Not all realtors are built the same

Tips for Finding the Right Realtor for You

Choosing a realtor is a lot like dating. There’s undoubtedly the right option out there for you but you may have to make your way through a lot of frogs to find your prince/princess. There is “someone for everyone” but getting there can be quite a journey. 

In this blog, I aim to help future home buyers and sellers leapfrog (pun intended!) over the sometimes messy and time-consuming process of selecting a realtor. As a realtor myself, I try to be the realtor I would want when considering the right realtor representation in one of the most important transactions in anyone’s life. 

Here are some of the key things that I think distinguish a great realtor from the rest of the pack and that you should look for in a realtor:

Responsiveness – If you reach out to a realtor with an inquiry of any kind and haven’t heard back from them within an hour or two, that’s not the realtor for you. This is a frenetic business, one where responsiveness can make the difference between you getting the deal you want or losing. You can’t let a realtor’s responsiveness failure get in your way. 

Follow-up – Dropping the ball in the Northern Virginia market is not an option. Neither is forgetfulness. A great realtor is one who listens to everything you as a client have said or asks and follows up on every single item. Call it crossing the Ts and dotting the Is (or whatever expression fits best) but your requests should be addressed timely and thoroughly.

Detail orientation – Let’s be honest here.  Realtors don’t typically have to draft contract documents from scratch.  They’re using boiler plate contracts issued by and through their area realtor associations (and sometimes their brokerage).  A realtor’s job is to fill in the contract blanks with correct information – e.g., price, legal description of the property, items that convey with the sale, party contact info, etc.  It’s not rocket science. Yet when mistakes get made in these legally binding documents, the consequences to a client can be significant.  You want to work with a realtor that pays attention to these important details so they don’t backfire on you!

Contract & process comprehension – I’m going to be a little self-serving here.  Most realtors do not have a legal background (like I do).  Yet they are working with legally binding documents that guide the buying/selling process and dictate the terms for the parties to follow. There is nuance and complexity to the language in the various contract documents that underpin a transaction.  You want to work with a realtor who truly understands what the contract terms mean.  What the implications are of not abiding by a contract term.  What the process for buying or selling includes, as rooted in the contract documents between the transaction parties.  Don’t let a realtor bluff you on this!

Neighborhood knowledge – No realtor can know every neighborhood like the back of their hand.  But most realtors do have a particular area of focus such that they’ll be intimately familiar with a neighborhood’s schools, parks, amenities and dynamic.  A really good neighborhood expert will even be able to speak to the unique characteristics of specific blocks and streets.  While I don’t think you need to work with a particular neighborhood expert to succeed, it can help.  And if the realtor isn’t deeply knowledgeable about an area you’re targeting – but otherwise checks your boxes – then encourage him/her to dig deep and fast to get familiar with a particular neighborhood.

Client first – Tough as it is for realtors to revolve their own lives around a client’s schedule, that is just the deal.  A good realtor will make themselves available according to a client’s needs – even if that means working early mornings/late nights and weekends.  They have to put a client first not only when it comes to schedule but also when it comes to workflow.  Realtors generally work with more than one client at a time but should make you feel like you’re they’re only client. 

Perseverance – In a competitive market, like here in Northern Virginia, there is no room for disappointment and defeat.  Your realtor needs to be dogged on your behalf no matter what the obstacle.  That means helping you navigate through multiple offer situations – potentially multiple times – until you get to the finish line.  It can be discouraging for a realtor to invest so much time without compensation – the good ones realize that the effort is not about the money.  It’s about helping a client find the best possible home at the desired price.

Choosing the right realtor for your real estate transaction is critical to ensuring your buying/selling objectives are met.  In writing this, I hope these tips prove useful to you in your selection process.  That they help you to be able to separate the wheat from the chaff.  Happy realtor shopping!

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