By Fred Golden
The Field-Golden Team
Prudential Douglas Elliman
If you needed heart surgery, would you pick a name from the phone book? Of course not, you would most likely ask friends or relatives and your family doctor for their recommendations. Buying or selling a home may one of the most significant financial decisions of your life and you should not rely on just anyone to help. Whether you are buying or selling, the agent that you work with will be critical to your success. Often people feel that the process is simple and that they can do it themselves. Statistics have shown that nearly 90% sellers and 80% of buyers use an agent to help accomplish their goal. If you are going to have help, shouldn’t it be an expert?
How to find the right agent? Recommendations from friends and family are a good source, but only if they have actually worked with the agent in question. Friends of friends and relatives do not necessarily make good agents. Recommendations from real estate attorneys and mortgage brokers are often helpful. Agents that work for firms with a “good reputation” in your neighborhood can also be a starting point.
If you are a buyer, you want an agent that knows the neighborhood and the homes and residential buildings in the area. If you are planning to purchase a co-op or condo, you need someone well versed in the process, someone that will work to get you approved. You should also be certain that they are familiar with the financing process and can help you find financing, if necessary, and understand the current mortgage possibilities in your area. If you are planning to purchase a fixer-upper, do they understand 203(k) financing? If your credit is an issue, can they direct you to the proper lender? If you have great credit, can they help you get the lowest rate? From a seller’s perspective, will they be able to help a potential buyer complete the purchase of the seller’s property?
It is usually best to work with an agent that is a full-time agent. Someone that is willing and able to devote the necessary time to getting the job done. What is their experience, both in and out of real estate and how can that experience be applied to help you? Financial experience, construction experience, decorating experience, etc., these and others can all be useful. Do they have the contacts that you might need, attorneys, mortgage lenders, appraisers, inspectors, et al?
Do they have the contacts with other local agents that will generate potential buyers, or access to listings that may not be advertised or are not on the MLS? Will they communicate frequently and effectively? Will they give you the bad news as well as the good? If you are a seller, can they provide a real marketing plan? Will they actually show your home, or just put a lock-box on the property and wait for others to show it?
If you are a buyer, will they actually put in the time to work with you, or will they send you to open houses alone or wait for you to ask about seeing an advertised property? Being an effective agent in today’s market is hard work. Be convinced that the agent you select is willing to make it work for you.
Fred Golden can be reached at (917) 620.4907. Prudential Douglas Elliman is an independently owned and operated member of Prudential Real Estate Affiliates, Inc., a Prudential company. Equal Housing Opportunity.