Sometimes real estate is just about dollars and cents, but more often it is a platform for developing an intimate relationship. When you work with a real estate agent, you are opening up details about your life that have led you to buy or sell a home and this can either forge a bond or spell disaster. So let’s spend a little time talking about you and a little time talking about me to see if I can help you develop the right kind of relationship with your agent.
The world is full of real estate agents and there is certainly no shortage on the island of Oahu. So while that can be challenging for us, it is good news for you. Beneficial because you have the opportunity to seek out the right fit for you. It is critical that you not minimize this portion of the buying or selling process as it can not only make or break the deal, but your overall experience as well. To be candid, I have had less than favorable experiences buying and selling my own homes that left me wondering what I paid a real estate agent for. That is, in part, why I decided to become an agent myself.
It’s true that real estate is my main source of income, but it is so much more than just a job. It is a profound privilege to represent my clients along the path to home ownership and one that comes with substantial responsibility. So how can you ensure that you are working with an agent that is in this business for more than just the bottom line?
Sure you can Google, “How to Choose a Real Estate Agent” and be provided with dozens of questions to ask your prospective agent. But I would like to suggest a couple of ideas that you may not find on those lists.
Do you play well with others?
Think of your real estate agent as the front man (or woman) of your band. They are your spokesperson in the industry, so you may want to consider how well they are representing you to the larger audience. Many of those lists I referenced earlier, suggest asking for referrals from past clients, which is a great idea, but I believe that it is equally important to research their reputation and relationship with other agents. Remember, this is an important decision and one that warrants due diligence.
Do you think outside of the box?
I recently met a couple that wanted to live in a specific complex in Kaneohe, Hawaii, which is fantastic, except for the fact that there was nothing for sale. It was time to get creative and come up with a strategy for finding them a home in this complex. And while it isn’t unusual for an agent to “farm” an area for new listings, I wanted to do something a little different. Here is what we came up with. It is specific and personal and what they needed someone to be willing to do for them. Will your agent get creative to deliver your desired result?
Do you have time for me?
Ok, let me be clear, I am not suggesting that you should seek an agent that is available 24/7. Most have a life outside of real estate and if not, hopefully they at least have some boundaries. But, it is an important question to ask. Does your agent have so many clients that they won’t be able to give you the attention you deserve? Do they have set business hours and are they available outside of those hours if there is a crisis? Will they be available to host a broker open and public open house or do they hand those off to new agents? If you are in a competitive market, can your agent show you a new listing on short notice? As a seller or buyer, you should never feel that you are an imposition to your agent. Being seen and heard is essential.
Are you a team player?
This is different than the question about playing well with others, as it has to do with whether your agent works on a team with other agents. Because agents have a life, many find that working with a team is a desirable way to find balance. This can be beneficial for clients as it can provide easier access to qualified professionals, but it may also feel a bit like being dumped by your high school sweetheart. Ask whether your agent will guide you through the process from start to finish, or will there be multiple people handling the various tasks in the home selling or buying process.
Do you work on a LAN or a WAN?
I was recently contacted by some friends who were just about to sign a Purchase Contract on a home in New Jersey and they had some apprehension. The apprehension wasn’t about whether or not they should buy a home, but whether they were about to offer too much. I quickly researched the market statistics for that area. I researched the median home price, how many listings had sold at, below or over asking and how many days homes were typically on the market and how many buyers and sellers their agent had represented in the subject neighborhood. But why stop there? My friends are first-time homebuyers, using their VA loan benefits and it was important to me to make sure they were going to be well represented, so I picked up the phone and made sure that this agent was the right fit for them. This may be a poor analogy, but similar to how dogs check each other out at the park, agents can get a sense of how another agent does business and whether that particular style is appropriate for their friends or family.
Real Estate IS personal
It certainly is personal to you and it should be personal to your agent as well. You’re in this together and you have mutual goals, so put together a list of speed dating questions to ask your agent. After all, it could be the difference between having the feels and feeling used.
If you’re looking to buy or sell on Oahu, I’ll gladly answer all of your speed dating questions!