Sunday, May 20, 2007

How much do you like YOUR realtor?

Talking to friends (and experiencing it ourselves), people are seldomly 100% happy with their agent. There is just too much at stake and you are obsessing over details that are important to you. Your agent might have slightly different priorities than you. In a perfect world, your agent is picking up on the vibe and delivers what you want.

Most full-time agents are probably sufficiently experienced and well-versed in the legal details involved with buying a house. Still, personal chemistry is really important, but how do you find the agent that is perfect for you?

Invite several agents and have them present their plan on how they would market your house, why you should choose them, and what they think are comparable homes to yours. The main objective here is not what they say, but how you feel about them as a person. Do they come across as slick or slimy? Honest or personable? Genuinely concerned about your priorities? You will work with those folks very closely for a few months, so listen to your gut. Listen closely. Clarify things that don't make sense to you.

There is a vast difference between an agent that says "I can sell your home!" and one that says "What is important to you?" Some agents are very aggressive how they market your home, some take a more laid-back approach. Some do an open house for you every weekend, others see them as a waste of time.

Bottom-line: Make sure you are compatible. If you are having a really good conversation over the proposal and the numbers end up in just about the right ball-park, you're in the right place.

What about commissions?

Clearly understand how the seller/buyer agent commissions work. Look at both the overall commission, but also the split between buying and selling agent. Apparently, it's customary to pay 3% to each agent, but I haven't met an agent here that actually proposed the full 6% of the sales price. The highest commission I ran accross while putting my house on the market was 5% (2% for selling agent, 3% for buying agent). This can vary dramatically from location to location. In some areas a 2.5% split is common. Sometimes selling agents take a very small commission for themselves, and pay 2.5-3% to a buying agent, resulting in a lower overall commission for you.

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