What to look for in a real estate agent

Types of agents

When representing a home buyer as a Buyer’s Agent, our responsibility is to you as the buyer, making sure your needs are met and that you are well advised. This could mean negotiating the lowest price you can get, advising you on lenders and inspectors, or pointing out that the house you just fell in love with might need a new foundation, and referring you to a structural engineer who can tell you what it would take to fix that (or if it can be fixed). We’ll walk you through every step of the process, advising you in your best interest and making sure that everyone keeps on top of approaching deadlines.

Conversely, as a Listing Agent, our job is to best represent your interests as the seller. This runs the gamut from preparing the listing, helping you in setting the asking price, assessing anything that needs to be done before listing the house, advising on any repairs, and advising on staging, etc. Once the house is on the market, we will market your property effectively, communicate clearly with you and other agents and potential buyers. We’ll ask for documentation from all potential buyers so that we can advise you regarding which offer is strongest (if multiple offers), or evaluate the offers as they come in. The final decision of course belongs to you. After going under contract, we’ll be there through every step of the process, standing firm for your interests when going through inspection and other deadlines, and advising you accordingly. In the past 2 years, listings for our clients have all gone under contract in 3 days or less, with multiple offers over asking price.

A third type of agency usually only happens when the agent ends up representing both sides. A Transaction Agent facilitates communications back and forth between the buyer and the seller, advises both sides fairly, handling paperwork and scheduling inspection, appraisal, etc. A Transaction Agent has a responsibility to treat both sides fairly and equally. 

Why a good agent is needed

Someday it is possible that technology will be able to replace a real estate agent, but many people don’t realize how emotionally fraught negotiations can be between buyers and sellers. Realtors act in many ways as mediators between competing interests, keeping the deal on track while serving as a buffer, keeping tempers and hurt feelings out of the way of the negotiating process. Because the sale or purchase of a home is usually one of the largest transactions people are involved in, it’s important to find an agent who can guide you through the entire process of buying or selling a home. Discount brokers are tempting because they save some money on the listing commission, but even one mistake (like pricing it too high) can cost you far more than the savings on the commission. 

Whichever type of agent you are looking for, it is important to keep in mind that choosing a good and experienced Realtor is more like choosing a good lawyer to advise you in legal matters than choosing a car dealership to buy a car from. You really need an experienced team on your side to help guide you through the stressful and sometimes confusing process of buying or selling a home. There are lots of details and plenty of places to make mistakes that can cost you a significant amount of money.

What to look for in an agent

The conventional wisdom is that it takes years for an agent to get enough experience to know what to look out for to truly represent you well. Years of experience have taught us what is normal in a negotiating process and what is out of the norm and allows us to push back or negotiate from a position of strength and knowledge.  Having an agent with a background in home construction really benefits you as either a buyer or seller. Because we have this unusual combination of skills and experience, we can quickly identify potential pitfalls or hidden gems, advise on what could be done to fix problems, and provide referrals to trusted contractors to do the work. The home inspection will of course be part of the process of buying a house once it’s under contract, but it can save time to have an initial assessment up front. With us, you can be sure that we are truly interested in serving your needs and going the extra mile for you, and not trying to close a deal as quickly as possible. That often leads to more work for us, but it means a better deal for you.