Hey, I get it, some folks don’t believe that Realtors are of any importance. In some cases I agree. Some agents don’t realize that they aren’t adding anything to the equation when the represent a buyer or seller. Their buyers know more about the process, home and neighborhood than their agent does. This is not always the case, but occasionally agents don’t add any value.
Here are some areas and skills that you can find out as you interview the agent for the job of representing you.
First, what do they know that you may not? I will be the first to admit that if you want to buy a condo I am not the right choice for you. Unlike some of my brethren in the business, I don’t want to be everything to everyone as I feel you can be great at a few things, but not at all things. Specializing in duplexes, triplexes and small apartment buildings is an important niche. Besides, after studying condos and their volatility, I believe they are a terrible investment. Pick an agent that specializes in what you are looking to buy or sell.
Another reason for hiring a specialist is that the Realtor will know about inventory that other agents don’t. Whether it is having “pocket” listings or have properties that are coming up for sale, you will be working with someone that likely has more inventory than your average agent. I have sold as many as 18 duplexes and triplexes to buyers I am working with in a given year. I regularly have properties that never appear on the MLS, not even after they are sold.
The final reason for picking an agent that specializes is to have someone that has expertise in a specific area. If you are buying a horse-farm would you pick someone that sells single-family homes in Woodbury? So, why would you use an agent that knows little or nothing about rental properties to help you? You want someone that will add value and help you.
The next thing you should pay particular attention to is what kind of sounding-board is the agent going to be for you?
Despite your greatest efforts, as a buyer or seller, a lot of the transaction falls on your agent. This of it like a game show like the $64,000 Pyramid or Hollywood Game Night where you rely on another teammate to give you clues and then you guess based on those clues. If your partner is terrible your in trouble, and you will notice how one teammate never gets picked to help-don’t pick an agent that is going to be a bad teammate.
I am stunned at times when agents are poor negotiators or their ego gets in the way of working with the other agent. I remember one situation where a Broker told me that his client “didn’t even know that his mother owned the property she was selling.” Do you think he lost negotiating power? We quickly asked for the entire property to be replumbed and the seller agreed. We knew that the money meant little or nothing to her. I often get agents that are combative and when the party I am representing becomes aware of this they return fire. Its always better to try to work together.
Finally, there is no substitute for experience. I recently had a situation where I knew that a hail storm had went through a neighborhood about a month prior to listing a property. I was able to put the seller in touch with a contractor who got a storm damage claim on the property. The buyer got new siding and a new roof and the seller received a few thousand dollars more than full asking price due to the new exterior.
Don’t make your decision on how many years the Realtor has been in business, but instead determine who is going to represent you based on how many duplexes they sell in your area. If they have been in the business for twenty years they may still have only sold one rental property in their career.