New House – A Diary (1) Select a Realtor
Buying and selling a house is a major decision for any family. We experienced such last and this year. Since our buying the first house in 2006, we have worked with four different real estate agents, and in two very distinct markets. This article is my two cents of how to select an agent during buying process.
The first question is: do I need a realtor? Just like “sell by the owner”, we have friends who bought house by themselves without help from a realtor. It is certainly feasible, and comes with a major benefit when competing with other buyers that the seller can save a significant commission (often 3% of sold price). Therefore your offer can be more attractive. So why not we ditch the middleman and work on our own?
The reason could be multiple: real estate market information, reasonable market analysis, and support during price negotiation. In summary, if you have access to these resources, you know where to look for the desirable house, where to position its price, and feel comfortable to negotiate price directly. Acting on you own may be the best option.
A caveat we realized recently is a realtor could be very valuable in a hot market such as the greater Boston area. The market is so competitive that an opportunity can come and go in a snap. Having a good realtor turned out to be critical that someone is out there looking out for you.
So here my tips how to select a good realtor when buying a house in a hot market:
- Find a full time realtor, you need to work with a realtor who can constantly check the market, promptly communicate with you so as to reach a decision. A part-time realtor probably can only work efficiently with limited clients.
- Check how long the realtor has been on the local market and how many properties he/she has bought or sold. There is no doubt knowing the local market is a key factor.
- Check with your realtor the list he/she currently has. The major reason we picked our realtor is he has many new builds listed, which indeed connected us with a builder directly. While you may often see that many thought a double agent is not a good choice for buyer, it could be otherwise in a different market.
- Check references. Feel free to inquire your realtor for a list of reference. Internet has been so powerful that you can also find many online feedbacks for particular real estate agent.
- Regardless of how good a real estate agent is, his/her goal is to reach a deal and get commission. A good agent will take your offer, align it with correct market expectation, and deliver a convincing presentation during negotiation.
My final tip of working with a realtor is: knowing what you want, use your realtor’s opinion to cross check with your expectation, but always stay with your heart.