How Do I Find a Reputable Real Estate Agent?

One of the most important things to do when purchasing a home is to find a great real estate agent to make the process flow smoothly and effectively. A question many people ponder is how to find a good real estate agent. The best agent may not necessarily work at one of the top ten agencies in the area. The agent who will work best for you would be an experienced agent who will listen to your needs, act in a professional and ethical manner and knows the market in your area.

1.)Word-of-Mouth or Referral
Most real estate professionals attract a sizable amount of business because of a satisfied client who recommends them to a friend, family member or neighbour. When you are thinking of purchasing a home, it is a good idea to ask those around you who they have used and ask them to elaborate on their specific experience with the real estate agent in question. Successful real estate agents strive to make customer satisfaction their number one priority and will do everything they can to facilitate a good experience for a customer. Try to find an agent that has a proven track record and reputation for delivering quality service, customer satisfaction, and have experience in the neighbourhoods that you are looking in.

2.) Do an Online Search For Real Estate Agents
There are many online resources available when searching for a real estate agent referral, but this by no means ensures quality. The agents referred online may have paid a fee to the website owner to be listed in the directory. Performing a Google search of the top agents in your area and then reviewing their websites will give you a good list of agents to interview. Agents who have experience in the field will tell you, but a newer agent will more than likely have the extra time to spend working with you. Review any customer testimonials or feedback about an agent you may be interested in retaining.

3.) Visit Open Houses in the Area
You should visit some area open houses where you can actually meet with a potential agent in a non-threatening manner. Here you can see how they work, collect business cards, formulate an opinion and talk with them on a personal basis. If you are thinking about selling a home, pay close attention to how the agent presents the home. Make sure the agent is polite, informative, approachable and professional. Does the agent promote the home by handing out professional looking feature sheets or other related materials? Is the agent trying to play up the features that make the home more enticing? Or is the agent in the corner, back turned and uninvolved in the whole scenario?

4.) Pay Attention to Real Estate Signs
Carefully monitor the real estate signs in your neighbourhood. Observe how long from the day they go up until the home is actually sold. An agent who has a high sales turnover might be a better choice than an agent who has lots of for sale signs but few sold signs. An agent who gets results is what you want.

5.) Why Agents Use Printed Advertising
There are two main reasons real estate agents use printed advertisement. First is to advertise and sell a specific piece of realty. Secondly, advertising is used to promote the agent handling the transaction. By checking the local Sunday real estate ads in your neighbourhood and then checking the agents website, you can find the agents who may specialize in your particular neighbourhood. Contact the agent and inquire about their expertise and ask any other relative questions you may have.

6.) Seeking Recommendations from Other Realty Professionals
Ask around and seek out other real estate agents for a referral. Most agents are happy to refer a buyer or seller to another associate, if the service you require is not a specialty they can provide. Some agents only specialize in resale property, while others work predominantly with the sale of new homes. Other agents work exclusively with commercial or investment properties. Mortgage brokers are a great resource for agent referrals; many brokers have first-hand knowledge and can point you in the direction of a top-quality real estate agent and remember professionals tend to refer like-minded peers. There is also typically a referral fee involved for the referring professional so be careful that they refer you to the best Agent not the one that pays the highest referral fee.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

How to Look for a Good Real Estate Agent

You may be planning to sell your home or buy a new home. Either way, you’re probably looking for a great real estate agent.

Realtor, Real Estate Agent – is there a difference?

There are RealtorsĀ® and there are real estate agents. These are not synonymous terms. A real estate agent is licensed to “represent a buyer or a seller in a real estate transaction in exchange for commission.”Real estate agents typically work for a real estate broker or Realtor.

A Realtor also is licensed and may sell real estate as either an agent or a broker. There are completely ethical real estate agents and RealtorĀ®. The primary difference is that a Realtor has made an additional commitment to honor the 17-article code and profession of the real estate business.

The search and some questions

Looking for a great real estate agent means that you will be asking questions, so let’s start building your list of questions:

Referrals: ask your friends, colleagues, and relatives for referrals. Most people who have had a positive experience working with an agent will gladly describe their experience and why they feel their agent was exceptional.

Referrals from professionals: it is certainly appropriate to ask real estate agents for referrals. Financial institution representatives, especially mortgage brokers, are likely to be aware of exceptional agents.

Open houses: going to open houses is a great, non-threatening way to meet estate agents. Pay attention to the agent’s manners and appearance, his/her professionalism, and the quality of promotional material provided at the open house. Does the agent seem knowledgeable about the property and the local market? Is the agent ready to point out the home’s features, or does he basically ignore visitors?

When you have a generally favorable impression of an agent, be sure to collect a business card and make notes of your observations.

