Early this week I had the pleasure of meeting a great couple who were looking for a new buyer’s agent in my area. They had been working with a different Realtor for almost a year and had not had any success in purchasing a vacation home in Big Bear. As I listened to their story, it became more and more evident that they had been using somebody who was not versed in the art of being a superior agent for their client’s.
Many Realtors seem to think that all there is to representing a buyer is getting them in the car and opening the front door of the listing for them. They don’t do the things that they need to do to insure their client is represented in a quality manner. In order to clarify my statements, I am going to list what I feel are the five most important traits of a fantastic buyer’s agent.
1. Listen carefully to what your client’s have to say to you. You are the expert and they are depending on you to find them the home that best fits their needs. If you don’t take everything they say into account, you will waste hours of their time, showing them properties they are never going to buy. When I took the couple out I mentioned above, the Wife said to me “ Wow, Izzy, we have seen more good properties in one day with you than we did in a year with the other guy!” All because I stopped talking and listened to what was being said to me.
2. Know your inventory. This is the most important part of your job. Every buyer in the world is online and looking at all the listings every day. Many times, they will see a property before you do. Mainly because you are playing with your kids after work while they are scanning the web looking at everything for sale. Redfin, Zillow, Trulia, etc are able to pull the listings off of the MLS where home buyers can see them. In order to have better knowledge than your clients, you need to get off your butt and actually go out and look at the properties in person. The pictures usually don’t tell the whole story, and if you can fill in the blanks, you have gone a long way in proving your worth. If you know the five best deals in each price range, you are on your way to being a major asset to your client’s.
3. Understand your market. Are home values in a particular neighborhood going up or down? Have any homes nearby sold recently? If so, what did they sell for? Are there more or less homes for sale than other areas? If so, why? Are there any issues with noise or the road being busy? In short, you need to know your market to the utmost of your ability. How can you tell a buyer a house is a good deal or not if you don’t know what is going on in that market? You can’t.
4. Be proactive. Study all applicable MLS’s every day. Make sure you are aware of anything that could interest your client and get them that information ASAP. If something looks especially good, jump in your car and drive out to see it. Take your camera or video camera with you. Get your buyer the information so they can move quickly if they need too. The great deals don’t last long and an hour delay can be the difference between your client getting a solid buy or being left out in the cold.
5. Sharpen your negotiating skills. Once you have found your clients a home they want to buy, it is up to you to get them the best price possible. This doesn’t mean you just take 20% off the price and go from there. In many cases, you need to have enough market savvy to properly advise your clients what to do. If a home is already priced to sell and is garnering a great deal of interest, coming in low could be the worst thing you could possibly do. You need to be able to tell your clients the truth of the situation and help them the write the best offer possible to get them the home. If you are not good at the rest of the list, you will not be good at this.
The world of real estate is filled with agent’s who have cars and electronic key boxes that can open doors. They often have lots of little letters next to their names and pictures of themselves holding dogs. Many of them have been in business for years and can manufacture cheerful banter. They can write an offer and fax it over to another office. Anybody can do these simple tasks. It is the Realtor who takes the time to perfect his craft and put in the work to be excellent that you should pursue. Don’t be pulled in by the glamour shot taken at the mall or the fancy business card. Ask some questions and make sure you feel confident the person you are talking to can do a great job representing you. It’s important.