11 Dec

Choosing a real estate agent can be a real problem. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) collects money from every licensed Realtor for a political fund to help elect politicians that rule in their favor at the expense of Buyers and Sellers. They also charge each licensed real estate agent a fee to pay for all the television, newspaper and radio ads that tries to paint a pretty picture of the services that the real estate agents provide. Then in real life, the actions of many of the agents, contradicts this pretty picture that NAR is trying to project. If you complain to the ethics committees of the local state licensing agency, they always rule “no fault found”, even though many of their actions are illegal.

So how do you overcome the difficult problem of finding a “good realtor? First of all, you need to look for a real estate agent that will listen to YOUR needs. Most see you as just another commission for them and so if you ask to see mobile homes, they show you single family homes, condos or town homes. They did not listen to your guidelines. Others ask for a property with water and when you arrive at the property, there is a dried up hole in the ground where the “pond” is supposed to be. When you find a real estate agent that will put your needs and wants in front of their want and need of making another commission, you can then move on.

Second of all you need to consider whether you are a Buyer or a Seller. If you are a Buyer, you are looking for someone that has experience in working FOR the Buyer and not for the Seller. NAR has an option called “dual agency”. The definition of agency states that the agent is working 100% for you. If offered to sign a dual agency agreement, do not work with this agent. There is no way they can give 100% to both Buyer and Seller. A basic concept in the Bible states you cannot serve two masters at the same time, yet NAR leads people to believe they are being helped. In addition, a Buyer wants to find the right house. They want the paperwork filled out properly. They expect the real estate agent to negotiate a better price for the Buyer not a high listing price so the agent can get a higher commission. With a contract, Buyers are also looking for help in obtaining financing. If the agent cannot help in all of the above areas, look elsewhere.

Third, the outlook for a Seller is a different perspective. A Seller wants the real estate agent to negotiate the highest and best price for their home. They want terms that are good for themselves. They do not want the house to stagnate on the market – time is of the essence is a term used in many contracts. The Seller wants the home sold so they can move on to other things. The Seller is looking for convenience. They do not have time to take off from work all the time to field calls and questions from prospective Buyers. They want open lines of communication between themselves and the Listing agent as to where they stand and what will happen next. The Seller expects the agent to be diligent and not reveal to the Buyer’s agent that they will take a lower price or any other confidential info that agents usually freely share amongst themselves without the Buyer’s or Seller’s permission. The Seller is also interested in knowing how the property will be marketed.

Fourth, there are entrepreneurs who do things for themselves. They are taught at weekend seminars by other professionals selling books and tapes on how to exploit real estate agents. Basically, they teach the individuals to use the agent to find out the prices that other comparable properties have sold for and then market the property themselves. This is usually referred to as a competitive market analysis or CMA. Others teach them to get lists of expired and older listings from the agent and then contact the individuals directly knowing they already want to sell their property.

If in your search in choosing a real estate agent you get the one that only knows the standard two questions that agents like to ask: “How much money do you have for a down payment?” and “What is your credit score?”; run! They do not see you as a human being to be listened to. You are just another number to them: another listing, another sale, another commission, another statistic, etc. To narrow down your search even more, refuse to work with anyone that does not invest in real estate themselves. If they do not believe enough in real estate, they should not be in the business!

Other things to look for are what kind of services will be received. All Realtors will do the same standard things for you: Put a sign in the yard, enter the home for sale in the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), hold an open house for sales agents, hold an open house for the public, advertise it in the local newspaper and list it in their homes magazine. In all of these areas, it is difficult to find anyone who will stand out in getting your property to stand out amid all the other homes on the market at the same time. If you find one that will go the extra mile – it is a rarity!

A Realtor should be honest and have a good reputation for you to decide to work with them. Some suggest you ask around to find a good agent. This may work or it may backfire. What one individual feels is good service may be substandard service to another person. It is like a trash and treasure sale – one person’s trash is another person’s gold. It is difficult for the public to determine honesty of an agent as they are protected by NAR – honesty is a trait that again is a rarity among agents. Some would be willing to sell their soul to the devil to make a sale.

A company that does more volume than another company may give you the market advantage you are seeking. They are respected in the area so get more listings. Do you want to have your home sit on the market forever waiting for a Buyer? Of course not, you want someone who is used to doing many transactions each month and will get your property sold for you. Some people suggest you check out open houses to find a good agent. Such a tactic is very outdated. Agents who hold open houses know they will not get a sale from those individuals stopping by. All they want is to assemble a list of warm buyers to contact at a later date to add to their statistics.

Many Realtors will over price your property causing it to sit on the market too long. Others like to price your property too low so it sells fast, but does not give you the price you need to move on to your next property. It is another statistic for them – another one bites the dust. Then on to the next sale, so they can have good statistics at their weekly or monthly meetings.

Another suggestion is to check newspaper ads. If you have been watching newspaper ads, they are getting smaller and smaller. Agents are now marketing on the internet as it is not cost effective for them to advertise in a regular newspaper. Maybe you should call around to different offices. Call me and I will tell you I am the best person for the job. All the offices can’t be “the best” so how do you eliminate the bluff from the truth? Perhaps you should check the number of signs in a neighborhood to see who to select. Just because an agent is good at listing a property, what is the percent they closed? Agents are good at compiling some statistics, but may not have this particular statistic available.

An old saying used to be: “Buyer Beware!” This is true for Realtors also! It is so very difficult to find a good Realtor now. By using the list above, you can eliminate some of the worst ones and then choose from those still left standing after the dust settles. The Realtor mantra is: “Location – Location – Location”. It really should be “Honesty – Integrity – Truth to the client instead of to the commission”. It is a jungle out there. Good Luck and Best Wishes in your search. If you are unable to find a good realtor, perhaps the best option is to do everything yourself. If you can’t trust yourself – who can you trust?

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