Whether you are buying or selling, you are about to enter what may very well be the largest financial adventure of your life!
So how do you hire the right person to help you with both the business end and roller coaster of emotions that are involved in this process?
A good place to start is to look for the word Realtor®. Did you know that not everyone with a Real Estate License is a Realtor®? Realtors® have made a promise to uphold a strict code of ethics and to protecting the right of real estate ownership. Right now, your Realtors® are lobbying Washington, D.C. to protect your home ownership tax deductions. That is a lot of power on your side.
According to the National Association of Realtors, most buyers simply call the name on the sign and most sellers list with the first licensee to return their call. While I support the practice of promptly returning phone calls, I believe there is a lot more to it than that.
As a buyer, when you call the name on the sign, you are calling a person already under contract to look after the seller’s best interest. In Alaska, Realtor fees are negotiated when the seller lists the house. Those fees are traditionally paid by the seller, so as a buyer you are not saving yourself any money when you chose to work with the seller’s licensee instead of hiring your own representation.
If you are buying or selling, start by hiring your own Realtor. Check with friends and family for their recommendations. Visit with two or three of those. Remember, this is a job interview and should be treated as such.
Ask questions such as:
- How long has your Realtor been in the business? Ask them about their awards. Production awards are typically handed out by the franchise or brokerage, but there are also awards for community service, etc. As a favorite Colonel once told me, “Generals don’t wear medals out of vanity, you want the soldiers following your lead to know this is not your first battle!”
- As for your Realtor’s credentials. Along those lines, education is important. Look for the “alphabet soup” of credentials after the Realtor’s name on their business card. Things like CRS (Certified Residential Specialist), ABR (Accredited Buyers Representative), and GRI (Graduate Real Estate Institute) are some of the more highly recognized credentials for a Realtor. These indicate a Realtor who takes their career seriously, values continuing education, and has taken the time stay up on current trends in the real estate market. You want to work with someone who goes above and beyond.
- Ask your Realtor what you get for your money and how much of that goes to pay the buyers licensee. Realtor fees nationwide average between five and seven percent. The listing Realtor should be willing to pay the selling Realtor 50 percent. If they are paying less than that amount, it may reduce the number of times your home gets shown.
- Ask the listing Realtor if there will be any additional fees and what they are.
- Ask about the configuration of the team that will work with you. Do you want a large and more impersonal team, where you list with a senior licensee and are passed to a transaction coordinator, then to a closing coordinator? Or do you prefer a more intimate approach? Just remember that, whether you are comfortable with the “big box store” team or a more intimate “boutique” style Realtor, they should have professional photographers, house cleaners, and repair contractors on their side available to go to work for you.
Look online to check out each Realtor you are interested in working with. Check out their Facebook page and other social media. Look at their current listings. If you do not get a good feeling after the interview, then chances are this will not improve through the process of working for you.
Finally, and most important, chose the Realtor who takes time to LISTEN to you and is dedicated to helping you reach your goals. Whether you buying or selling, you want the most qualified and professional person on your side and that starts when you choose a Realtor!
Editor’s Note: Sherri Sapp is a licensed Realtor with RE/MAX Eagle River, Inc. She was inducted into the RE/MAX Hall of Fame in 2011. She is an accredited buyer representative as well as a certified residential specialist. Reach Sapp via email at: [email protected]. Her phone number is 907-317-6302.