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Choosing a Realtor

There is a difference between a sales agent and a Realtor. Realtors have additional training and must abide by a code-of-ethics. It also costs a sales agent additional money to be certified as a Realtor, which tells you he/she has a higher level of commitment to the profe

Find a Realtor that you feel comfortable with and trust. If you have a friend or relative who is a Realtor, use that person only if you like them, trust them and value his/her professional opinion and work ethic. A friend or relative acting as your agent should provide the same professional service to you as he or she would to any other customer. As the customer, you should demand professional service.

Secondly, keep your expectations high, but dont' ask them to give up part of the commission to you. He or she may offer a rebate or buy you a nice house warming gift, but this is a bonus. Realtors work hard to make a living and must split the commission with a co-broker, their broker and the government. On top of this, most Realtors incur fairly significant advertising and marketing expenses, as well as high fuel costs. So, that big commission, after the split, is a small fraction paid to the Realtor you worked with to buy or sell your home.

What should you do if you don't personally know a Realtor? Start by asking your local friends, relatives and co-workers if they have worked with anyone they liked and trusted. Try to get three candidates and then interview them. Buying or selling a home is most likely the largest and most stressful financial transaction you will ever do.

When interviewing the candidates spend some time determining whether this is a person you could spend hours with discussing your purchase or sale and, possibly, spending long periods together in a car.

Next, determine how long the candidates have been in the business and how many transactions they completed in the past 12-months. A handful is not enough. Look for a minimum of twelve transactions, but compare the three candidates on this issue. Of course, the market plays a role in this statistic. In a sellers market, he/she might have a lot of transactions. In a buyers market, the number could be significantly reduced.

If you are a buyer, determine how familiar the agent is with the area you are interested in. Ask the prospect to provide comparable properties for you, so you have the reality of what homes may cost in the area you are looking. Also, before you make any offer, the agent should provide comparables of homes sold in the past 6-months so that you know the range of what you should offer.

Ask each candidate how they will market your home if you are a seller. Today, Realtors must have a good handle on technology. What websites will be used to market your property? Will he/she do a virtual tour and, if so, what type of exposure will the tour get? How large is his or her database of buyers? How will the home be marketed to buyers?

Finally, find out how often each candidate will communicate with you regarding the sale of your home. In the market today, you may only have a handful of showings a month, so it is not really necessary for the Realtor to report to you too often. Your Realtor should talk with you every few weeks to let you know what actions he/she has taken to give your property maximum exposure in order to facilitate showings. If you hold the Realtor to this standard, he/she will constantly be thinking about your property and what can be done to market it more effectively. Don't be afraid to call the agent and ask for a marketing update.

To summarize, you must like and trust your Realtor�. Find out the agent�s level of experience. Ask about marketing. Expect professionalism and communication. Finally, your Realtor� should be able to make this a fun and fairly stress-free experience for you. Good luck!

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