More than 60% of home sellers choose the first agent that visits their home. Wow! Does that mean the majority of real estate agents are great? People are so blown away with the sales presentations and marketing plans they need look no further? I would say, NO. As much as that statistic would make my day if I could somehow find the way to be the first one to home sellers’ doors; I don’t believe the majority of agents are “great” or “outstanding” . I would suggest that more than likely, the public is not aware of what makes the difference between a good agent and a great agent until they are well into the sales process and they’re already under contract. Because buying or selling a home isn’t usually something done with frequency, how would one know what they SHOULD expect? Well, I think as a Realtor, I’m in a unique position to give an idea of what separates bad, good, and great agents. Why? Because I’ve heard a lot of complaints and even nightmare stories over the years. I have heard the shortcomings of agents as well as some spectacular acts of service. Let me share with you a little bit about what I believe home sellers & buyers should expect from an agent.
1. Do they make you feel comfortable in their presence? That may seem like an odd requirement but buying or selling is a big transaction. Don’t work with someone that you don’t feel comfortable with. You should feel like they are trustworthy, that they have your interest in mind. They should be listening to you and asking you questions to find out your needs. Trust your instincts.
2. Do they have a plan? There’s a little differentiation here between buyers and sellers. For buyers – the agent should be asking what your “dream list” is and be taking notes. They should be getting to know you and what is important to you and offer to put together an automatic search for you. They should be flexible with times that work for you – that is not saying they’re going to clear their schedule the next day and make you their only priority. They should offer you information on the community; events, schools, etc. Sellers should find that an agent comes to their first appointment well prepared and professional. They should already have done background work on your home’s information. They should have printed or online material about themselves, and the company they represent, ready for you. A great agent should be able to walk through your home and point out the pluses and also those little things you may want to change to make your home more sale-able. They should be able to sit down and specifically give you a marketing plan for your home – don’t settle for someone who just says they have a great marketing plan. You should be able to see it in black and white right there. It should involve a multi-faceted approach – online (websites, FB, MLive), print, etc. Find out if they’re a member of your local board of Realtors. If you live near a county border, be sure they’re a member of the neighboring board too, or at least have guest listing privileges there. You need to make sure it will be listed in both places.
3. What is their route of communication? One of the biggest complaints from sellers that I hear is, “They stuck a sign in my yard and I never heard from them again”. That should never happen. You should have some type of weekly interaction. Even if there hasn’t really been an event for them to report, they should be calling or emailing (your preference) about what stage they’re at in their marketing plan and what they plan to do differently the next week. A buyer’s agent should be auto sending new and reduced listings any day they appear and also keep in touch with your situation to be sure nothing has changed.
4. Are they full service? This is a time where not every brokerage out there is full service. You will find discount agencies. Note: THERE’S A REASON they’re called a discount agency. They will not be handling all the details for you – before a contract, nor during, nor after. I had my first encounter with working with a discount broker last year. I had a buyer who was interested in a home that was listed with a discount broker. It was a flat fee company that put a sign in the yard and listed it on the MLS and that was about it. We went to make an offer and were told to work directly with the seller. The seller was absolutely confused, they were also not prepared to negotiate with an expert negotiator (me). They ended up walking away – their agent was not even aware. Three weeks later their agent called to find out the status of the deal only to find we’d purchased another home. Be sure your agent is full service! Be sure you sign a contract so they are legally representing YOUR best interests; whether you are a buyer or seller.
To wrap it up; a bad agents tend to be pushy and hard-sell, most likely impatient, and want you to decide everything at that moment; a good agent will say they know your area, be professional, list your home on the MLS and some websites. A great agent will prove they know your area, show you their plan, come prepared, take time to listen and answer all your questions regardless of the lengthy number, list your home with a multi-faceted marketing approach, stay in communication, and make you feel like you are in the hands of an expert – because you are.