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How to Find And Keep A Great Real Estate Agent

Whether you are a renter about to take the plunge into homeownership, or you’re an investor hoping to find the perfect properties to add to your portfolio, it all starts with having a great realtor.

 

A strong relationship with an experienced and knowledgeable agent can be a vital asset for any real estate investor, but finding the right agent for your needs and personality can be tricky at times. Personality, knowledge of the area, and experience should all factor into your decision when choosing a real estate agent with which to work.

 

Don’t Settle:

You wouldn’t enter into a long-term relationship on the first date, nor would a business owner hire the first guy off the street that your friend’s cousin’s boyfriend recommended. No, you would you would interview multiple candidates and pick the best one. However, many people make the mistake of not applying this to their real estate agent search. Finding an agent to walk you through a financial and life-altering decision requires more than simply going with the first person you find with a real estate license.

 

First-Time Buyers:

Buyers and investors have different priorities and goals when purchasing, so finding an agent that seems in-tune with your needs is key. If you are a renter who has been saving to buy, the process can be an emotional and even overwhelming one.

 

It will behoove you to pair up with an excellent realtor who can help steer you in the direction of the wisest investment for your price range. A good realtor will hold your hand as a first-time buyer and walk you through the process, reminding you to focus on non-negotiables rather than getting distracted by the shiniest amenities or best landscaping.

Ask Questions:

  • How long have you been in the real estate business?

  • How long have you worked in this area?

  • How flexible is your schedule? [Particularly important for newer agents who may have another job on the side as they’re getting started.]

  • What's the average price range of houses your clients generally sell/buy?

  • What’s your preferred method of communication and what’s your response time for a callback?

  • How long does the home buying process usually take for you and your clients?

  • Will you provide referrals and recommendations for lenders, home inspectors, contractors, etc.?

 

Investors:

Investors should be particularly choosy when it comes to finding the right realtor. The industry is surprisingly full of realtors that may be great for homebuyers, but lack the experience or knowledge to secure a great investment property--many do not even know how to calculate a cap rate or ROI.

This naturally means that a recommendation from a friend or colleague who is not an investor may need to be vetted to ensure that the agent truly has had experience with buying investment property. Thankfully, that doesn’t mean family and friend recommendations are useless, ask them what they loved about the agent they personally used. Facts such as how quickly the agent scheduled showings or responded to text messages are huge factors in the buying process--after all a distracted agent can cost you a great deal--so having firsthand knowledge about these areas is key.

Ask Other Investors:

Whether you are a part of a social media group for investors and landlords, or you join a networking event in your area, it’s vital to make connections with others in your area. Find a mentor and get referrals for agents. This relationship can prove invaluable throughout your time as an investor, from sharing tips and tricks on the current market, to finding the right property manager, being able to bounce ideas off of an industry authority (or setting yourself up as one for others) is crucial for your long-term success. Bonus, if you are attending an in-person meet-up you may find that many investor-focused real estate agents themselves frequent these functions. Once you’ve found great leads, be sure to interview them to suss out their experience in the area, their time working with investors and landlords, and their general personality. If you’re in a business relationship for the long haul, you will want to get along nicely.

Keep Your Relationship Strong:

The right investor-agent relationship can make magic happen when it comes to long-term ROI; the agent gains a consistent source of income and the investor gains a partner who is proactively keeping their nose to the ground and devoting time to find a great lead for their investor. After you have taken the time to find a good realtor, stick with them alone. Focus on building the relationship and be loyal. Unless your operation is big enough that you truly need multiple listing agents, don’t use more than one. It’s not fair or ethical to make an agent do the legwork only to have you use a different realtor for the next deal, and it’s likely that many agents have been burned this way and will not devote as much time to one particular client if they get the impression they are not the only agent in the mix. Tell your agent that you aren’t working with anyone else and even consider signing a buyer-broker agreement, it will give them the confidence to start devoting hours to helping you without fear of getting no compensation in return.

Final Thoughts:

Whether you’re a landlord, investor or simply a renter about to buy your first home, finding the right real estate agent can seem daunting at first. Luckily, it’s not as scary as it may seem. With some baseline strategies, a few choice interview questions, and some great references in your back pocket, you can come into the buying process ready to find the perfect deal you’ve been waiting for.

 

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