Early in my career, I remember reading a statistic that really surprised me. In a large survey, real estate agents were ranked by consumers as one of the most despised professions. They were right up there with used car salespeople and telemarketers!
In my 11 years in real estate, I have seen some pretty dramatic examples of real estate agents acting like high-pressure sales people, so in a sense, I can see why consumer sentiment among them tends to be low. I have watched desperate agents try to put buyers into homes they don't really want, try to force people to uphold contracts that they want out of, go after people for petty commission issues, and more. The truth is that it doesn't take much to become a real estate agent in Minnesota - 90 hours of online coursework and a few tests are all you need to earn your license! With such a low bar of entry, how do you know what separates the good Realtors from the bad?
As one of the top performing sales teams in Minnesota, our group made it our mission from the very outset to do business differently; this isn't a sales pitch, it's just the truth. A Realtor can be one of two things for their clients: They can be an annoying, self-interested necessity that a buyer needs to get into homes, or they can be a secret weapon who skillfully guides somebody into the best possible outcome, creating opportunities for a consumer that they would never have without the partnership. We made a very clear decision to be the latter of the two.
If you're going to buy or sell a house, you may as well find a real estate agent that adds massive value to your purchase or sale, rather than one who pressures you into a decision in the interest of "results." Just like a great financial advisor, a good real estate team saves you time and money. In fact, they should be so good that you would never consider buying or selling with anyone else! For new or first-time home buyers or sellers, these may seem like unrealistic expectations, but you'd be surprised what happens when you expect more from your agents.
So, if with all of this said, how can you identify who you should partner with? Here is a short list of things I would consider before signing on the dotted line with a real estate agent or team.
1.) Look for Results
One of the most common disservices to clients I see are agents acting in their own self interest. This is usually a result of financial desperation, the sign of a realtor who lacks abundance in their career and desperately needs that commission check. When a realtor is desperate, you can literally feel it. They become pushy and disillusioned. Because of this, I would never partner with an agent who doesn't do a good amount of business. I recommend looking for an agent who sells at least 20 homes every year. When an agent doesn't rely on your commission check, it helps them truly put their clients' needs first, they have to be okay with or without the deal.
2.) Look for a Team Approach
The days of a solo agent being the best thing for the client are, quite literally, over. There is nothing wrong with working on your own, but the truth is that there are simply too many elements of a successful real estate transaction - sales, marketing, administrative, etc. - for one person to expertly handle. Sure, they might be able to do it all (which is impressive in and of itself) but not to the same level as a team that has specialized people working in each role. For example, our group has two dedicated marketing professionals, administrative professionals, and agents - all working together on behalf of our clients. This specialized approach gives people the most bang for their buck and ensures no stone is left unturned.
3.) Location Matters
I cannot stress enough how important it is to pick an agent who is local to the area in which you are buying or selling a home. Not only are local agents able to leverage their networks and reputation to your benefit, but they are also typically the first to hear about new opportunities and bring them to you.
4.) Look for a Name and a Reputation
Along the same lines, I will say that there are so many instances of the Hancock Group brand working to get a deal done for our clients - too many to count on both hands, even! Whoever you choose, make sure that they have a known reputation as well as the experience to know how to get deal done. They should also have good rapport among other local agents. So many times, our clients' offers get pushed to the top, because they know we have the ability to skillfully complete the transaction.
5.) Extensive Understanding of the Construction Process and the Intricacies of What Goes Into a Home
A good agent will be able to walk into a property and help you understand the quality and nature of work needing to be done. Truly high-caliber agents will be able to help you formulate a vision for what the potential of that property is, either for your own use or future resale. Additionally, they should be able to tell you off the top of their head what repairs and remodeling items might cost because they have done it with other clients so many times before.
The moral of the story: The quality of the agent you select will determine whether or not they are an anchor that weighs you down or a secret weapon that helps propel the results of your home sale or purchase to the next level. Choose wisely!