Homebuyer Blues: How To Avoid A Terrible Realtor Experience

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Credit: bigworldofbeauty.blogspot.com

About a month ago, my wife called me up while she was at work asking me for some business cards and contact info.  A coworker of hers, Jenny* (*all names are changed), wanted to pass my information along to another person in the office because she heard them mention that they would be looking into buying a home soon.  (In the Interest of full disclosure, Jenny and her husband Jim* have been friends of ours for a few years now.)  Geesh–it’s like the Six Degrees Of Kevin Bacon over here!  “So, how’d you meet Jeff?”  “Well, it’s kind of a weird thing…”  Heh.

Flattered as I was, Jenny later told me when we next met that she and Jim had a really terrible experience with their Realtor, and since she couldn’t refer theirs, she wanted to refer me instead.  Always wanting to learn and grow in this business, I asked her why their realtor hadn’t been up to snuff.  These are hard-won lessons sometimes, and I wanted to make sure I was providing the level of service that was opposite of what their guy had been.

“Oh man,” she said, “he didn’t listen to us at all.  It was like we were taking up his time when we had questions, or any time we weren’t out looking at homes.”

Jim chimed in, “He kept taking us to places that were either out of our price range by sixty or eighty grand or dumps that were way under, the places we did like were already under contract when we got there, and it seemed like he could care less about us.  I almost punched him once, I was so angry at him.”

Woah.  At first I thought, “This guy really makes us look bad,” but that was quickly followed by, “This guy makes my job really easy!”  

As we’ve covered before, it’s generally in your best interest to hire a Realtor, but there is an easy way to avoid service like this.  Choosing a Realtor like me is not as roll-of-the-dice as you would expect, where you have to just hope you’ll “get a good one”…it really comes down to three simple things:

First, when you are getting into the process, I want you to treat your Realtor as someone whom you are hiring.  The truth is, you are hiring them as an independent contractor for their services.  Find someone who wants to earn your business, not the commission.  Interview at least three — preferably five — before making your final decision.

ImageSecond, make sure the Realtor you pick is either independently experienced, or backed by a mentor or support team if new.  That’s what I did.  I want to give every one of my clients the most stress-free experience possible.  Being new in the industry, I knew that couldn’t happen until I had a couple of transactions under my belt, but I wasn’t willing to let my first few clients be guinea pigs.  I hired a mentor to help me handle the things I didn’t know or wasn’t prepared for, and it has served me all the better for it.

And finally, pick someone you like.  Pick someone you get good vibes from during the consultation.  Everybody’s personality is different.  It is entirely possible, for example, that two Realtors are equally likable and equally qualified, but their personalities and approaches are different.  One agent might be trying to give you the speediest transaction for the least (or most, if he’s a listing agent) amount of money, and has a plan to do so.  The other agent might spend more time learning the story of how your oldest dog (three dogs ago) lost its hind legs, and that’s how you came to have Fluffy III.  If your personality lends itself to wanting a more intimate Realtor/client relationship, choose number two.  If you are someone who is more focused on wanting results, number one is your best bet.

As a short fourth point, I’ll mention that you can always choose to fire your Realtor if he or she is not performing.  I’ll cover the ins and outs of this in a later post, but just keep in mind that no part of your relationship with this person is forever, unless you want it to be.

I hope this helps ease your mind.  Have a great weekend, and Happy Home Hunting! 

 

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