Choosing a Real Estate Agent (Read Time 2:50)

Do you need a real estate agent when you start looking for a house? What makes a good real estate agent? Is good relative to whether you are buying or selling?

 From my new Kindle eBook Buying a House Using Apps, Maps and Location Based Services: (In case you weren’t aware, you don’t need to own a Kindle, you can download free software for your PC, tablet or mobile from Amazon.)

“I’m very harsh on real estate agents. I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s because of how they call every small house ‘charming’ and every run-down house a ‘great fixer-upper’. Just once, I’d like them to show me a house and declare, ‘This one’s a piece of crap’.” – Stephan Pastis

I recently wrote a review on a new iPad application from Auckland Realtor, Barfoot & Thompson. You can read the review here. The application comes with a wide range of features and data, but it is only as good as the effort that each individual agent provides.

Barfoot App Attachments

Barfoot App Attachments

I found that some agents had the bare essentials, whilst others provided every bit of information they could, including council Land Information Reports, floor plans, photos, video and more. This can very quickly give you an idea of the professionalism of the agent who is selling the property, as well as the detail you need to evaluate the suitability of a property. It came as no surprise to me when I looked at the listing for the above property on the Barfoot app, that the agent who listed this property had a similar high level of detailed attachments on other properties she had listed.

Of course professionalism has two sides to it. As a buyer you might find that you can negotiate better deals with a not so good agent, whereas when you are selling, you want the best.

In the past I have worked with real estate agents and in some cases with their business coaches and I learned was that 80% of the sales are made not by 20% of the sales people, but more like 5% of them.

Many of the sales people do it as a hobby and aren’t too worried about how many properties they sell. Many are technophobic and are in the business as a social outlet. They enjoy meeting people and being active in something. These are gross generalizations, but having bought and sold several houses, I can say that in many cases I have been extremely frustrated by the people I had to deal with.

Some of the key reasons included not giving me all the information I needed. Taking me to properties that didn’t match my criteria (because they were desperate to sell them, or had the sole agency etc). Not knowing how to get to a property (surely they should all use GPS car navigation?) and not knowing the areas they were showing me houses in. Overselling the value of a property or trying to mislead me as to the reason it was on the market.

Obviously all real estate agents have web sites. Surprisingly many do not have applications, which is really interesting because those who do will have a competitive advantage because if you are not using an app from a specific Realtor, you will be looking at their competitors as well.

I have met very few really good real estate agents over the years and my personal preference is to do my homework first. One thing that can be useful is when you use an app or website to find a property and it is multi-listed, you can find to do a little research on the agent themselves. You then have a choice of which one you wish to use to view a property with. You can’t see the property with one and make an offer through another.

Beware of reviews of real estate agents that you can’t quantify. Review sites and apps like Yelp may not always have reviews that you can follow up on (they are typically anonymous) and often reviews may be fakes placed by people who haven’t actually used that company themselves (to buy or sell real estate).

Shreveport Real Estate Agent Reviews

Shreveport Real Estate Agent Reviews

Having a look through Zillow at Agent reviews it seems like every agent has either no reviews, or if they do, they are all 4 or 5 star. There are exceptions like this one, but they seem to be rare.

It’s funny isn’t it. If you were looking for a night in a hotel, sites like TripAdvisor are full of reviews, but when it comes to borrowing money up to your eyeballs, everyone’s a winner baby.

The best way to really check out an agent is to ask for references from them, or look for properties they have sold and make contact with the vendor or person who bought through them directly, then you won’t be sent to someone guaranteed to give them a review. When I owned rental properties I once rang to do a reference check on a potential tenant who let slip that he was the brother-in-law of the person I was asking about!

This is likely to be the biggest purchase you have made to date in your life. The agent walks away with a fat check and moves on, while you move in. If you’re employing staff you would do a reference check wouldn’t you? If you’re not convinced yet, check out this story from the New Zealand Herald in 2012 about the worst real estate agents in New Zealand. It might give you a few pointers.

This is one in a series of blogs about buying real estate through the use of location based services technology including web sites and applications. You will find more of them through this link. If you  know someone who is thinking of buying a new house, please share this with them. I’m sure they will thank you for it.

You might also like to leave a comment or share an experience. You don’t have to agree with me. You can also subscribe, if you don’t want to miss out on the next blog, or want to know when my eBook is coming out.

