Just like any other profession, there are good real estate agents ... and there are, unfortunately, subpar real estate agents, too.
How do you know whether you are speaking with a terrific agent or a dud when thinking about hiring an agent?
Obviously, we think we are the best Boise, Idaho real estate resource for you! :) However, here are some concrete things to think about if you talk to other agents.
We've compiled a list of what a great agent will do for you:
Ask you about your goals
It's not good to make assumptions about most things, and when it comes to shopping for a home, making assumptions can be financially problematic. If you are talking to an agent who assumes they know what you want, be wary.
A great agent should ask you lots of questions – about where you live, where you're going, what you like and dislike about the home and the neighborhood, your future family and pet plans, and more. This helps them either find the right home for you or accomplish your goal of selling your home.
If the agent is telling vs asking, they may not be the right one.
Recommend a lender
Your real estate agent should be providing referrals for lenders they've worked with who are competent and trustworthy. And any agent worth her salt should ask if you're pre-approved, so if you haven't been asked, that's not a good sign.
Real estate agents work on real estate transactions every day, and they should have contacts who can help with mortgage, title, appraisals, inspections, contractors, and beyond – utilize this resource.
Provide feedback on neighborhoods
A great real estate agent should be able to answer your questions and explain how each neighborhood compares with others. Often neighborhoods differ street by street and a great real estate agent should help answer how that will affect you and the price of the home you either want to buy or sell.
Help you find a home
You might think that finding a home is the easy part. But most buyers have to check out endless potentially unsuitable homes before they find "the one" that's their long-term best fit. And photos can be deceiving!
An agent should hook you up with an MLS feed that will alert you immediately when a home that meets your criteria hits the market – and agents should also help you come up with alternate strategies if the going is just too tough in your price range.
Price your home correctly
For sellers, this is one of the most critical jobs an agent will complete – and if they don't do a good job, you could lose tens of thousands of dollars. Pricing the home correctly right out the gate is absolutely vital to selling the home quickly and for its highest value.
Some agents may inflate the possible sales price assuming they can get the listing and then have the sellers they need to reduce the price if they don't get an offer. Although this can be true, those agents may be forgetting about a bigger truth –your listing is going to get the most attention from qualified buyers in the first few days it's on the market. Price reductions after the home is listed may not attract as many eyeballs as when the home first comes on the market – and you may need to reduce the price well below fair-market value to generate buyer interest if you start off too high and become time-worn.
So it's not typically wise to hire the agent just because they recommend the highest sales price; instead, ask prospective agents how they calculated that sales price, whether it lines up with the typical prices in your area, and how long homes priced in that range tend to stay on the market.
Market the home well
One reason sellers hire a real estate agent is that the agent has a marketing platform to advertise the home for sale. Some homes require more marketing than others and agents should have a customized plan to market each home they list.
If you don't know the agent's plan to market your home – or worse, if you don't think the agent has a plan at all – that's a huge sign the agent might not be the best fit for you.
Negotiate an offer
Once you've identified a neighborhood and found a good home, or buyers have made an offer on your home, there is still a lot of work for the agent to do!
A real estate agent proves his or her worth during negotiations, and you should expect nothing less than top-notch negotiating from a prospective agent. From helping you determine the best offer, to reviewing contingencies and stipulating timelines, a real estate agent is your guide on the journey to buying or selling a home, and this is where a great agent really shines.
Make sure you are going to have an advocate in your real estate transaction.
Negotiate inspection repair requests
Speaking of negotiation: Who should pay for the repairs if the home needs a new roof or some electrical work?
A great agent should manage the negotiation process between buyer and seller for these repairs.
Communicate, communicate, communicate
The real estate agent should be the person who knows all the different parts and pieces of the transaction – and serves as the point of communication between them.
If the appraisal is delayed, or there's an issue with the loan, the agent or a key team member is communicating that information to you. An agent's job is to make the transaction easier for you.
Both buyers and sellers need to pack and arrange to move their things. Sellers are also going to have to clean – the oven, the bathrooms, etc, and ensure that any trash is hauled away – before they hand over the keys.
A great real estate agent should be sharing resources to help with these activities.
Stay on top of the loan process
If the loan doesn't go through, the sale is lost. That's why a great real estate agent will make sure the lender is doing their job to make sure things are ready to go.
For a buyer's agent, that means working with the buyer and lender to ensure they have all the documentation they'll need, and helping the buyer track down any missing paperwork.
And for the listing agent, that means keeping in close communication with the buyer's agent so that there are no loan surprises while everybody waits for the closing.
Tie up any loose ends
There are a lot of moving parts to a real estate transaction, and a great agent is going to make sure those parts and pieces are moving correctly – and to work on anything that could pose a potential problem.
Help you manage emotions
Buying or selling a home is a process fraught with anxiety, feelings of missing out, and both happiness and sadness surrounding a big change.
Great real estate agents understand emotions are part of the process and will let you know what you're feeling is totally normal.
Follow up to see how the move went
When all is said and done and you've moved in, you still want to hear from your agent!
A great agent will check in to make sure everything went smoothly with the move. Did you forget anything in your old place? Do you need help getting settled in? Were there any things that came up with the house? A great agent will ask you these questions and help solve any problems that emerged as a result of your move.
Offer help finding contractors
All homes age and you can expect to make some repairs on your home at some point. Ideally, you'll ask your agent for a great resource whenever you need a contractor of any type!
Keep in touch
If someone asks if you can refer them to your agent and you can't even remember your agent's name, that's probably not a good sign.
The best agents make a point to keep in contact with their clients. They may reach out to help celebrate your homeownership anniversary, ask how you're doing, invite you to events, and stay connected with you as part of their community!