(Part 3 in a Series.)
In my last article, we discussed why it’s crucial to meet with a competent, qualified, and Certified Mortgage Planning Specialist before you start your home search. A Certified Mortgage Planning Specialist will help you define your housing needs, monthly housing budget, and ensure your mortgage complements your financial goals. Then, once you’re prequalified, your Certified Mortgage Planning Specialist will help you match the right mortgage to the right property.
The next superstar to add to your team is a real estate salesperson. A competent, professional, and licensed real estate salesperson will help you identify the right property and make it your home.
Like most professions, not all real estate agents are created equal. It’s your responsibility to weed out the dabblers to find the best. And if that means choosing NOT to work with Aunt Bettie, who tries to sell houses simply to occupy her time, so be it.
As a prerequisite to selling real estate in New York, a person must be licensed either as an agent/salesperson or as a broker. Before a license is issued, minimum standards for education, examinations, and experience, must be met. After receiving a real estate license, many agents go on to join their local board or association of Realtors, as well as the National Association of Realtors.
When choosing a real estate agent:
- Ask for references. The best agents will be more than happy to provide you the names and numbers of some past clients who would provide glowing testimonials.
- How long have they been selling real estate? Is real estate their full-time career? Every real estate agent must start somewhere. And being a new agent is NOT necessarily a strike against them! Often new agents are more enthusiastic and willing to work harder. What you want to avoid are sales agents that are using you to learn the ropes and are “faking” their knowledge and experience. In addition, you don’t want an agent who’s simply selling real estate as a hobby.
- Is the agent representing you – or the seller? This discussion is supposed to occur early on, at “first serious contact” with you. Most real estate agents are paid a commission by the seller from the proceeds of the sale. While a seller’s agent’s fiduciary responsibility is to the seller, this does not necessarily mean a seller’s agent would not work well with you! I’m proud to work with a number of selling agents that work wonderfully with home buyers and have the testimonials to back it up. Or you might consider hiring an exclusive buyer’s agent, one who owes the full range of duties, including confidentiality and obedience, to the buyer.
- Is the agent intimately familiar with the neighborhood you’re interested in? Although it’s not necessary that the sales agent live in the neighborhood, he or she should have an in-depth knowledge of the local market, including values, recent sales to support those values, home styles, schools, demographics, building and zoning laws, etc.
- Will the agent help you choose the right home? Will he or she provide objective information about each property? Will the agent show you homes that meet your requirements and provide you with a list of the properties he or she is showing you? Or will they show you only their listings and properties above your price range? The right agent will show you properties that best suite your needs. The wrong agent will show you houses that earn them the highest commission.
- How knowledgeable and involved are they in the closing process? Are they skilled negotiators? Can they communicate effectively with all of the interested parties? Are they familiar enough with real estate law that they can coordinate with the attorneys on the transaction? What about the mortgage process? Or do they believe their job ends once the sale’s agreement (the binder) is signed?
Choosing the wrong real estate agent can have consequences you won’t realize until much later. This could include delayed closings, missing certificates of occupancy, paying too much for a house that’s not appropriate for you, or even buying a home with issues you weren’t aware of.
On the other hand, the right real estate agent can match you with the right house at the right price. You’ll enjoy a smooth transaction, and often gain a new friend, neighbor, and trusted advisor that you’ll cherish for years to come.
Would you like to meet one of these rock star agents? I’d be happy to introduce you to a fantastic agent who’s intimately familiar with the neighborhood you’re interested in.
Warren Goldberg is President of Mortgage Wealth Advisors, a Certified Mortgage Planning Specialist®, and a published author. His interviews include Blog-Talk Radio, Newsday, and the Long Island Herald. Since 1992, he’s been sharing his financial knowledge and wealth-building strategies, including how to properly use your mortgage as a financial tool. His clients regularly express their trust and appreciation by recommending friends and family call when in need of mortgage, real estate, and financial guidance.