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Choosing Your Real Estate Partner

Five Critical Factors to Ensure Success when Choosing a Real Estate Professional

By Rosemary Comrie, GRI, CRS, CBR, SRES, ASP, President & Owner of Comrie Real Estate, an independent real estate firm catering to clients in Boston’s MetroWest.

Buying or selling a home can be a challenging journey that requires a strong partner to shepherd you through the myriad of logistics and strategies to help ensure a successful outcome.  There is no doubt that real estate transactions can be complex on multiple levels and making sure you have the right team can save you time and money.

Before you list your home for sale or start your journey toward that dream house, there are five key factors to consider. Although peoples’ objectives vary, consideration of these can alleviate potential hurdles and provide a more enjoyable real estate experience. From building trusted relationships to navigating the ever-changing digital landscape, it’s crucial to consider the following aspects when choosing your real estate professional.

  1. The Emotional Decision
  2. The Need for Expertise
  3. The Digital Marketing Experience
  4. The Deep Bench Value Chain
  5. The 24/7 Support System

1. The Social/Emotional Aspect –A Personalized Experience

Buying or selling a home is generally not a decision made lightly and, in fact, comes with more emotional weight than most any other investment, according to the Wall Street Journal.  The transaction can often be complicated by the myriad of emotions and processes involved.  Though many buyers and sellers may believe they’ve done their research and have come to reasonable and logical decisions, recognizing the emotional drivers can make a big difference.  That’s why it’s so important to choose an agent/broker who understands your personal motivations and can ask the right questions to make sure your conclusions are sound and your emotional drivers are in sync.

Taking the time to build a trust relationship with buyers/sellers almost always culminates in a successful transaction.  While that may sound simple, many broker/agents focus solely on the logistical minutia that surrounds a closing thereby missing the big picture.  A personal touch is what’s needed. Knowing a client’s motivations is paramount to delivering the right product, at the right time, at the right price. Perhaps you are looking for a home with a bigger yard in the suburbs. A true partner will make sure you know about things like a potentially longer commute. Conversely, if you are looking to downsize, your professional real estate team will understand the importance of helping with the overwhelming task of de-cluttering. True empathy for the buyer or seller is gained by this personal knowledge and with this comes a way to build a positive and strategic path.

An experienced broker/agent, whose focus is to provide personalized service and has taken the time to really get to know their client, will be able to navigate all of these very real emotional situations. By asking pertinent questions they will be able to steer the buyer or seller in a direction that results in a successful, and yes, enjoyable real estate transaction.

2. Backed by Knowledge and Expertise –Raising the Bar and Setting Expectations

Often recommendations for an agent are likely to come from friends and family.  That makes sense as a starting point, but each individual buyer and seller is unique.   This means some serious investigation is needed before making a commitment.  Start from the referral, perhaps – but take the time to dig deeper into the background and experience of the agent/broker. And try to learn everything you can about your market.  Check out websites like Zillow and Trulia but don’t consider those absolutes, as they typically calculate the value of a property based on square footage, not interior amenities such as upgraded kitchens, bathrooms appliances or finished basements.  Take a “boots on the ground” approach and walk potential neighborhoods. Look at other houses in the surrounding areas and review listing and sale prices.  That should give you a general idea of your starting position.

Once armed with this basic information, you need to find the broker/agent that fits your personality, has the right level of resources, and with whom you’re comfortable and confident in their abilities. Identify those agent/brokers that have current relevant listings and set up interviews.  Like any partnership, you’re looking for a person who meshes with your personality, has a reputation for ethical business practices, is flexible and who really understands your unique situation and goals..

