May 20, 2008

Buyers Can Be Picky When Choosing a Realtor®

istock_000004305339xsmall.jpgAccording to a recent article found at Inman News, Realtors® are making less this year than they did last. Those with two years of experience or less fared the worst, while those with 16 or more years of experience fared best.

Given the state of most real estate markets, these results aren't surprising. Experienced agents know what they're doing, so they know how to find business and get satisfied return customers. Even though they may be closing fewer transactions then they did last year, and even though each of those transactions may be worth a little less, they've weathered down markets before and will probably come out alright on the other side.

This is all good news if you're a buyer. After all, most agents aren't struggling to get enough listings, they're struggling to find buyers to purchase them. That puts buyers in a prime position to get the best possible service. Here are a few tips on what to look for:

  • Personal service. As veteran Realtor® Mark Nash explained to me, the best personal service often comes not from the top producing agents, but the midrange producers. That's because top producers may have assistants that show you homes, answer your calls, and might handle everything up to writing the offer. As a result, the experienced agent or broker knows less about your needs and whether the home you're considering meets them. Make sure the person you hire is with you every step of the way.

  • Experience and expertise. Veteran agents have years of experience, but you want to make sure they've been in your current market long enough to know the ins and outs. Also, ask about special certifications -- they may be an indicator of specific experience and a commitment to the profession.

  • Lower fees. Though the seller's agent traditionally gets paid a 5-6% commission that he or she splits with the buyer's agent, there's nothing dictating these amounts. Don't be shy about negotiating for less, especially if you're thinking about buying a listing from the agent's brokerage. If this isn't your first purchase and you're staying in the area, you may be able to get a discount if you list your old home and buy a new one using the services of the same agent.

Alayna Schroeder