Who you hire really matters. The people that you choose to help you in your real estate journey…matter. And it's not always easy to figure out who really knows their stuff.
An agent's stats/numbers can give you good insight on their activity in the marketplace, but those are not sole indicators that will translate to your success. The greatest factors that makes an agent good is their proficiency in the contracts, data interpretation and understanding of the human psyche during real estate transactions.
Some people seem to base their faith in an agent's ability as a result of public perception. Suddenly, if you see the same agents signs up and down Lake Drive in Whitefish Bay, the obvious guess is “Wow, that agent must be one of the best…look at how many signs I see.”
Conversely, you are at a friend's house for game night and suddenly everyone goes, “Gee, whatever happened to Sally Sellsalot? I was told her brokerage can’t keep up with the market.” Someone else says, “I heard that she was tough to work with.”
In this day and age, an agent's brokerage has very little to do with their success. In fact most brokerages do not even review the client's contracts until AFTER they are signed and executed by all parties. (That still blows my mind). The world wide web & cell phones make it very easy for Realtors to cooperate between one another no matter what brokerage they hang their license at. Sally’s brokerage has very little to do with your success.
And maybe someone thought Sally was tough to work with because she was a total boss and rocked it for her clients, while sadly the people on the other side didn’t have as strong of an agent, so they just assume Sally is difficult to work with. Knowledge is power; if Sally has more knowledge does that really make her difficult?
So when you are looking for your real estate agent, here are some tips to siphon through the fluff and get to the good stuff.
Contract Knowledge: Ask the agent detailed questions about the process of the accepted offer through closing. For instance ask “Am I going to have to fix everything they find” and see how the agent responds. If their answer is a simple “no” then guess what, they don’t know the contract. They are just trying to make you feel good. (While the answer might be no, it would be proper to walk you through what the inspection contingency actually states so that you can see how many different avenues there are.)
Data Interpretation: If an agent shows up at your house with a price, and they haven’t even walked through it, chances are they printed off a CMA (comparative market analysis) from a system that uses an algorithm. Your agent should create a CUSTOM analysis for you, after they have visited the house. This is the only way to take the knowledge of your home and properly compare the data and condition to other homes. If the agent tries to give you a number at the first meeting, chances are, they are just trying to get you to sign the listing contract that day so you don’t interview anyone else.
Human Psyche: Find an agent who works with both buyers and sellers. I find that it is very helpful to have experience on both sides of a transaction. Oftentimes I am able to communicate with my client and let them know what to anticipate from the opposite side and/or the "why" behind someone's actions.
There are a handful of really phenomenal, detailed agents out there who take their jobs very seriously. We take the contracts seriously, and we don’t run when the going gets tough. This is who you want on your side.