A blog cannot deal with all aspects of a subject and is not intended to replace professional advice. It's purpose is to highlight information and identify areas of possible interest. Anyone wishing to discuss this blog or to make any comments or suggestions about this blog is invited to do so by either posting comments or emailing me directly.
February 23, 2011
Interviewing Real Estate Agents
Before you select a Calgary real estate agent to assist you with your home buying or selling needs, it's smart to interview a number of different candidates. This will help you determine with confidence whether or not you have the right agent for the job — and the right agent for you!
Ask friends, family members, neighbours and co-workers for recommendations of agents they have used in the past. You can also check out the Internet by searching for industry terms like "ABR" (an Accredited Buyers' Representative) or "Certified Condominium Specialist". If you are looking at selling a home, check out a few open houses and see what the agents are doing to get those homes sold. Are they hosting the open house or have they employed another agent? Does that agent have great sales skills or are they a novice? What is their marketing plan and does it appear effective in attracting buyers and buyers' agent attention? Open houses are typically a terrible way to find an agent to represent you as a buyer, since the agents in the open houses are contracted to SELL those homes. (If the agents sitting in open houses are not actively trying to sell that home to every prospect coming in and are just there "trolling for buyers", it probably speaks to their ethics and you likely won't want them to represent you — for buying or selling!)
Chances are your compiled list of agents will be agents from a number of different real estate firms (brokerages). Some may even be from the same brand but competing franchised offices. Research the various firms online and visit their websites for more information about each place and what they provide for their agents. The brokerage itself doesn't help in selling your home, but it does provide many of the services that the agent uses. Do they provide glossy office complexes or are they more in touch with today's agents' needs and are more virtual in nature? A small firm is just as effective as a large firm in getting your home sold — it all comes back to the individual agent and THEIR plan. Then, check out the agents' websites. "Google" them — you'll find they may have more than one website. These ideas can help you narrow down your options. Now, you are ready to set up some interviews.
During your meeting with an agent, ask what they can offer you that is different from other agents. How do they set themselves apart from their competition? What benefits do they promise and what limitations do they have? How did they gain their marketing background and/or their project management experience? In addition to their experience, what other certificates do they hold, or were they licensed years ago without upgrading their skills to a more senior license or acquiring additional, formal certifications? Inquire about their successes in the area of the city in which you are looking at buying or selling. Ask them for specific examples of transactions where the agent got the best price for their clients - and how it was achieved. Question the agent about challenges of the current market and how they can help you overcome those the challenges. Will you be working with that agent personally, or will you be assigned another co-worker? Ask them, after they have a contract, what are the next steps? What does the real estate agent know about available buyer incentives? Remember, experience is important, but you also want to know an agent is up-to-speed on today’s market and the factors that impact your selling and buying power.
You can also request references or testimonials from the agent’s past clients. Keep in mind they will only direct you to those who have had a good experience, but you can judge by the amount of positive feedback how someone performs on a regular basis. As you are talking with the agent, you’ll also get a feel for how you mesh with that person. This is important because your agent is going to be your trusted advocate and representative throughout the home buying or selling process. You should be completely comfortable with them. Does the agent listen to you? Ask you pertinent questions? Do you feel at ease with the agent? What concerns or reservations do you have about the agent? Do you trust their opinion and their ability to negotiate for you, and you alone? A home purchase or sale is a huge life decision and you should have someone you can depend on and be yourself with through every step of the journey — the ups and downs, the fun parts and the stressful times, start to finish.
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