Boom market, bubble or simply a seller’s market, whatever you call today’s real estate market, homes are selling for record prices and bidding wars have become the norm. Regardless of whether you’re buying or selling, finding a reputable and experienced agent to represent you is critical, especially now.
The real estate profession is filled with people hoping to be part of the Bay Area’s current gold rush, the real estate boom. It’s also filled with perennial professionals who have learned to market in down times as well as negotiate the best prices during peak times. As a home seller or as a home buyer, your first bit of shopping should be for one of the true pros.
According to the National Association of Realtors, a professional realtor will sell your home for almost 25 percent more (based on median sale prices) than an owner who goes it alone. That more than makes up for the 6 percent commission.
In our seller’s market, a Realtor may seem less relevant. But Realtors are experienced in traversing the legal landscape of selling or buying a home. Also, most buyers these days (about 80 percent) are going through agents, and they are typically only showing homes that are listed by fellow agents. The Balance.com has a comprehensive list of what selling agents offer, which includes marketing, staging, pricing help and legal guidance.
For buyers, a buying agent provides research, advises on, writes and presents offers, communicates with the selling agent and is an ally right up until closing.
How does one find a good real estate agent?
Bankrate.com suggests that when shopping for a Realtor, you:
- Talk with recent clients.
- Look up the licensing.
- Pick a(n award) winner.
- Select an agent with the right credentials.
- Research how long the agent has been in business.
- Look at their current listings.
- Ask about other houses for sale nearby.
Talk with recent clients
As when you hire any professional, ask for referrals. Ask their recent clients about asking price vs. sale price. Ask about time on the market and ease of closing.
Look up the licensing
In California, Realtors are licensed by the California Bureau of Real Estate. You can verify licensing here.
Pick an award winner
This one can be tough. There are only so many awards to go around and those Realtors can only handle so many clients. But if you go through the lists of National Association of Realtors honorees, you might choose to work with one of their agency colleagues. Typically, honest and reputable agents will only work for honest and reputable firms.
Select an agent with the right credentials
Bankrate decoded some of the credentials
CRS (Certified Residential Specialist): Completed additional training in handling residential real estate.
ABR (Accredited Buyer’s Representative): Completed additional education in representing buyers in transactions.
SRES (Seniors Real Estate Specialist): Completed training aimed at helping buyers and sellers in the 50-plus age range.
Research how long the Realtor has been in business
If your Realtor survived the market crash in 2008, they have withstood the ultimate test of time. If they are a Johnny come lately, you might want to rethink it, unless they are backed up by an experienced broker.
Look at their current listings
You want to hire an agent who is familiar with your areas and who works within your price range. If you have the lowest-priced listing on their roster, it might not get the attention of other, higher-priced homes.
Ask about other homes nearby
Ask your agent about “comps” or comparable properties in your area or desired area. It will give you an idea of whether the agent is familiar with your area.
Featured image via American Advisors Group (AAG.com).