It’s not hard to find a real estate agent horror story in this day and age.
Unfortunately, the average buyer often puts more effort into finding someone to cut their hair than they do qualifying a real estate agent to work with for their home purchase.
Most sellers who put a little more time and effort into qualifying a real estate agent for their home sale will have a much better grasp of the concept that they’re literally hiring someone to do a job and will typically do a little more research before signing on the dotted line of the listing agreement.
So what can you do to protect yourself when you need to enlist the services of a real estate agent?
First and foremost, ask friends, family and colleagues for positive experiences they’ve had with a buying/listing agent. Don’t accept the old, “My friend, mom, cousin has a license, you should call them!”
Rather, only accept names from people who have had firsthand experience working through the buying/selling process with the named agent.
Googling the perspective agent and reading reviews never hurts, but reviews can be gamed fairly easily in this day and age.
You can also run a search on the Arizona Department of Real Estate’s website to see if the agent has had any disciplinary actions or current open complaints against them.
Lastly, make sure the agent you’re working with does this full time –if an agent is dedicating 40 hours a week to a boss somewhere else, can they really give you and your transaction the attention and management it deserves?
I personally suggest that clients take dual-agency off the table.
What is dual agency? In Arizona, it’s when one agent represents both sides of the transaction. It can also be when one brokerage has two differing agents representing each side of the party, but for this example, I’m using the one-agent-does-it-all example –- both forms are legal in Arizona.
Most agents love dual agency because it typically results in double the paycheck. Most of the general public doesn’t understand that when they permit dual agency, they are signing away some of their fiduciary rights, like loyalty.
Your agent is no longer your sole representation, but now acts as a middle man of sorts to facilitate the closing of the transaction.
If an agent gets cranky when you remove the dual agency option, I suggest looking for another agent who will keep your best interest ahead of the pursuit of a paycheck.
Pay attention to the way the perspective agent communicates. Do they only call when you like to text? Do they respond in a timely manner? Do they respond at all? Do they listen to the criteria that you sent them, or are they sending you homes that don’t fit what you’ve asked for?
The home buying/selling process is just that: A Process. It takes time, communication and teamwork.
If your agent can’t be bothered to respond in a timely manner when you’re trying to see homes, do you think they’ll be any different when the clock is ticking on imperative timelines that could jeopardize your earnest deposit? Make sure you demand the communication and performance you need to feel comfortable and represented in your buying process.
And if the agent you’re communicating with doesn’t deliver, protect yourself and find one who does.
Finding a quality real estate agent takes time and effort, but if you do your due diligence and follow these steps, you can exponentially increase your chances of having a great experience.
Danielle Racke is a broker and Realtor with Red House Realty specializing in homes with oversized garages. Information: bigassgaragehomes.com.