How do I know which agent I can truly trust to help me and my family?
For most of us, a home purchase is the largest financial transaction we’ll ever be involved in. It’s the same when we go to sell, and doubly so if we’re also buying a new home.
Placing your financial fate in the hands of another person is nerve-wracking, and rightly so, especially if that person is a stranger.
So how do we know who to trust with that much responsibility?
When you’re buying a home, your agent should work on your behalf to get you the right home, at the right price, in a timely manner.
If you don’t feel that your agent is putting you first, and providing you with what you need, let them know.
If that doesn’t work, fire them!
When you work with any agent, you should
expect them to:
- Help you refine your search for the perfect home.
- Take you to view homes in-person.
- Always put you, your needs and your schedule ahead of their own.
- Negotiate hard on your behalf.
Let’s start with the first service an agent should be providing you.
Help you refine your search for the perfect home.
How should they go about doing that?
They need to first find out why you’re looking to move.
What has changed in your life that has got you looking for a new home?
If the agent asks you that question, or something like it, and if you can answer the question, then your agent can understand your motivation to move, and your motivation to buy rather than rent.
Your answer, and the ensuing conversation, might even help you better understand your needs, what you must have in a home and what you can live without, or don’t want at all.
If you know what you want and why, and your agent knows what you want and why, then together you should be able to narrow down where you're looking (location is very important), and what you're looking for.
Let’s now address the second service an agent should be providing you.
Take you to view homes in-person.
This one sounds like a no-brainer, right?
But you’d be surprised by the number of agents who are too busy to see a home with you.
They either suggest you see it at the next open house or try and schedule it around their availability rather than yours.
Guess what? They’re doing you a disservice by doing that.
You need to get into a home right now! And preferably before the weekend.
Lots of people see homes at the weekend, so guess when all the offers come in: between Saturday night and Monday morning.
You need to get into a home before the weekend, preferably as soon as it’s on the market, because if you can get your offer in before most people who are interested have seen the home, you can hopefully avoid a multiple offer situation, and get the home for a better price.
A lot of homes are listed on a Thursday or Friday, ready for the weekend, but some list a little earlier, like Wednesday.
So you shouldn’t wait until the weekend, and your agent shouldn’t make you, just because he’s busy.
So am I too busy to go see a home with you?
Sure, sometimes. But I have a team of associate agents working with me, who'll show you a home when I can't.
With me, you'll never miss seeing a home because of my schedule.
Now let’s cover the third service an agent should be providing you.
Always put you, your needs and your schedule ahead of their own.
We’ve talked a little about going to see homes, which is part of what I mean by a schedule, but you also have a timeline in which you want to be moved, and that’s a part of your schedule as well.
Right now, you’re financially better off buying as soon as possible, as mortgage interest rates are projected to rise and so are home values, but there are other factors that affect your timeline.
You might have a good reason to wait until next spring, for example you don’t want to pull your kids out of school during the school year, and are just looking around occasionally right now.
Most agents are paid on a 100% commission basis and they don't get paid to go see homes with you, only when you buy, so they would prefer you to move right now.
So do you think they want to go see fifty homes with you?
Or go see any homes with you right now even though you’re not planning on moving for months?
And how about putting your needs first?
Have you ever been in a home with an agent and had them push you to make an offer, even though you’ve given them very little indication that you like the home enough?
You might even have made it clear that you don’t like the home.
We're not meant to be salespeople.
We're not meant to sell you a home, we're meant to help you find one you want, then to help you get that home for the price you're happy with and with a minimum of stress.
Once your home purchase is complete, you get to review me and I get paid based on how happy you are at the end. That gives me a great incentive to put you first all the way through to the end.
And finally, the fourth service an agent should be providing you.
Negotiate hard on your behalf.
All agents should be trained negotiators. That’s a given. But they should also be willing to use those skills to the full.
What do I mean by that?
I mean that they should forget their commission, and ask for what you want even if it puts the home purchase, or sale, and hence their commission at risk.
Now I’m not saying they shouldn’t warn you if you’re being very aggressive on price, or if another request or contingency is unreasonable or risky, they would be doing you a disservice if they didn’t, but they should stand with you once you’ve understood and accepted the risk.
But that pesky commission can get in the way sometimes. The best of us can feel tempted to push a little when our livelihood is on the line.
But once again, the way I get paid means that I have a financial incentive to put you first, and that means negotiating as hard as I can for what you want.
One more thing, there’s a fifth service an agent should be providing you.
Useful information on the state of the market.
Housing Markets are local but most housing news has a national focus.
Your agent should be able to provide you with news about the housing market in your state and in the towns and cities in which you’re searching for a home.
If you want to know what the housing market in Illinois looks like right now, take a look here.
Buying and selling a home is a large financial transaction, for most people it's the largest.
You need to work with an agent who puts you first and who provides the services necessary to make the transaction as stress free and risk free as possible.