Love ’em or hate ’em, a real estate agent is the acting liaison between home buyers and sellers. This is their full-time job. Whichever end of the equation you’re on, you want to be working with an agent that you feel you can trust and who understands all aspects of the transaction. Many people complain of feeling contemptuous of their real estate agent — as if to say they don’t feel that they’re earning their commission on the sale of big, modern luxury homes.
Really what this comes down to are issues of trust, and when large sums of money are being exchanged, it brings out the worst in all of us. The buyers and sellers have their own sets of potential stresses (moving dates, kids/school systems, loans, divorce), and we can’t fault the agents for attempting to make a living. After all, that’s what they’re doing. Of course there are always exceptions, but most people don’t get involved in brokering real estate because they love dealing with people at their stressed-out worst.
While you’re looking at real estate sites, real estate companies and real estate listings, keep this process in mind for meeting agents. The relationship need not be (and likely will not be) perfect, but you need to feel like you have a handle on who they re and how they do business.
Finding the Right Realtor for You
In sizing up an agent upon first meeting them, ask yourself if they seem like someone you could get along with. Does their personality jibe with yours? Is their energy level contagious, or conversely, is it annoying? Do they seem reasonably open? Honest? The bottom line here is that even if an agent has a ton of awards and a stellar reputation, if you don’t care for their manner or can’t find something likable about them, the relationship is doomed. Look for someone you could enjoy having lunch with.
The agent may try and run the show a little — that’s pretty standard. But don’t let that stop you from extracting the information you need. Make a list of things you want to cover on your phone. Or, if you don’t use a smartphone, pen and paper are fine. Here are some standard things to cover:
Although it’s more work for them, a real estate agent is often looking to play both sides of the transaction, which results in a double commission. Make sure you know whether you’re working with a seller’s agent or a buyer’s agent, as opposed to someone looking to represent both sides. This ensures a greater level of confidentiality and loyalty. The other scenario has the agent speaking out both sides of their mouth, which can only lead to trouble.
Naturally, this doesn’t cover everything. But hopefully by doing a bit of screening you’ll end up working with an agent that you believe is fair. There’s nothing worse than dealing with an agent you don’t trust.