There is certainly no shortage of real estate agents out there today, fighting for your business. They all come with their own unique skill sets and it’s up to you to decide who you want to work with and what is most important to you.
Whether you want to use an independent agent or a full-service brokerage like The Genau Group, the end goal should end up the same. There are, however, five clear skills that your agent needs to have in order to have a quick and painless buying process.
- Deep Industry Knowledge. It doesn’t matter if this is the agent’s first sale, or one hundredth, they better know the industry. Aside from passing their test to get their license, a good agent is constantly studying the market and knows exactly what the next move needs to be. Real estate is a career where the rules change constantly and no one sale is the same, so you need an agent who really knows their stuff.
- Local Area Knowledge. Just as important as industry knowledge is deep local area knowledge. You want someone who knows the safe parts of town, the quieter and more private parts of each neighborhood, and which streets go to which schools — especially important if there is a child who must go to a certain school. Even if you think you know the school situation there are so many redistrictingplans that happen that things may have changed recently. Having an agent who is on top of all of that is essential.
- An Extensive Professional Network. This does not just mean working with a large agency. Sure, it’s great to have a lot of colleagues on the same team as you, but if you want to find the best, you need to know the best. Having a large professional network can mean the difference between getting a house before it hits the market and ending up in a bidding war. Many times, agents will have agent-preview tours where a group of agents from the area can tour a house before it hits the market. If your agent knows exactly what you are looking for, they can sometimes get you in there before the house goes on the market for the public. An extensive professional network can also mean knowing a great mortgage broker who is able to help you secure a fantastic rate and ensure the closing happens on time. If an agent recommends a mortgage broker, it is because they trust that the sale will happen – and on time!
- Communication and Negotiation Skills. This should go without saying but your real estate agent better be able to communicate. This means answering all of your questions promptly. If you have an agent who takes days to get back to you, this is a red flag. They won’t be able to get you under contract quickly, which is especially important in a market where houses are selling the day they are listed. Additionally, they should be able to negotiate on your behalf, steering you in a fair and reasonable offer. While you ultimately have the power of what to request, they should be able to negotiate your wish list. They should also be able to steer you in the direction of what is really important and what you should look past. That hideous lime green wall? Not a deal breaker. No appliances included but you need them. Time to negotiate.
- Honesty and Integrity. Above all else, this is by far the most important attribute a good real estate agent should have. Home ownership is a major financial decision. Many times, it is quite literally pouring your life savings into something. Having a real estate agent you can trust is leading you in the right direction is more important than anything else. You can tell very quickly which agents want to walk you through the process, making sure you are getting everything you want and making a good decision and which agents simply want your business. There should be no amount of questions that annoy the agent and no amount of time spent together looking for the right property that is too long. Of course, this is meant toward serious buyers and not someone who just wants to look at houses for fun. If you are a serious buyer, you need a trustworthy agent working on your behalf.
Although every good agent should have all of these five non-negotiable characteristics, the fact remains that many don’t. They may have one, two, or maybe even three components, but if they don’t have all of them together, it may be time to look for someone else. With the biggest purchase of your life, you want to be sure you are dealing only with the best.