The top 10 things home buyers and home sellers expect from a real estate agent. With apologies to David Letterman, we offer this list that we have gleaned from a variety of sources.
1. Immediate Access and Response
2. Honesty and Trustworthiness
3. Good Communication Skills and Technical Savvy
4. Experience and Education
5. Balances Professionalism with Friendliness and Assertiveness
6. Knowledge of Local Neighborhoods
7. Pricing Guidance
8. Solid Negotiation Skills
9. Wide Network of Industry Contacts
10. Likability and Sense of Humor
Letís examine each of these attributes.
Immediate Access and Response
Real estate agents should be available to their customers whenever the customers need them. Agents work long, sometimes crazy hours, including every weekend, but they knew that was the deal when they got into the business. They should answer their phone or e-mail when a customer contacts them ó or at least reply within a half hour or less. Anything else is unacceptable. With all of the technology available today, they can react quickly, no matter where they are or what they are doing. This is true especially when a prospective buyer or seller is making the first call to an agent. Several industry studies have found that 80 percent of people making an initial inquiry will sign up with the first person who calls them back, which means that the agent who snoozes, loses. Home buyers and home sellers expect to be treated like they are special and donít care what excuses an agent may have. Failure to be immediately available or follow up quickly translates to lost clients and lost sales.
Honesty and Trustworthiness
When people are ready to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars and make 30-year commitments on a loan, they should demand and expect integrity in the form of honesty and trustworthiness. Depending on their geographic location, real estate agents are bound by various laws that require honest business practices, but itís only good common sense that they conduct themselves and their business with high moral standards. Buyerís agents should be unafraid to discuss detriments to a property, even if means losing a possible sale. Sellerís agents should be unafraid to discuss detriments with their clients about why buyers may be balking at making an offer. Agents should be able to be trusted with sensitive personal information and hold it in confidence.
Good Communication Skills and Technical Savvy
Aside from honesty and trustworthiness, recent surveys tell us that good communication skills is the most important quality that consumers seek in a real estate agent. In todayís world, that means that most successful agents are well-plugged-in. Cell phones, personal digital assistants, mobile laptops and an ability to send and receive e-mails from almost anywhere are no longer options for successful agents. Some clients require more babysitting than others and their agents must contact them daily (or several times daily) to give them updates. Other clients are OK with periodic updates. A smart agent never hears complaints about being unreachable.
Experience and Education
Consumers are not experts in buying homes and selling homes. If they were, they wouldnít need real estate agents to guide them through the process. So diligent agents should do everything they can to enhance their experience and education, because that is what separates them from other agents and the general populace. Just like an auto mechanic needs to keep up on the latest models, features, equipment and practices as new cars and trucks are introduced each year, real estate agents should seek ongoing education. We donít necessarily mean formal college classes, but the real estate industry is constantly offering books, classes, seminars and workshops designed to enhance their knowledge. Consumers should endeavor to find an agent who knows all the latest information and can quote it freely.
Balances Professionalism with Friendliness and Assertiveness
Personal warmth can go a long way toward cementing a deal. Some people value the personal contact as much as they do experience and market knowledge. The real estate industry is a people business, after all. At the same time, customers expect their agents to be assertive (often because they lack the compunction to be assertive themselves). Balancing these qualities takes practice, but smart real estate agents know when to be easy-going and when to be tough. A good agent will need to be gruff at times in order to consummate a deal.
Knowledge of Local Neighborhoods
It should go without saying that a good real estate agent should know the housing market and the particular neighborhood a customer is interested in. Agents have plenty of resources to gather information. A good agent will work his or her contacts: talk to other agents, knock on doors and ask neighbors about a particular home, consult public records, tax rolls or talk to city officials. There are tons of market data available to agents that the public usually does not have access to. Of course, there is no substitute for the knowledge that experience provides.
Knowledge of the housing market also helps agents get a feel for pricing guidance. An agents' experience in the housing market, knowledge of the neighborhood and research of other similar properties that have sold recently help to give them an accurate price range, whether they represent a buyer or a seller. A good agent should have statistical information and knowledge of comparable sales readily available to justify his or her price recommendations and help the client make an informed decision.
Solid Negotiation Skills
No home buyer wants to pay too much and no home seller wants to get too little. A skilled agent should be able to negotiate a reasonable price that satisfies both parties, but especially his client. Again, there is no substitute for market knowledge and experience. A skilled real estate agent should be able to move the price to a desirable amount by raising objections or satisfying concerns. This is an area where you want your agent to be as assertive as they can be.
Wide Network of Industry Contacts
Buying a home often encompasses more than merely a legal and financial transaction. A good real estate agent will build up a network of other professional service providers over time who can jump in and assist in the sale. A good agent should have forged relationships with and have ready access to mortgage professionals, home inspectors, home warranty providers, homeowners insurance companies, real estate attorneys, title insurance companies, moving companies, home decorators and others who can help make the sale go smoothly and pleasantly.
Likability and Sense of Humor
A ready smile and an ability to laugh even when everything isnít going smoothly are desirable qualities in a real estate agent. An agent should be a calming influence and able to reduce stress when emotions run high.
As weblog author for Homes Advisory, the blog for New Homes Realty, Inc.,
Sandra Tuell covers topics that run the real estate gamut, written expressly for the home buyer.† On the blog, home buyers will find practical information and advice to carry them through the entire home buying process, from preparing their existing houses for sale, enlisting the services of a buyer's agent,
searching for new homes, making an offer and closing the transaction.