20 Tips for Hiring a Realtor (Elkhart, Mishawaka, South Bend)

Buying or selling a home is no small act, it is emotional and stressful for many reasons. This is why finding a real estate agent with experience to guide you through the process is crucial.

The best realtor for you is an experienced professional who listens, conducts themselves ethically, and knows your market. Finding this realtor takes time, but picking your agent carefully will pay off in the end.

Here are some of the tips that will assist you when it comes to finding the best realtor for you.

What percentage of your clients are buyers vs sellers?

Some realtors work primarily with either buyers or sellers. On many teams, there are designated buyer agents and listing agents. Whereas it is good to know one thing well, it can also lead to a restricted perspective.

How well can an agent be expected to know what a seller may be thinking if they only worked with buyers, or vice versa? Not only that, but should you be looking to dispose of your current property and purchase another, the transactions will be much more seamless should the agent be able to oversee the entire process.

In which neighborhoods do you primarily work?

You will likely encounter agents who are neighborhood experts and others who will cover larger areas. It is advisable to find someone who works both in and around your main area of interest.

The internet now allows agents a better understanding of a larger territory. This doesn’t necessarily mean they can cover an entire state while maintaining intimate knowledge of local markets.

Will I be working with you directly?

It is always important to find out whether an agent/realtor will handle all aspects of your transaction or will they delegate some tasks.

An experienced associate can be invaluable, but you want to make sure you can connect with your agent regularly.

One benefit of working with a team is a wider pool of experience, a higher intimate knowledge base of specific situations as opposed to others. However, for the duration of the transaction, the contact person(s) should be disclosed upfront.

Do you work full or part-time as a real estate agent?

Full-time agents are likely to give you as a home buyer or seller more time and attention. Make sure your realtor is a full-time agent, not someone doing it on the side as a hobby.

How many homes have you closed in my neighborhood?

You should also look for a real estate agent who’s familiar with the neighborhood you’re buying or selling in. Someone who knows the area better is going to be more familiar with its pros and cons, and subsequently how to use those factors to your advantage.

How many other buyers or sellers are you representing now?

It is a common thought that the busiest agents often are the most efficient. Though having said that, if your agent is working with a high volume of clients, find out how they plan to counteract a situation should you need additional support. Is there a team member (if a team exists) who can help?

Is your license in good standing?

You should verify an agent’s certification with your state’s Department of Real Estate. Many states provide this information online.

What experience and level of education do you have? 

An agent with at least four years experience shows a dedication to the profession and an ample opportunity to acquire a good sense of the market.

As far as education goes, agents are required by law to take classes to keep their license in good standing. A well educated and experienced agent will give you good service.

An agent who has seen many different situations is less likely to be rattled should any bumps be encountered in transactions.

Are you a broker, a realtor or an agent?

A real estate agent is a licensed professional who has to take an exam in order to sell and buy homes on behalf of a client.

Agents have the option of becoming a real estate brokers by taking a brokers’ license exam and completing any education required by the state.

By law, a realtor, is a member of the National Association of Realtors. This is a specific group that has their own set of standards.

These rules include disclosing any potential conflicts of interest, not interfering in a transaction and disclosing all fees and commissions ahead of time.

A realtor is always an agent or a broker, but an agent or broker is not necessarily a realtor. Ask any potential real estate agents if they’re also realtors.

Can you provide me with references of past clients? 

Insights from past clients can help you gain more knowledge about an agent and give you a greater ease in your transactions.

Clearly, agents will not hand out information for clients who hated them, so take what they say with a grain of salt. Ask specific, open-end questions based on your priorities.

Are your fees negotiable?

All real estate agent compensation is negotiable. There are various ways to proceed, from a flat fee to a traditional percentage of the sales price.

If you are creative and have an idea on compensation, discuss with your agent and see what you can come up with.

What is the current market value of my house? And why?

This question will give you an understanding of the agent’s knowledge of the real estate market and their thought process in pricing.

An experienced realtor will refer to recent market data, the current pool of comparable homes on the market, your home’s condition and amenities in giving you an answer.

Agents who rely solely on value based on computer generated data are no better than a Tom, Dick or Harry across the street, you don’t want their service?

Can you give me a written CMA and a list of homes currently on the market?

All agents should be able to give you a written comparative market analysis (CMA). This report will tell you a lot about the agent and their knowledge of the market. This will further advise you on whether this will be the agent for you or not.

What is your advertising and marketing plan for my house?

A blend of online and offline marketing will reach a broader range of buyers or sellers. Know the mode and frequency of advertising and any open houses. There should at least be an open house for other agents or brokers, especially those representing buyers. Photos and videos done by professionals will also be a good idea.

Moreover, ask to see sample marketing materials before distribution. All agents will list your home in the local MLS and their website. You also want to know what else will be done, compare it all to the marketing plan & materials of other agents.

How often will you communicate with me?

Preferably, your realtor should be in touch with you regularly, updating you with any new information or concerns. All offers must be relayed to you. They should have email and be reachable most of the time should you have a question or concern.

Why should I hire you over your competition?

One question you want to ask a realtor is, ‘What is their competitive advantage?’ If your realtor doesn’t offer any competitive advantages or doesn’t know a way in which they can offer you one, move on.

What questions do you have for me?

This is a very important, if not the most important question you will ask. It is the true determination of your realtors’ mindset and priorities.

Any person can ask how much you want to sell your house for or how many rooms you want in your new home. If a realtor takes the time to get to know you, your goals and your priorities, this is an excellent indicator that they are setting a foundation of client-centered service.

How will you negotiate on my behalf?

Whether your realtor is helping you buy or sell, they should have strong negotiating skills. Buying and selling real estate involves professionalism and a win-win attitude.

A win-win situation is different for every buyer and seller. It’s all about examining the situation, evaluating it, and determining the best move forward.

What if I’m unhappy with a realtor’s services?

At any point, your agent should allow you the opportunity to work with someone else. You should not be forced into a working relationship if you find out you’re not happy with it.

Asking this question gives you an opportunity to discuss what may need to happen in order to leave the contract you signed with your realtor.

When you hire a realtor, you are their client. They should be primarily concerned with your needs, not how much they will earn on commission or how quickly they can close the deal.

If you’re feeling ignored at any point in the process, don’t be afraid to walk away.

Do you have a website and/or blog?

Visit the realtors’ website to get a sense of the agent and what they stand for. Some agents don’t have blogs so don’t hold it against them. If they do, visit and read their posts and comments.

This will give you (to an extent) insights into the agent’s persona, skill, among other things.

With these few tips, have a stress free process of house buying or selling.

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Kevin Foy & Nick Foy

Team Foy with RE/MAX Oak Crest Realty

Text or Call – 574-387-2501

Email – Nick@TeamFoy.com

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