Often real estate consumers have no way to understand the difference between a real estate agent with professional standards and one that lacks these standards. Even buyers that have bought and sold several times might not have experienced a truly professional agent. They might have had success in a purchase or sale, but since they had no prior experience with a real estate agent they would not know if he or she performed at an excellent, mediocre or even a sub-standard level.
Recently, I attended a talk to hear about what local consumers think of the real estate services they recently received. Their comments made it clear that consumers need help understanding how to recognize when quality real estate services are provided. The following are indicators that the real estate agent you are working with is a true professional on the buyer-side of a transaction.
Attributes of a Professional Buyer-side Real Estate Agent
- They explain the content of the buyer representation agreement so you fully understand it before you sign. They explain what each section of the agreement means, and the pros and cons of having a buyer representation agreement for both parties, which includes legal protections. They also let you know that many terms of the agreement are flexible such as the length of the agreement, the geographical area covered and the types of property researched. Often if you have not found an agent through a trusted referral source, shorter timeframes for the agreement are the best option until you develop a comfort level with your agent.
- They follow the law when it comes to the requirement that you sign a representation agreement or you sign another document agreeing to be unrepresented. This is required by law only if you plan to tour homes in the full range of listed properties and not just homes listed by your real estate agent’s brokerage.
- They take the responsibility of buyer representation seriously. This means they practice confidentiality, advocacy, full disclosure, due diligence and all fiduciary responsibilities that accompany the representation role as defined by the state of CT and stated in the representation agreement.
- They never hold a first meeting with a referred buyer client at a property that is for sale. In other words they don’t meet complete strangers at listed properties unless it is a screened internet lead for a current listing. This is to ensure the safety of buyers and real estate agents; and it ensures that the buyer gets the benefit of an important educational consultation before touring property and making any major decisions.
- They conduct a buyer consultation session with every new buyer customer, which covers what representation means, your personal lifestyle goals, the pre-qualification process, the buying process, market information, your budget, time frame to buy, the type of home you are looking for, your specific list of “must-haves” and also the home attributes you are more flexible about having.
- They possess knowledge about the geographical area where you are looking for a property. Such knowledge includes neighborhood attributes, community development, economic conditions, the business climate, arts and culture, park and school locations, etc.
- They always review sold and active comparable properties (similar properties in similar neighborhoods) with you before making an offer. They teach you the process for determining market value and they explain the difference between market value and appraisal value.
- They have tested negotiation techniques, and they adjust negotiation strategies based upon supply, demand and scarcity of the property you want to buy.
- They ask you about the communication vehicles that you prefer at specific times of day and in specific circumstances; and they act according to your communication preferences.
- They are on top of new listings and they work with your schedule to tour properties in a reasonable amount of time.
- They have a quick response time to your phone calls and emails.
- Unless otherwise agreed upon, they stick to showing you properties that are in your budget and possess the items on your “must-have” list.
- They are in frequent communication with your buyer transaction team, copying you and them on important emails and checking in with your attorney, mortgage brokers, contractors, management companies, etc. to make sure everyone is on the same page and performing their jobs as expected all the way through to the closing and often beyond. They also can refer you to trusted professionals to complete your transaction team.
- They ask for referrals since they know this is the lifeline of their business and they want more consumers to have the benefit of professional real estate services.
- They keep in touch with you well after the transaction and offer resources to assist you with being a satisfied and knowledgeable property owner.
Am I missing anything? Let me know what other traits you really like to see in a great real estate agent.