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About Luigi Cappel

Writer for hire, marketing consultant specialising in Location Based Services. Futurist and Public Speaker Auckland, New Zealand
This entry was posted in Buying a House, GPS, Location Based Consultant, Market Research, Mobile Apps, Real Estate, The Location Guru, Word of Mouth and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to Choosing a Real Estate Agent (Read Time 2:50)

  1. That is interesting about the real estate market. What do you think the interest rates will do to prices?

    Like

    • Luigi Cappel says:

      It depends IMHO totally on where you are and ultimately unless there is a shortage in the local market the higher the rate, the less people will offer for a property and the more likely people are to rent. Interest rates are of course negotiable and one of the things that really annoys me is having been with one bank for many years, I can still get a better rate with the same bank, thank I can going to my bank’s lending manager. Given that my bank then also gives my mortgage broker a commission, the whole situation is ridiculous. I know in some places in the US the buyer/borrower pays the broker, not so down here in New Zealand.

      Like

  2. I have had only one joint ownership property and the realtor was excellant. The interest rates were 28% so I told MR HUSBAND we better have a professional help us. WE DID. And the rest of the story. The property was sold in three days to a family member who were impressed with the professional. Yupper, in the wild west here in Canada….realtors rock.

    Like

  3. dexterhotel says:

    As a highly experienced Realtor with the requisite awards and classifications to show for it, I have found that at the end of the day, this is a referral based business. Relationships and reputation trump tech bells and whistles, each and every time.

    I conduct business in markets where home owners and buyers know who their community real estate players are like they know sports teams and top field performers. If you are not in one of those places, an excellent street level and unscientific method is to see who’s names are consistently found on For Sale signs throughout the neighborhood. But make sure there is an occasional “In Escrow” or “Sold” banner on top of those posts, as you don’t want to see many listings that are simply not moving. This is especially true when seeking a Sellers (listing) agent.

    For buyers, it’s a little more work, but your network is your first point of contact.. Once you have several names, the research is as simple as Google makes it. The best agents have a positive record of successful transactions, a strong online presence and always willing to refer you to the best fit if you are seeking a home in unfamiliar territory or type of property. The lakefront specialist may not be your condominium resource in the city, but the best, ethical and smart Realtor knows who is.

    A word of advice if I may. While many Realtors understand the value of information and putting out as much as possible about their listings, you will want your own representation with the offer. It is the job of the listing agent to sell the features functions and benefits of what you are looking at – your own agent’s value is in the negotiation and truth of that information.

    Like

    • Luigi Cappel says:

      Excellent advice and many thanks for sharing. I agree, having listings is not the same as sales. You can fool some of the people all of the time etc and even a bad sales person will get some sales. Word of Mouth and referrals are important and smart real estate agents will stay in touch after the sale. The agent who represented the vendor of the house I now live in came to see me a couple of times during the year after I bought, to make sure we were happy, even though there was nothing in it for her. During the negotiations she worked hard for her client, but also very fairly with us as the buyers.

      Like

  4. dexterhotel says:

    Reblogged this on dexterhotel and commented:
    As a highly experienced Realtor with the requisite awards and classifications to show for it, I have found that at the end of the day, this is a referral based business. Relationships and reputation trump tech bells and whistles, each and every time.

    I conduct business in markets where home owners and buyers know who their community real estate players are like they know sports teams and top field performers. If you are not in one of those places, an excellent street level and unscientific method is to see who’s names are consistently found on For Sale signs throughout the neighborhood. But make sure there is an occasional “In Escrow” or “Sold” banner on top of those posts, as you don’t want to see many listings that are simply not moving. This is especially true when seeking a Sellers (listing) agent.

    For buyers, it’s a little more work, but your network is your first point of contact.. Once you have several names, the research is as simple as Google makes it. The best agents have a positive record of successful transactions, a strong online presence and always willing to refer you to the best fit if you are seeking a home in unfamiliar territory or type of property. The lakefront specialist may not be your condominium resource in the city, but the best, ethical and smart Realtor knows who is.

    A word of advice if I may. While many Realtors understand the value of information and putting out as much as possible about their listings, you will want your own representation with the offer. It is the job of the listing agent to sell the features functions and benefits of what you are looking at – your own agent’s value is in the negotiation and truth of that information.

    Like

  5. Pingback: 6 Tips and a Deep Dive into Buying a House using Location Based Services | SoLoMo Consulting

  6. PrimeSuspect says:

    Thanks again Luigi!

    Like

  7. One Million Bloggers says:

    I’ve heard good and bad stories (i.e., positive and negative reviews) about real estate agents from friends. The more research you do in advance, the better.

    Like

  8. I always believe that when it comes to finding your real estate agent, it all starts with passion. If your agent is passionate about what he or she gets to do every day, then this is an agent you should consider having in your corner.

    Like

    • Luigi Cappel says:

      Thanks Kathleen, I totally agree. Passion is a top attribute. Passion resonates and will lead to repeat business and referrals. Passion for the job and passion for the clients. Its important that both the buyer and the seller are looked after. Whilst the vendor may be the one paying the real estate commission, in actual fact both parties are paying for it and both may become repeat clients in the future. I know of agents who have helped the same clients many times over their careers.

      Like

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