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Who Is Your Realtor Working For? You or Their Commission
When you hire a real estate agent to list your home, how do you know you can trust them? If your agent is only motivated strictly by their pocketbook, what would be the ramifications?
Historically, consumers have ranked real estate agents just above used car salesmen in relation to integrity and trust. Hopefully, in recent years this perception has changed. I’m afraid, though, it hasn’t changed all that much.
Before I address the two questions in the first paragraph, let me just say upfront my intention is not to criticize real estate agents or to throw anyone under the bus. The purpose of this article is to inform and empower people who are contemplating hiring a real estate professional, or who are currently working with one.
Ways to Test Your Agent’s Trustworthiness
#1 Determine Their Motivation
If you are pre-approved for a certain price range, as an example, $400,000 try testing your agent’s intentions by telling them that you are considering purchasing a home in the $200,000 price range. The reason is to stay in a more affordable range. If the agent is pushy or tries to drive you up into a higher price range without a reasonable explanation, then question this motivation. If the agent treats you with less respect after learning you want to stay in a lower price range, then you are probably working with an agent who will make decisions based on their own needs. A good agent will treat all their clients with respect, regardless of price range. And they will put the interests of the client before their own.
#2 Ask the Agent Questions on How They Handle Confidential Matters
Good real estate agents understand what is confidential and what is not. What they should and can disclose and what contractually and ethically they are required to withhold. For example, a good listing agent will never disclose the motivation of the seller. They can only to this when given permission by the seller in writing. Therefore, if a seller is getting a divorce, or needs to move quickly due to any reason, this information should never be disclosed to another party. When an agent tells a potential buyer that a seller needs to get out of the home quickly and will look at any reasonable offers, this information tends to drive down initial offers. Be sure your agent will not say or do anything that would jeopardize getting the most for the home.
#3 Check Out Reviews and Talk to Past Clients When Possible
Today it’s easier than ever to check out reviews and past sales on real estate agents. The Internet is a good source and tool to do this. Sites like Realtor.com, Zillow and Trulia typically verify the reviews and testimonials, so they are pretty reliable. You can tell a lot about an agent by their online presence. Check and see how active the agent is online. Do they have a blog, interact with the public, provide good advice and information. How customer service driven do they appear? These are all things to look for when checking out an agent online.
#4. When You Have Concerns Get a Second Opinion
This may seem to be a logical thing to do, but if you seek out council from the wrong individuals it can cause confusion and frustration. People always seem to talk to their family members, like uncle Bob. Unless the family member is a professional, this is not recommended. In addition, make sure the family member is trained or a good business person with proven skills. Make sure you talk with someone you respect. Remember, everyone has an opinion, especially when it comes to real estate.
Keep in mind it may not be the best thing to seek advice from another real estate professional in your area. First of all, most states prohibit real estate professionals to offer advice to individuals they are not representing. Especially giving advice to those who are represented by another real estate agent. Also, the other local agent might be motivated to get your business or pick you up as a client and will tell you whatever is necessary to make that happen. Out-of-state agents could be a possible resource for you or researching the topic online usually offers good insight.
The Ramifications Could Cost Thousands
If your agent isn’t looking out for your best interest at all times it could cost you thousands of dollars, even the sale of your home. What that would mean for you and your family are far reaching, so don’t take the chance. Test your agent, ask questions and if you’re unsure, move on to someone else. It will not be worth the risk to work with an agent you don’t trust or to continue in a working relationship with someone that causes you to be uneasy and concerned.
The stress and pressure you can sometimes experience while selling a home can be great and the emotions can sometimes run high. Reaching out to others who can offer a different perspective and be objective may be just what you need.
As always, I’m here to help, so don’t hesitate to give me a call.