References: plan to interview several agents before making a decision and signing a buyer’s agreement. During the interview, ask each candidate to provide referrals of recent clients and call those referrals.

Among the questions to ask are what were the asking and selling prices of their properties, and how long the home was on the market?

Take time to look up the estate board of licensing services to confirm that the candidate is currently licensed and whether any complaints or disciplinary actions have been filed against the agent.

Experience: how long has the agent been in business? You should be looking for the agent who thoroughly knows the local market in which you are selling or planning to buy your home. It takes time to build expertise and market knowledge. One agent recommends that any viable candidate should have at least five years’ experience.

Is the agent full- or part-time? You should expect, and ask for, a full time agent.

Next steps

When evaluating the qualifications of estate agents, look at their websites and current listings. Your future agent should be web and technology savvy, using all current media to help you find your perfect home or sell your current one. The agent should also be able to communicate reliably and regularly using the form(s) of contact you prefer – fax, phone, text, or e-mail.

Ideally, your prospective agent is busy but not too busy to effectively represent you. If you feel that the candidate is not committed to giving your sale or purchase full and enthusiastic service, or is prepared to hand you over to an “assistant”, move on.

Your agent should be realistic about pricing, marketing, and representing you as the seller or buyer.”If it sounds too good to be true… ” can apply to estate agents and services, too. Trust your powers of observation and intuition. When you combine them with the information you have gathered from your interviews, you will be ready to make a well-informed decision.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

Real Estate Agents – What Sellers and Buyers Should Know About Them

For most buyers and sellers the prospect of dealing with a real estate agent brings forth unknown fears. While some agents are genuine and reputable and consider their clients best interest as their top priority, there is no dearth of unscrupulous individuals either who are just trying to make a quick buck at someone else’s expense. As a buyer or sellers of a property, it is your responsibility to choose a estate agent prudently. So, here is a look at what you should know about real estate agents before you approach one.

What does a real estate agent do?

Depending on which side he is working for (the buyers or the sellers), the realtor acts as an intermediary between the buyer and the seller and helps to complete the sale of a property. For his services, he is offered a commission from his client (seller, buyer or both). When working on behalf of the seller, the agent is responsible for putting the details of a property in the multiple listing services of the area and undertaking other efforts such as home staging to market the property.

In case of a residential property, a real estate agent may start off by putting up the details of the property on his personal or company website depending on whether he is a part of a realtor firm or works on his own. The next step would be to market the property through postcards and advertisements in real estate magazines offline as well as online.

Besides marketing the property, the agent who lists your home is also responsible for following up with other agents who might have clients that may have expressed interest in the property. An agent is also supposed to help you negotiate the best deal possible. He/She is with you every step of the way till the home is sold; advising you on all matters including procuring the services of a lawyer.

The agent does not charge the client/home seller for his marketing efforts; however, you will have to incur any legal cost involved in the selling process

When working from the seller’s side, a realtor is responsible for rummaging through the property listings of an area that his client is interested in. He coordinates with the real estate agent handling the property on behalf of the seller and arranges to show the premises to his clients. A real estate agent from the buyer’s side also helps to negotiate the best deal for his client and is with the buyer through out the purchasing process. He is also responsible for approaching a professional to get a property evaluation done. Some real estate agents may also offer other services such as advice and help for procuring home loans.

Real estate agents not only earn commission from the sale and purchase of homes but also when a property is leased. Usually the commission is paid to the real estate agent at the final settlement of the deal.

Who should you choose to be your estate agent?

Real estate agent can don three mantles that of an intermediary on behalf of the seller, the buyer or a dual agent. When buying a house, it would be best to hire the services of an agent who can work on your side, the same holds true when selling a home as well; you would be better of approaching a real estate agent who works for sellers.

Although real estate agents who work from the sellers or the buyer’s side do not have different credentials, some agents choose to play on a single turf while double agents may work for both the seller and the buyer simultaneously earning commissions from both.

The Sellers Real Estate Agent: An agent working on behalf of the seller will have his loyalties towards his client an he/she will try his hardest to convince the seller to give his client the lowest deal. So, as a buyer if you were to ask the seller’s agent if his client would accept a higher deal, he will be obligated to not divulge this information to you.

The Buyers Real Estate Agent: Similarly agents who work on behalf of the seller owe their responsibility to their clients and will try to get their clients the highest deal possible. So, they will not be willing to offer information on how low their client will go in terms of the price.

A dual agent: A dual agent is obligated to keep the honest picture in front of both parties; since he is entitled to a commission from both parties, he owes his loyalties to both the buyer and the seller.

Most real estate agents have a list of buyers as well as sellers so it is not unusual for an agent to work on behalf of both parties or at least get another agent from his real estate firm to negotiate on behalf of the seller or the buyer.

