Ask questions before you hire a real estate agent #709

#709 in a series of true experiences in real estate

What kind of work do you do? Are you good at it? Happy doing it?

Maybe you are a rain gutter specialist, a good one. Probably you know of other gutter people who claim they are experts but aren’t. You would never hire them. How would someone else know that?

They will know once they have had the experience. The job either went right or it went wrong. The trick is to find out before the work.

The reason people hire a specialist in anything is because a specialist sees things other people miss. To find out if you are dealing with a genuine specialist, you ask questions of people who have already used the specialist.

So do this: Before you attach yourself to a specific agent, get the names of at least three fairly recent buyers or sellers the agent has represented. Then contact them.

“Hello, Pat Talbert and Anet Tarpoff gave me your name. I want to sell my house and I’m in the process of choosing an agent.

Then say:

“Did you buy a house or sell one?

What went wrong?

How did it get fixed?

Were you able to reach Pat and Anet when you wanted to? Have you recommended Pat and Anet to anyone else?

You will get a mountain of information by asking these questions. You just won’t believe how much. People like being asked what they think, and they’ll tell you the truth.

Keep in mind that you are looking for an agent who understands and cares about your situation and knows what to do about it. Listen to what people who have experience are saying.

Believe what you are feeling because the agent for you may not fit a formula. For example, high-volume agents hope that you will choose the agent who sells the most. This is the Volume Equals Ability theory, and there is some truth to it. Agents who make a lot of money are doing something right. But it doesn’t necessarily mean that an agent who has done less business is less able.

If you are about to sell your house, you may find it important to hire an agent who knows your neighborhood. You probably will ask how many sales the agent has had there. Be careful. These things are more important than quantity: How many of your listings never sold? How did the sales prices compare with the original prices? How long did the sales take?

If you are a buyer, a not-too-busy agent might be your best choice, someone who has time to really concentrate on you. What you want to know is why this agent isn’t doing a lot of business. Has she lost heart, is tired? Poor choice. Has she transacted enough business lately to be up-to-date with the market and local regulations that may affect you? Better.

Just as in all of life, you will have to judge what’s important to you, then choose someone that you think can help you achieve it.

You are about to embark on something big. Important things are involved. These include life secrets, large amounts of money, and inconvenience.

You won’t know how glad you are that you took the trouble to check out your agent until something goes wrong. Then you find that, cleverly, you have the right person by your side.


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