1. Are you a Realtor or an agent? Most folks probably don’t realize that there is a definite difference between the two. A person who joins the National Association of Realtors is bound by the code of ethics of the association and must conform their conduct to meet its ideals or face expulsion from the group. Only a person who is a member of this group can call themselves a Realtor. A person who is not a member cannot call themselves a Realtor. They are classified as an agent, and are not bound by the code of conduct. Their morals are their own and there is no governing body to chastise them for not acting with good ethics.
2. Are you operating in your area of expertise? Normally, it is considered unethical for a Realtor to list or sell property in an area that is out of their area of expertise. Due to the current recession, many Realtors are attempting to sell property in areas they know absolutely nothing about. Every market is different and it is impossible for any Realtor to do a good job in an area they are not intimately familiar with. If you are thinking of purchasing property in Big Bear Lake and your Realtor is from Los Angeles, do both of you a favor and ask your Realtor to refer you to somebody who is local and can adequately represent you. If you use an out of area Realtor, you are in dire risk of being poorly represented.
3. Are you a full time, professional Realtor? This question is very important as it establishes whether the Realtor in question is equipped to serve you in a proficient manner. A great many people in the industry are only part time agents. They usually work full time somewhere else and only dabble in Real Estate on the weekend. Beware of these folks. Anybody who is not working full time as a Realtor is not in a position to know the market like they need to in order to provide professional service. I work a minimum of forty hours a week in real estate and it is difficult for me to keep on top of everything that goes on. How is somebody who only dabbles going to be able to do it?
4. Are you experienced in this type of transaction? This question is of extreme importance if you are planning on purchasing a bank owned or short sale property. Both of these properties differ greatly from a traditional sale and using somebody who is not familiar with the pitfalls of these transactions is a surefire recipe for disaster. How would you feel if you lost your deposit because the Realtor you were using did not realize the contingency periods are much shorter on a bank owned purchase? If the Realtor you are dealing with has never successfully closed a short sale or REO, it is in your best interest to find somebody who has.
5. How many hours a week do you spend previewing property? I spend, on average, around eight hours a week making sure I see every new home that comes on the market. I do this so I can be sure I am an authority on every home for sale in this market. Just because you have spent hours scouring the internet, does not mean with a certainty that you know all the best properties. Many times a poor house will have great photos and a great house will have poor photos. Also, it is usually impossible to tell what the neighbors are like or the location in general. Your Realtor should know every facet of the area they specialize in. They will be able to tell you about the characteristics and pro’s and con’s of every home you are considering. When I show property, the majority of the time, the house my clients purchase is one I recommended. Because I have seen every house in person, I know which homes are the best values. This is something only a dedicated professional can offer.