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Buyer’s Guide to Selecting a Real Estate Agent

With the evolution of the real estate industry and the advent of websites like Zillow, Redfin, and Nextdoor, popular sentiment seems to be that the buyer puts in a majority of the effort up front in terms of searching for properties, visiting open houses, and narrowing down choices, and agents are only needed for final walk throughs and writing up offers.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Of course, that doesn’t prevent many buyers from taking their real estate journeys alone. And if agents are mostly providing services that are offered by online, public real estate portals and using tools that can be accessed by any buyer, what was once considered high-value service has essentially become a commodity.

But you will always get a better deal on a home in every possible way when you go with an agent who ups their game and provides an even higher level of service. This is true even for aspects of the process that many buyers can’t fathom or don’t anticipate. Here are just a few of the roles a good agent can play for you:

Local Economist

A good agent should be a subject matter expert on transactions and active listings in the buyer’s neighborhood and area of interest. They should know current pricing trends without looking them up online, and they should be familiar with the active buyer pool.

Networking Magnet

A good agent should know other active and high-profile agents in the local area and should be able to build professional relationships with them to gain an advantage for their buyer clients in gathering property information and pricing.

Renovation Guru

A good agent should be able to advise clients on the level and quality of prior remodels of the property as well as whether future expansions or remodels might be feasible, what they would cost, and how much they would add to the property's value and improve the buyer’s quality of life.

Bearer of Less-Than-Good News

A good agent should be aware of any feature that materially impacts the value of the property and cannot be modified – such as proximity to high power lines, highways, busy streets, and commercial properties, or daily traffic patterns, just to name a few. And a good agent doesn’t hesitate to let the buyer know.

** I have personally provided consultation to buyers who bought their homes before coming to me and now have to make tough choices of whether to remodel or do a quick flip and buy something that better fits their needs or is a more feasible candidate for remodel. **

So what does all of this translate to in terms of actionable tasks you should expect from your real estate agent? Here’s a checklist of what I provide for my clients:

  • When clients are at the early stage of search be able to provide very quick pros and cons of new active listings of interest;

  • Visit every listing of interest with you and deliver the good and bad news about the homes;

  • Point out potential updates and needed renovations, complete with ballpark cost estimates;

  • Review disclosures and reports to inform you if there are any red flags;

  • Build a relationship with the listing agent and extract as much information as possible to give us an advantage (also handy once an offer is being negotiated);

  • Call around to get real-time, reliable data on price, offers, and other details on all nearby pending sales, and use it to create a very competitive offer strategy;

  • Continue the conversation with the listing agent to find out any last-minute details that could help us with our offer;

  • Write up a complete and very professional looking offers and get them executed;

  • Keep in touch with the listing agent after submitting the offer to put you in a winning position;

  • If our offer is rejected, extract and record all the details of the winning offer to inform our next offer.

  • Once successful in getting a house provided advice and consulting on remodels and if need be manage the entire renovation project.

I repeat these steps with every offer I make, and that’s why we tend to arrive at the best price and best outcome for you.

It comes down to a simple question: “Who would you hire?” One of the 99% of agents who deliver commodity services at discounted rates, or one of the 1% who deliver a deeper level of service that results in added value for you on what is perhaps the largest financial investment of your life.

Now that you understand the process, I encourage you to take advantage of the effort a good agent brings to the table — and maybe the commission will turn out to be a bargain!

Want to hear more? Contact me anytime for a consultation, and stay tuned for a future blog when we explore how a good agent puts in extra work for seller clients.

Client Testimonial

Don’t just take my word for it. Hear about the value I provide from one of my buyer clients!

“Before I met Ajay, I was one of those homebuyers who thought they could find a good deal on Zillow/Redfin and call a real estate agent just to work out the offer and fine print. Working with Ajay taught me the value of a good agent. Ajay is able to deliver on all the four roles mentioned above that very very few agents possess. I ended up closing on a house in Monte Sereno at a great price, and because of Ajay, I didn’t have to settle for less than what I wanted in the home.” - Munish K.
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