Owning and Renting Property

Buying or Selling? How to Find a Realtor

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Once you’re ready to buy or sell your home, the decisions and to-dos seem to snowball: find a realtor, narrow down neighborhoods, evaluate the housing market, get finances in order…the list goes on. There are many advantages to working with professional real estate agents — and some important legal and financial details you need to know.

If you’re the buyer

Why hire a realtor? A professional real estate agent can walk you through the entire process and consult the multiple listings directory for you to help you narrow down your choices. A good agent:

Knows the local real estate market as well as recent selling trends.
Is informed about a buyer’s common concerns like schools, tax rates and public transportation.
Is experienced with the types of services you need as a home buyer.
Is tuned in to your tastes and needs in a new property.
Can readily explain real estate and mortgage terms as well as technical processes such as the financial requirements for a down payment and steps involved for a loan approval.

If you’re the seller

This often involves more work on your agent's part — everything from setting the sale price of your home, marketing it both online and in print, running open houses, speaking with potential buyers and negotiating every aspect of the sale. To sell your home as soon as possible and at a price that meets your needs, you need a real estate agent to successfully:

Effectively evaluate the local market to help you set the right listing price.
Advise you on how to best prepare and stage your home for showings.
Coordinate the preparation and review of all needed forms and documents.
Create engaging advertising material and arranging photographs.
Consistently place ads on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS).
Coordinate showings of your property and holding open houses.
Manage the coordination, evaluation and negotiation of offers and bids.
Strategize all requests made while in escrow (e.g., reducing the purchase price due to repairs revealed in the inspection).
Plan for, coordinate and attend the closing.

How to find a realtor (but not just any realtor)

It takes a blend of effective personal communication skills, a dose of technical expertise and solid business savvy to be a successful in the realty business. So whether you are buying or selling, if you’re wondering what to look for in a realtor, this universal set of qualities provides an excellent guide:

He or she is in the full-time business of real estate — you don't want a dabbler or part-timer.
A person of integrity, who has a solid reputation in the community and is well-connected to other professionals in the real estate and related fields.
A strong sales record.
Licensed by your state, meaning the agent has met minimum levels of education, training and testing. You'll get someone with even more education if you hire a "broker" (someone with the power to oversee ordinary agents).
A member of a trade association such as the National Association of Realtors (NAR), meaning the agent is privy to listings, market information and other data that nonmembers may not be able to obtain.
A recipient of additional credentials and training (look for initials on their business cards — for example, NAR offers such credentials as a "GRI" (Graduate Realtors Institute) or the even more advanced "CRS" (Certified Residential Specialist).)

How to choose a realtor who works for — and with — you

There are a lot of benefits of working with a real estate agent. They can save you a lot of time, money and headaches as you go through the process. But in addition to the business skills and industry accreditations, you ultimately want a real estate agent who will:

Openly listen to your needs, answer your questions, provide pros and cons, and address your concerns.
Consistently keep you updated on any changes or issues that come up during the entire time you are working together.
Always keep your interests in mind and successfully advocate on your behalf when working with the other party.
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