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Finding the Right Agent to Represent You!

Dear Kathe,

We have our home listed with another agent and are unhappy with the service we are receiving. We can’t help but wonder what process we should have gone through to find the right agent. Any ideas?

When choosing a Realtor, it’s important to do more research than asking a colleague, friend or service provider who they would recommend. I often help my clients find an agent in the new city they are moving to, and I start online.

First, I look for agents who do a lot of business in the area my client is moving to. How many listings does the agent have? I look at her sold listings on Zillow and see how many she has sold, both in the area and in the price range my clients will be buying into to make sure she has the experience they will need.

I then look at her individual website for her certifications and qualifications. These credentials require extensive commitment to training by the agent, and training means the agent is best equipped to achieve the very best result for you.  Much of this training requires years of dedication to learning and excellence.  All agents are not brokers, for example.  An Associate Broker’s license takes a minimum of three years commitment to additional learning and hands on experience. If you are buying or selling a Signature home, there is an even higher level of training available to an agents such as Distinctive Homes Specialist.  Christie’s Great Estates Specialist.  These programs add yet another level of  skill and expertise to an agent’s repertoire.

I like to say “a monkey can stick a sign in your yard.”  It takes years of training and experience though to sell real estate while making it look smooth and easy.  By earning credentials, we learn how to price optimally, how to market strategically, how to use the latest technology for your benefit, the complex ins and outs of our lengthy Agreement of Sale (the intricacies of which are just waiting to ensnare the inexperienced), how to negotiate for success, how to navigate the rough seas of inspections and how to close on time.  Every one of these skills inures directly to your benefit and your bottom line.

I also look to see how developed her website is (is it more than a simple blurb) and how many reviews/ quality of reviews she has on Zillow. This gives a sense of how committed the agent is to the business.

Finally, I interview the prospective agents to determine marketing plans, detailed knowledge of the area and their personal market statistics.   So take the time – get to know our credentials – and make an educated decision when choosing your next real estate agent.

How Important is Technology?

What are quickly changing world we live in!  You probably haven’t stopped to reflect upon the fact that just over ten years ago, real estate was still being sold from those big books that looked like phone books.  We agents would flip through the pages in search of prospective homes for our buyers and listing agents had to get creative to get the word out about new listings while we waited for the next addition of the book to arrive!

Today, 90% of buyers use the internet to shop for their new home.  While more buyers (40%) found the home they eventually purchased through their agent as opposed to finding it themselves on the internet (35%), most buyers actually started their search on the internet several weeks before contacting an agent.

The availability of information to home buyers has slowed down the home search process – the opposite of what you might have guessed.  Because there is so much information that buyers can discover about homes on the internet, the typical home search has nearly doubled in length as buyers take time to do their due diligence.

While Buyers rank Realtor’s as the most useful source of information (81%), Buyers are heavily influenced by the materials available on the internet about a home. Among the most important items buyers seek and expect to fin on potential listings are multiple photos (84%), detailed property information (82%) and virtual tours (63%).

What does this mean for you when you plan to sell?  Gone are the days when a sign in the yard is all you needed.  In order to stack up well against competing listings, your home needs to present well to prospective buyers on the internet.  Wonderful photos, a lot of relevant and helpful information and a visual tour are all key in drawing buyers to your home and maintain their interest long enough to request a showing.  So before you list your home, check out your prospective agent’s other listings and see how they stack up against the competition.  Make sure you trust your home sale to an agent who is using technology to your best advantage