The problem with real estate agents

While real estate agents are in the business of marketing properties, it is not uncommon for them to play up their credentials; after all, it is a dog eat dog world and there is certainly no dearth of realtors in the market. While this is acceptable, some individuals resort to lying blatantly about their accomplishments and often their customers end up paying for their tall claims.

So, make sure that you check all the claims that are being made by a potential estate agent. Do not hesitate to ask for references. If he has not mentioned his experience in the brochure, make it a point to ask him about it. Also, inquire about other properties that he may have sold which were similar to the one that you want to sell/buy; this would include properties in the sane area, of the same size and price range.

Finding a good and reliable agent can save you a lot of trouble while hanging out with the wrong guy can quickly turn into a nightmare so take your time when picking an agent to buy/sell your home.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

Top 7 Mistakes Rookie Real Estate Agents Make

Every time I talk to someone about my business and career, it always comes up that “they’ve thought about getting into real estate” or know someone who has. With so many people thinking about getting into real estate, and getting into real estate – why aren’t there more successful Realtors in the world? Well, there’s only so much business to go around, so there can only be so many Real Estate Agents in the world. I feel, however, that the inherent nature of the business, and how different it is from traditional careers, makes it difficult for the average person to successfully make the transition into the Real Estate Business. As a Broker, I see many new agents make their way into my office – for an interview, and sometimes to begin their careers. New Real Estate Agents bring a lot of great qualities to the table – lots of energy and ambition – but they also make a lot of common mistakes. Here are the 7 top mistakes rookie Real Estate Agents Make.

1) No Business Plan or Business Strategy

So many new agents put all their emphasis on which Real Estate Brokerage they will join when their shiny new license comes in the mail. Why? Because most new Real Estate Agents have never been in business for themselves – they’ve only worked as employees. They, mistakenly, believe that getting into the Real Estate business is “getting a new job.” What they’re missing is that they’re about to go into business for themselves. If you’ve ever opened the doors to ANY business, you know that one of the key ingredients is your business plan. Your business plan helps you define where you’re going, how you’re getting there, and what it’s going to take for you to make your real estate business a success. Here are the essentials of any good business plan:

A) Goals – What do you want? Make them clear, concise, measurable, and achievable.

B) Services You Provide – you don’t want to be the “jack of all trades & master of none” – choose residential or commercial, buyers/sellers/renters, and what area(s) you want to specialize in. New residential real estate agents tend to have the most success with buyers/renters and then move on to listing homes after they’ve completed a few transactions.

C) Market – who are you marketing yourself to?

D) Budget – consider yourself “new real estate agent, inc.” and write down EVERY expense that you have – gas, groceries, cell phone, etc… Then write down the new expenses you’re taking on – board dues, increased gas, increased cell usage, marketing (very important), etc…

E) Funding – how are you going to pay for your budget w/ no income for the first (at least) 60 days? With the goals you’ve set for yourself, when will you break even?

F) Marketing Plan – how are you going to get the word out about your services? The MOST effective way to market yourself is to your own sphere of influence (people you know). Make sure you do so effectively and systematically.

2) Not Using the Best Possible Closing Team

They say the greatest businesspeople surround themselves with people that are smarter than themselves. It takes a pretty big team to close a transaction – Buyer’s Agent, Listing Agent, Lender, Insurance Agent, Title Officer, Inspector, Appraiser, and sometimes more! As a Real Estate Agent, you are in the position to refer your client to whoever you choose, and you should make sure that anyone you refer in will be an asset to the transaction, not someone who will bring you more headache. And the closing team you refer in, or “put your name to,” are there to make you shine! When they perform well, you get to take part of the credit because you referred them into the transaction.

The deadliest duo out there is the New Real Estate Agent & New Mortgage Broker. They get together and decide that, through their combined marketing efforts, they can take over the world! They’re both focusing on the right part of their business – marketing – but they’re doing each other no favors by choosing to give each other business. If you refer in a bad insurance agent, it might cause a minor hiccup in the transaction – you make a simple phone call and a new agent can bind the property in less than an hour. However, because it typically takes at least two weeks to close a loan, if you use an inexperienced lender, the result can be disastrous! You may find yourself in a position of “begging for a contract extension,” or worse, being denied a contract extension.

A good closing team will typically know more than their role in the transaction. Due to this, you can turn to them with questions, and they will step in (quietly) when they see a potential mistake – because they want to help you, and in return receive more of your business. Using good, experienced players for your closing team will help you infinitely in conducting business worthy of MORE business…and best of all, it’s free!