Here are some questions for consideration:

  • How long has the broker/agent has been in the real estate business – generally speaking, a full time real estate professional will have a more in-depth knowledge of the market and its cycles.
  • How many homes did the agent/broker sell last year and what was price range/neighborhood?
  • Check for credentials – there are several, i.e. GRI (Graduate, REALTOR® Institute), CRS (Certified Residential Specialist), CBR (Certified Buyer Representative), SRES (Seniors Real Estate Specialist®), and ASP (Accredited Staging Professional®)
  • Has the agent received any awards or recent acclaim from their peers, i.e. Real Estate Person of the Year? What are other clients saying? Zillow agent reviews are a good frame of reference. What is their state ranking?
  • What digital media will the broker/agent use to help achieve your goals? Check out their website and online presence.
  • Does the broker/agent have a referral list of accredited vendors that are scalable in price and which can help you with issues ranging from major decisions such as selecting a mortgage broker or the right moving company for you – giving you the best folks from pest control to driveway maintenance to painters, and tree arborists?
  • Ask about their “hero” moment. When did they go above and beyond for a client? Did they stage a house in less than 2 hours when a potential buyer flew in for a last minute showing? How about that time they met the plumber at 2am to avoid freezing pipes during a Nor’easter?

The bottom line is you need a broker/agent who possesses the skills and knowledge necessary to help you achieve your real estate goals. A partnership built on open communication and clear objectives will be successful.

3. Marketing and Social Media Tools to Promote Quickly and Easily

Social media has upended traditional ways of marketing for both buyers and sellers.  Where print ads were once the norm, people are now using mobile devices to access just about everything at anytime.  Utilizing these numerous outlets can help sellers gain traction and help buyers make better-informed decisions.

For sellers, leveraging online experiences beyond just the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) in showcasing your home is a must.  For example, if your neighborhood enjoys highly desired amenities such as a nearby park, golf course, water feature, or village atmosphere, an aerial tour (via drone video) can be posted on Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook as well as the broker/agent’s website.  Though take care to be sure your broker/agent hires a professional for any media use. Your agent should also create and stream videos for properties, branding, and introductions, as buyers prefer to watch videos when evaluating potential properties.  It is crucial to have the right marketing vehicles to ensure your agent is getting in front of the right people.

Data analytics are key in determining which strategies are working the best for a particular property in a particular neighborhood.  Ask your agent about the numbers – real estate professionals love the numbers!

4. Supported by an Expansive High-Quality Value Chain –A Premium not to forgo!

As a buyer or seller, and sometimes both, you have a unique set of needs.  Your agent should have a fully vetted list of suppliers and vendors to help with any problem. Certainly a good mortgage broker is important but what happens when you need someone to move your baby grand piano or transport your extensive wine collection cross-country? If you are on a limited budget and a potential home needs some rehab, your agent should be able to connect you with a value-plus list of contractors that have been vetted for professionalism, pricing, and responsiveness.

Staging a home can also be a competitive advantage in some markets. According to a survey by the Accredited Staging Professionals®, staged homes spend half the time on the market versus non-staged homes. A high-value stager can be a key contributor to your real estate team and your agent should be well versed in the field, if not fully accredited.

Other services to expect include relocation advice, school/neighborhood assessments, home improvement specialists and anything from pest control to the noted local arborist. Remember, the key is to make sure your agent has done the heavy lifting of vetting so you don’t have to.

5. Agility and Flexibility in a Changing Environment – A Must Have!

The nature of the real estate market is more competitive than ever and the 24/7 cycle means you need a team of energetic, dedicated professionals. Buyers tend to want an immediate showing of a new property and your agent should be able to accommodate your schedule. Conversely, as a seller, your agent should not only monitor new leads but also be aware of any changes is the competitive landscape.

KYM or “Know Your Market” is a rule of thumb all agents should adhere to.  To truly have a successful real estate transaction, you need a professional who knows their market and is responsive and flexible to your goals. They should have strong industry relationships that can be leveraged on a moment’s notice to benefit their clients. Additionally, they should be well versed in a variety of topics like financing, community issues, regulatory hurdles, school statistics and general market knowledge.

In Summary

The real estate market is constantly evolving and your agent needs to evolve as well. From the technological advances in marketing to being an expert in all facets of the process, it’s crucial to pick the right partner. Make sure they understand your emotional needs, are experts in their field, are up to date with the latest technology, have deep vendor relationships that can be leveraged and are strong communicators who put your needs first. Keeping these five factors in mind when choosing a real estate professional will help ensure a smooth, successful transaction.

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