How to Hire a REALTOR: 4 Simple Questions

A few months back, I wrote about why you should consider hiring a realtor if you plan to buy or sell a home. What I neglected to mention was how to hire a realtor. Like anything, if you’ve never done it before, it’s hard to be an expert out of the gate.

Briefly, here’s a reminder on why to hire a realtor.

  1. Licensed real estate agents have a fiduciary responsibility to deal honestly and in the best interest of the principal (you) — this is not just an ethical responsibility, it’s a legal one.
  2. Win-Win. It’s in your realtor’s best interest to help you meet your goal, because realtors only get paid if you get what you want – a completed transaction.
  3. realtors know their stuff and can save you time and money. Just ask people in the industry, because they hire realtors.  Even lenders and people in related industries with the knowledge to do the work themselves feel it’s worthwhile to hire realtors. To the extreme, when I want to list or buy property I use a realtor other than myself.

So, how can you pick a good realtor? First, talk to your friends and neighbors to find out whom they’ve used and would recommend—and maybe more importantly whether there is anyone they would not recommend. Ask your insurance agent, your accountant, your attorney and your local banker, too. These professionals understand the economics of real estate and are likely to have a valuable opinion on the subject.

The realtor you ultimately choose to engage in a business relationship needs to be someone with whom you can have a personal relationship. It’s critically important that your search not be a popularity contest, because we’re talking about dealing with hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Before you pick up the phone to talk to any of the potential realtors on your list, make sure they have integrity, a good reputation, and are well connected to all kinds of information. By the end of the interview, you should be really comfortable (hopefully even impressed) with answers to these questions.

  1. Does their communication style work for you? Do they use all the communication tools you like (e.g., cell phone, text, email, even that old fashioned standby face-to-face)? Are they available on weekends or during evenings? How long do they usually take to respond to questions?
  2. Do they have the expertise to meet your needs? When measuring expertise, pay attention to years and type of experience, as well as professional designations as realtor (instead of simply real estate agent). Some realtors even have additional education like GRI (Graduate, Realtor Institute) or CRS (Certified Residential Specialist).
  3. Do they have the capacity to take you on as a client? Although the agent may have wonderful credentials, it is important to find out about their current workload. Can they give you the time and attention you need to buy or sell a property on your timeline?
  4. Do they have the technical tools to do the job right? In this world of constant communication and electronic marketplaces, can your realtor excel? Do they or their company have a mobile app? Website? Blog? Access to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS)? Franchise affiliation with impressive online networks?

In addition to answering all these questions to your satisfaction, was the realtor organized? If you plan to list your house for sale, did the realtor come with a marketing plan, a market value analysis of your property, and information about themselves and their company? If you want to buy a home, did the realtor review prospective contracts and walk you through what to expect at each point in the buying process?

If you responded positively to all these questions, you’re probably in great shape. When it’s all said and done, the realtor you choose should be someone you trust and get along with, and someone who has the expertise, capacity, and company support to accomplish your objectives.

Next time I’ll write about how to hire a lender. If there’s something you would like me to write about or if you have questions about real estate or property management, feel free to contact me at rselzer@selzerrealty.com or visit our website at www.realtyworldselzer.com. Dick Selzer is a real estate broker who has been in the business for more than 35 years.

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