Did you know that most people put in more effort selecting their hair dresser or auto mechanic than they do selecting a real estate agent who will represent them in the marketing or acquisition of what might be the biggest investment of their life?!!! So you need to think very carefully what the criteria should be to select a real estate agent.
Experience? Certainly that is important. BUT it depends on what the experience has been and for how long and DID THE AGENT LEARN ANYTHING!
Education? Also important depending on what kind of education. However some of the most successful agents I have known didn't even have a college degree.
Full time or part time? A no brainer for me. The full time agent is demonstrating a commitment to the profession and is putting in the time necessary to succeed.
I suggest that those three areas mentioned above do not even come close to what criteria are important regardless of whether you are a seller or a buyer. Here is the beef:
Full time or part time/ - This is possibly the most important step. Ask for references and not just the ones with two or three sentences and certainly not those that are signed "J. Smith, Ohio". When people are moved to write a referral letter in appreciation for a job well done they tend to write much more than two or three sentences and they sign their names willingly. You need to read the entire document NOT JUST THE FLOWERY EXCERPTS! (Want mine? Click on "Testimonials".)
Call the Agent - Yes, call the agent before you make that decision simply to see how easy it is to get in contact. In fact, call him/her two or three times to make sure you didn't get a fluke result the first time.
1.) IF YOU ARE A BUYER, you want to know that you can get in contact with your agent with minimum delay. Let's say you are driving through a neighborhood and see a new For Sale sign. You need to get in contact with your agent immediately while that listing is still fresh and before someone makes an offer. You cannot afford to leave messages on voice mail (the worst curse of the American business community!) and you don't want to wait while they search the agent's building looking for him/her. By the way, if you are a buyer, I recommend you pick a good agent and remain loyal. You can call the agent on the For Sale sign but depending on that agent's knowledge and experience you might be better off with your OWN representative - ME!
2.) IF YOU ARE A SELLER, you want to know how easy it is to get in contact with your agent not only for you but for the prospective buyers of your home. If those prospects have a hard time getting in contact with your agent they are going to look for another home. (There are agents in the Sacramento/Placer County area who seem to want to return calls when THEY want to return them, sometimes hours later and maybe even the next day. Cross those people off your list with a huge, black line! They are working for themselves, not for you. If you call ME even on Christmas day I'll most likely answer the phone. At the very least I'LL RETURN THAT CALL AS SOON AS I GET THAT MESSAGE, PERIOD!
3.) I INVITE YOU TO CALL ME. MY CELL PHONE IS ON MY BODY OR BESIDE MY BED 24 HOURS A DAY, 365 DAYS A YEAR!
THE SUPER AGENT - There are agents in my area who brag about having 30 - 50 listings and brag about closing 15 - 20 deals A MONTH!. I don't believe any human who is buried under a stack of listings and sales can give the proper attention to a buyer or seller. Successful real estate transactions require patience and deliberation to get the best price for the seller and the best buy for a buyer. It IS possible to do that many deals because a few ARE doing it but how many dollars have been left on the table in the rush to close all of those deals? This is not about agents or their profit line, it is about the client and the largest investment many clients will ever make. This is serious business. You need an agent that you will work with closely all through the selling or buying process. I am a hand-holder; you will hear from me, ME, regularly. And By The Way, ou will not go to escrow closing alone, I will be there with you. In fact there will be no escrow appointment WITHOUT me. (Ask my former clients.) To insure that I can give you this personal attention, I will rarely have more than 10 -12 active listings and more than 6 - 8 deals working at any one time. That is by choice. And that is the comfortable pace for my secretary/bookkeeper and my personal Transaction Coordinator to give buyers and sellers the service they deserve.
TECHNOLOGY - I am an e-PRO Certified Internet Expert. These days all Realtors should be as well. Ask the agents for their personal web site address. No web site? Cross him/her off your list, GO NO FURTHER WITH THAT AGENT. Did you know it is estimated that 90 - 95% of home buyers start their home search on the Internet?!!! Next year it will likely be 92- 96%. An agent who is not up to date with the latest technology also may not be up with the latest laws, requirements & markets. When you DO get the website, see how quickly it loads (buyers are impatient) and then how easy it is to navigate through it. Pay no attention to the wild colors and cute graphics, they have no bearing on getting the information. In fact those things can slow the loading substantially. DO pay attention to the individual listings and how they are portrayed. For Sellers in addition to placing every listing on the MLS we create an individual web page for each listing regardless of whether it is a $10,000 lot or a $2.5 million estate. We also can have up to 25 still photos for each site and we usually include panoramic or 360 degree Virtual Tours with six or more scenes. These can be inside the home or outside or a combination of both. An example is found if you open our site. Some homes appear under "Featured Listings", choose one of those then click on the photo to open the page for that home. Then you can scroll through the photos and information and if you click beside “Virtual Tour" you can view panoramic scenes inside and out. One of the huge advantages of having a personal as opposed to a company website is that I can direct a caller to the website virtual tours and we can "tour" the home together. By the way, we even load the virtual tours on our listings in the Sacramento MLS as well as supporting documents; Preliminary Title Report, Parcel Map, Inspection Reports, etc. AND we have recently Added at least TWO Aerial Views as well.
Both Buyers and Sellers gravitate to the Agent who is on the technological edge and has invested the time and money to acquire that technology, especially that personal website which the agent controls and maintains.
The Internet has revolutionized real estate marketing. Twenty percent of the 31 transactions we closed in 2003 came directly off our web site. That was down a bit in 2004 but back up in 2005 and up even more in 2006. It appears that we are in for a leveling-off if not a downturn. But we have been in three downturns and people usually keep a high interest in Real Estate. In the greater Sacramento and South Placer area we are currently (late 2013) experiencing rising prices and multiple offers on well-priced properties.
(This major portion of this page was originally created in 2006. I seemed to have called the market correctly, but anyone could see that we would not be able to sustain those massive price increases. With the current uptick that began 3-4 months ago we will see what 2014 brings.)
I have had my website since 1997 yet it never ceases to amaze me that with a well-designed, personal Web site prospective Buyers can "tour" our homes regardless of whether that prospect is in Sacramento, the Bay Area, Los Angeles or Tokyo!