Where do you begin???
We have 82,000+ licensed REALTORS in Arizona as of June 1, 2017. How do you decide? Many times buyers and sellers will hire the first person they interview or simply go with a recommendation by a friend or relative…or hire their friend or relative.
So, how to pick an agent? What makes them qualified to take care of your real estate needs?
Are they Full-Time and Experienced?
Your REALTOR should be full-time! If they have another full-time job and they are making a little “extra money” in real estate, it is impossible to be able to prioritize their client needs. Many tasks can be very time sensitive (contract deadlines, pre-closing final walk-through, closing day, etc) and the REALTOR needs to be able to ensure they are available when they are needed the most.
So what is full-time? We have specified work days and days off. Even on our day off, we are on call. As a listing Broker, we need to be able to answer buyer questions and respond to offers as they come in. Example – an out-of-state buyer is in the area shopping from Friday to Sunday. If our seller receives an offer on Saturday, we will usually have 24 hours to respond. We cannot wait until Monday. If we did, we would have lost a potential buyer for our seller.
Experience is also a strong part of finding a qualified REALTOR. Many agents will tell you they have been in real estate X number of years. What’s really important is how many transactions they have closed successfully. A full-time REALTOR will average about 10+ sales a year. When a new REALTOR gets their license (90 hours of class time), we have learned the real estate laws, requirements of the Department of Real Estate, taken an ethics class, and had one 6-hour class on the Purchase Contract. The education on how to do the job is under the guidance of the new agent’s Brokerage, of choice, and in the field. Experience comes from learning “hands on” by meeting with clients and during the sales transaction.
Are they local and experienced with your neighborhood for buying or selling?
The answer should always be “Yes”. Let’s start with an example. We had a buyer’s agent call on one of our listings with questions. In the background, I heard her client ask another question and she answered…incorrectly. I had to promptly correct her. The buyer was asking if they can go boating on the lake behind the house. The buyer’s agent said “yes”. The answer is a strong “no”. The lake is owned by the golf course and is private property.
I could give a dozen other stories like this one. Many agents attempt to act like experts, instead of simply telling their client they don’t know the answer and will look into it.
Real estate if VERY local. In the City of Maricopa alone, we have price variations between communities due to amenities, location, and building construction. If an agent doesn’t know the area, they are likely to make incorrect assumptions. Example: A common error with out-of-area buyer agents is that Rancho El Dorado and The Villages at Rancho El Dorado share amenities (community pools, etc); they do not. They are separate HOAs.
Are they part of a team?
Teams have pros and cons. Here’s how to decide what works best for you.
- Tasks are broken down between team members. Ex. Listing agents, Buyer agents, Offer negotiator, Transaction coordinator, etc. Each member is likely well-experienced in their specific role.
- It is likely there will always be at least one team member, on call, 7 days a week.
- Depending on how large the team, you may work with several different people during the sale or purchase of your home. Always ask how the communication and tasks are structured, if you prefer to work with the one REALTOR only.
- Sales statistics aren’t always representative of each team member. The team’s sales numbers are usually significantly higher, since the numbers represent the efforts of several team members. If you have a new, inexperienced agent who has come onto the team, they will share in those sales numbers. Alternatively, the team lead also has the option to keep all the sales under his/her name on the MLS. Ex. Jane is a team member under John. Jane is a buyers agent and she closes a sale. The closing is recorded in the MLS under John, the team lead, as if he was the agent.
Bottom line: Interview at least 3 agents. You’re the Boss and are hiring someone to work for you on one of the largest purchases you may ever make.