How to Choose a Good Realtor
Even in today’s version of the real estate industry of FSBOs and technology out the wazoo, most home sales and purchases are done the traditional way — by utilizing the services of a licensed real estate agent. Is it necessary or legally required to use a realtor to buy or sell a house in Hawaii? No, you can sell your house on your own (FSBO) or you can sell direct if you wanted to avoid paying 3-6% commissions and/or potentially lengthy listing times.
However, most people who buy and sell aren’t ‘motivated’ beyond normal levels or in a hurry to close a transaction. These folks generally operate in the retail pricing space and are content to act accordingly. This usually means working with an agent as their representation.
Let’s look at the Top 5 Reasons Why a Homebuyer or Seller Would Opt to Use a Realtor:
- Access to listed properties and historical data on MLS
- Familiarity with local contracts and other paperwork
- Familiarity with local specific housing or industry knowledge and trends
- Leveraging an agent’s time, mobility and other resources to maximize buying/selling efficiency
- Having someone else negotiate your purchase or sale
These are all solid reasons why using an agent might serve you well. Let’s now dig deeper…
Top 5 Criteria to Choosing the RIGHT Agent
It’s not just enough to decide that you want realtor representation. If you weren’t aware, there is no shortage of licensed agents in Hawaii, no matter which island you reside on. In fact, you probably walk by a dozen licensed agents everyday just going about your business. The young 20-something girl sitting next to you at the bus stop? Agent. The chatty guy at Starbucks ordering up a green tea latte? Agent. However, this is not to say they’re all the same.
Here’s a quick list of criteria to look for when choosing which real estate agent to hire. This is not a complete list but covers most of the big ticket items:
- Profession vs. Hobby. Some agents make their entire living helping others buy or sell real estate, while others use it as a supplemental source of income. Either is fine and respectable, but you’ll of course be dealing with different levels of experience. Speaking of which….
- Experience. Experience is important, HOWEVER it is not everything. Too much experience could actually make an agent complacent or unwilling to embrace new trends and/or technologies. Experience is great as long as it doesn’t also mean one has a closed mind (this goes for any profession).
- Get Geeky. There’s no way around it — technology rules the day. Can your potential agent pull up listings on their smartphone? Have documents ready to sign in the field on their new iPad? Pocket protectors aren’t required, but staying ahead of the tech curve today is a fantastic way for agents to set themselves apart from the crowd — and to provide you added value.
- Telling It Like It Is. How many times have you seen a house listed for sale $50,000 or even more above what you know its market value to be? Then you watch as week by week the list price is reduced until, incredibly enough (insert sarcasm), the price is dropped to market value and gets sold. Rocket science, I tell ya. Who on earth does this help? Certainly not the seller. But unless the inflated asking price was requested by the seller (which happens), then it just seems like a ploy to garner a higher commission. Don’t fall for that trap. Ask the tough questions and get someone who will tell you directly what your home is really worth.
- Like Me. This may sound trivial, but you should actually like the person you’re working with. After all, if you’re shopping for a new home, then you’re going to be seeing a lot of your agent, may even being driven around island. If you’re selling your house, then plan on communicating frequently with this person. You don’t need to share milk and cookies at the end of the day, but if you don’t like the realtor you hired — and no one likes everyone — then, believe me, it will just sour the entire experience.
There you have it. Have your own thoughts on the subject? Share below!