3) Not Arming Themselves with the Necessary Tools

Getting started as a Real Estate Agent is expensive. In Texas, the license alone is an investment that will cost between $700 and $900 (not taking into account the amount of time you’ll invest.) However, you’ll run into even more expenses when you go to arm yourself with the necessary tools of the trade. And don’t fool yourself – they are necessary – because your competitors are definitely using every tool to help THEM.

A) MLS Access is probably the most expensive necessity you’re going to run into. Joining your local (and state & national, by default) Board of Realtors will allow you to pay for MLS access, and in Austin, Texas, will run around $1000. However, don’t skimp in this area. Getting MLS access is one of the most important things you can do. It’s what differentiates us from your average salesman – we don’t sell homes, we present any of the homes that we have available. With MLS Access, you will have 99% of the homes for sale in your area available to present to your clients.

B) Mobile Phone w/ a Beefy Plan – These days, everyone has a cell phone. But not everyone has a plan that will facilitate the level of use that Real Estate Agents need. Plan on getting at least 2000 minutes per month. You want, and need, to be available to your clients 24/7 – not just nights and weekends.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

Real Estate Agents and the Internet – How to Buy and Sell Real Estate Today

Then and Now

Ten years ago, a search for real estate would have started in the office of a local real estate agent or by just driving around town. At the agent’s office, you would spend an afternoon flipping through pages of active property listings from the local Multiple Listing Service (MLS). After choosing properties of interest, you would spend many weeks touring each property until you found the right one. Finding market data to enable you to assess the asking price would take more time and a lot more driving, and you still might not be able to find all of the information you needed to get really comfortable with a fair market value.

Today, most property searches start on the Internet. A quick keyword search on Google by location will likely get you thousands of results. If you spot a property of interest on a real estate web site, you can typically view photos online and maybe even take a virtual tour. You can then check other Web sites, such as the local county assessor, to get an idea of the property’s value, see what the current owner paid for the property, check the real estate taxes, get census data, school information, and even check out what shops are within walking distance-all without leaving your house!

While the resources on the Internet are convenient and helpful, using them properly can be a challenge because of the volume of information and the difficulty in verifying its accuracy. At the time of writing, a search of “Denver real estate” returned 2,670,000 Web sites. Even a neighborhood specific search for real estate can easily return thousands of Web sites. With so many resources online how does an investor effectively use them without getting bogged down or winding up with incomplete or bad information? Believe it or not, understanding how the business of real estate works offline makes it easier to understand online real estate information and strategies.

The Business of Real Estate

Real estate is typically bought and sold either through a licensed real estate agent or directly by the owner. The vast majority is bought and sold through real estate brokers. (We use “agent” and “broker” to refer to the same professional.) This is due to their real estate knowledge and experience and, at least historically, their exclusive access to a database of active properties for sale. Access to this database of property listings provided the most efficient way to search for properties.

The MLS (and CIE)

The database of residential, land, and smaller income producing properties (including some commercial properties) is commonly referred to as a multiple listing service (MLS). In most cases, only properties listed by member real estate agents can be added to an MLS. The primary purpose of an MLS is to enable the member real estate agents to make offers of compensation to other member agents if they find a buyer for a property.

This purposes did not include enabling the direct publishing of the MLS information to the public; times change. Today, most MLS information is directly accessible to the public over the Internet in many different forms.

Commercial property listings are also displayed online but aggregated commercial property information is more elusive. Larger MLSs often operate a commercial information exchange (CIE). A CIE is similar to an MLS but the agents adding the listings to the database are not required to offer any specific type of compensation to the other members. Compensation is negotiated outside the CIE.

In most cases, for-sale-by-owner properties cannot be directly added to an MLS and CIE, which are typically maintained by REALTOR associations. The lack of a managed centralized database can make these properties more difficult to locate. Traditionally, these properties are found by driving around or looking for ads in the local newspaper’s real estate listings. A more efficient way to locate for-sale-by-owner properties is to search for a for-sale-by-owner Web site in the geographic area.

What is a REALTOR? Sometimes the terms real estate agent and REALTOR are used interchangeably; however, they are not the same. A REALTOR is a licensed real estate agent who is also a member of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS. REALTORS are required to comply with a strict code of ethics and conduct.

MLS and CIE property listing information was historically only available in hard copy, and as we mentioned, only directly available to real estate agents members of an MLS or CIE. About ten years ago, this valuable property information started to trickle out to the Internet. This trickle is now a flood!

One reason is that most of the 1 million or so REALTORS have Web sites, and most of those Web sites have varying amounts of the local MLS or CIE property information displayed on them. Another reason is that there are many non-real estate agent Web sites that also offer real estate information, including, for-sale-by-owner sites, foreclosure sites, regional and international listing sites, County assessor sites, and valuation and market information sites. The flood of real estate information to the Internet definitely makes the information more accessible but also more confusing and subject to misunderstanding and misuse.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off