It can be intimidating to find a reliable real estate agent, sorting through various agent profiles with little sense of who this person is, or how they can help you in your search for the perfect property. A lack of work ethic on the part of an agent can reduce what a seller could get for a property, leave property to sit on the market longer than it should or cause a buyer to pay more for a property than they should. Unfortunately, the truth is that not all real estate agents have a strong work ethic. However, it is my hope that this article for prospective buyers and sellers on the benefits a great agent can provide may remedy this issue.
I have found a way where, with a little research, anyone can connect with fantastic agents. Over the years I have referred several friends and family members to agents in different parts of the country, even in places where I did not know any. My philosophy on finding an agent where I don’t know one has always been the same and it has always done me right; I prioritize agents who put extra effort and work into their listings. This tells me with just a little research who is willing to work hard and who is not.
This is how I look for a great agent. I start by searching for property listings in the area where I need to find one. I am not looking for the property my referral needs to buy, nor am I looking for the agent who has the most listings or sales. I am looking at the listings to see which agents put the extra effort and work into their listings. I want to know if the agent is actually going to work for me (or that friend or family member I am referring to them). Here are some of the things I look for:
- How accurate is the written description of the property?
- Does the description actually describe the property?
- Does the description have important information about the property?
- Is the description length appropriate for the type of property being sold?
- Does the written description tell a story?
- Are there good photographs of the property?
- Did the agent make the effort to get good photographs, like put the toilet lid down, move the laundry, clear the kitchen counter, or pick up the toys?
- Are the photographs professional or quick snaps from the agent’s phone?
- Does the lighting in the photographs allow you to see everything in the picture?
- Are there too many shadows in the photograph?
- Did the agent take the time to mark the property correctly on a mapping program?
- Is the map accurate?
- Are there features present on the property that do not appear on the maps, or vice versa?
- Are significant locations/resources clearly marked?
Looking for the above items is a great way to find an agent who puts the extra work and effort into what they do.
My next test is to call the agent. Do they answer the phone? I actually hope they do not on my first call as I will leave a message, and my next test is to see if and when they call back. I understand that they may be in meetings, training, or out with clients when I call. However, I generally feel they should be able to return my call within 24 hours during the week or on Monday if I call on the weekend. If they don’t call back in that time frame they are off my list. Once I am able to speak with the agent on the phone, I make a judgment as to whether I think I would get along with this person and be able to work with them. I believe having a good relationship with your real estate agent is crucial to making a great deal.
I’d like to tell a quick story on how this method helped me find a great real estate agent for my daughter. My daughter and son-in-law were looking to buy their first home in North Carolina. This is an area where I did not know a single agent but wanted my daughter to have the best help possible. So, after doing the above research on agents in the area, we selected an agent who my daughter thought she could work with. At this particular time, it was a sellers’ market and homes were selling within the first few hours. Both the agent and the buyers needed to be on the ball in order to submit a successful offer on a home.
A home hit the market that my daughter was extremely interested in. Her agent met her at the home, wrote an offer, and got my daughter her first home. The incredible thing was this agent stopped and showed this home to my daughter while she was driving her daughter and brand-new grandchild home from the hospital. Who would really expect that from their agent? I believe finding that agent who had a strong work ethic was key to my daughter getting her first home.
A good agent will be able to market your property in an effective manner. I have seen listings where the property was described as, “Nice three-bedroom two-bathroom house” when the number of bedrooms and bathrooms was already documented in the property description. I have also seen properties listed with incomplete addresses, where there was no way to actually figure out where the property was really located. These shortcomings can significantly impact your ability to buy or sell a property. Some agents post listings on the local MLS (the Multiple Listing Service agents use for other agents to find their listing) and they hope that will sell the property without exerting any more effort. I have also seen agents take a listing out of the general area they work. They then put the listing in their MLS which does not cover the area where the property is located. This means none of the local agents will see this listing. Any of these things could be detrimental to you, the client, and are important to keep in mind when deciding on an agent.
It is imperative that the agent of your choice is capable of effectively marketing your property, or finding relevant properties for you to view. With today’s technology, agents have the means to market properties in ways that go beyond the local MLS. When selling your property, it is important to put your listing in front of potential buyers who are looking at similar properties. If you are selling a farm, ranch, or recreational property, your agent should be able to reach buyers who are looking for that kind of property. If you have a luxury home, your agent should be presenting your property to clients looking for a luxury home, and not just everyone looking in the local MLS. These are ways that a good agent can market your property beyond the listing.
Buying or selling property can be a daunting financial decision. Do you really want to have a lazy agent at the helm of your ship? I would encourage you to do a little research and find someone who is going to work for you. Find a professional who believes and acts like they are working in your best interest and not an agent who looks at you like another listing or another buyer to help.
The good news is there are a lot of really good real estate professionals out there. I cannot say they are all from my company, as every real estate company out there has some really great real estate agents. Which one will you hire? I hope this gives you some ideas on what you can do to find a great agent who will work hard for you.