Thinking about buying or selling a home? Before you pick a real estate agent, arm yourself with a little knowledge about what he or she should handle. Whether you find an agent online or take your sister’s coworker’s Aunt Suzy up on her offer, this article will ensure you get the most out of the experience.
Here are nine things a good real estate agent should do for you:
1. Be Available to You.
The first thing a real estate agent needs to be is accessible. Calls and emails should be answered ASAP, and communication should be clear and easy. If you don’t get a response by the end of the day, find another agent.
2. Handle All Scheduling.
Your agent should schedule listing appointments for any properties you express interest in. He or she should also show you similar listings, off-market listings, and exceptional properties in another area that might work even better for your needs. If you can’t be there in person, your agent should walk you through the listings on FaceTime, and send pictures and video recaps with additional detail.
3. Help You Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage.
If you don’t have a lender, your agent should be able to connect you with one. It’s a good practice for both client and agent to secure mortgage pre-approval before looking at listings; This gives your agent an accurate picture of your budget, while showing him or her that you’re a serious buyer.
4. Educate You on the Market.
Your agent should know the local market inside and out, advise you on the best properties for your budget and goals, and share details on comps to manage expectations about pricing.
5. Have a Marketing Plan.
Whether your agent is solo or on a team, independent or at a major brokerage, make sure he or she is prepared to market your listing to the fullest. Take a look at past listings, or ask him or her to share how they marketed a recent listing in a similar budget. Your agent is the person who comes up with open house ideas, runs social media ads, oversees photography and video tours, and promotes your listing to buyers; Make sure he or she has a good aesthetic eye, creative ideas, and knows how to run a full-scale marketing campaign.
6. Close the Deal.
Yes, you want a star negotiator who can get you the best price, but you need someone creative and experienced enough to close a deal when things get difficult. When sellers have second thoughts or want to change the terms of the agreement, a great agent will find a solution, make a concession, or come up with a compromise. A tough negotiator is great, but what you really need is an agent who has been there, done that, and can close any deal with some creativity and quick thinking.
7. Manage the Inspection.
Any agent can recommend a local home inspector, but a great agent should recommend the best local home inspector. You need an inspector who is independent, experienced, and competent, who will catch every issue and bring all of the details to your attention. Your agent should also attend the inspection and fully explain the implications of the findings—including going to bat for you to get a price reduction or other concession from the seller when warranted.
8. Streamline the Closing.
Your agent will be there to see you through the closing. He or she is the one who will make sure documents are signed, money is transferred, and keys and deeds are turned over.
9. Connect You to Vendors.
Need a handyman or interior decorator? Want to know where to get the best burger in your new neighborhood? Ask your agent. As an expert in his or her market, a good agent will have a variety of local recommendations to send your way.