notification when another blog links to this blog.

    This thread is popular and too many other blogs were linking to it all at once, taking up too much space in the comment section here. I deleted all the ping backs for now to let the bloggers have a chance to make comments and discuss the thread.

    Thank you
    Coco

  3. Anna
    Nov 13, 2008 @ 16:51:44

    Friends of ours decided to use the top agent in our area to buy a house. The agent showed them houses twice and then ponded them off on her assistant. The assistant took them out twice. They decided to switch agents because the assistant lacked experience they were looking for and in their words was a bubble head.

  4. tom
    Nov 13, 2008 @ 17:20:23

    If your client disappears from the radar screen, keeps making excuses or decides to use another realtor out of the blue, the problem may lie with your assistant and not with your clients lack of commitment as so many realtors generally think.

  5. Andrew
    Aug 08, 2011 @ 11:20:31

    A good question to ask your Realtor is how many properties they have viewed on average in a week for example. If they haven’t walked through other houses that are in your homes price range it makes it harder to price your home. There are lots of aspects to the Realtor(R) job and pricing your home correctly is just one of many responsibilities. Even marketing your home is a small aspect of selling your home. It is vital that you trust your Realtor(R)!

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