How to Find a Good Real Estate Agent — part 4

Consumer Responsibilities

Besides the obvious screening and interviewing of prospective agents, what responsibilities rest with the consumer?

Credit Concerns

If the consumer is a buyer, then they need to make sure that their credit is in order and that means carefully reviewing their credit reports for any inaccuracies that may surprise them when the time comes to pre-qualify for a mortgage. According to the Federal Trade Commission, one in five people have at least one error on their credit reports. A lower credit score means that when it is time to borrow money it will be more expensive and costly. A great idea for consumers is to get a free yearly copy of their credit reports which are made available by law from each of the three major credit reporting companies and search for errors and dispute the errors at no cost before they need to borrow money.

Clearly Defined Wants — Buyers

Agents run into this problem all the time – buyers not knowing exactly what they are looking for in a new home and then frequently changing their minds.  It is important to know what matters most in a new home and to be realistic about what is NEED versus a WANT.  For example, with 2 kids 3 bedrooms would be a minimum need although it would be nice to have a fourth bedroom for when family comes into town for a visit each year, however if a fourth bedroom puts your desired property out of your financial reach then doing some research and making those hard decisions is important to do before jumping into the market.  Needs are based in reality and wants are based on dreams – agents love to work with buyers who know exactly what they can afford and what they need in a new home.

Property Condition — Sellers

For sellers, it is critical to make sure that their property is ready to be shown to prospective buyers before involving an agent. Sellers have a significant responsibility to ensure their listing is ‘show ready’ and priced appropriately for its condition.  Some repairs may be necessary and could increase the selling price significantly over the actual cost of the repairs and so this should be considered before ever listing a property for sale.  Additionally, there are some repairs that must be completed before a buyer may be able to secure a loan to purchase the property, for example having wet rot in a bathroom.  An agent can and should be prepared to offer solutions for MUST DO repairs when a seller may not be aware of how important these are.  One final word to sellers is that they should keep their expectations in line with the current market – a poorly kept property won’t command top of the market prices and sellers shouldn’t expect the buyer or the agent to pay for required repairs.

Final Note

There are many excellent agents in the marketplace and it may take a bit of searching and interviewing to find one that feels like the right fit but all of the effort that goes into this screening is sure to pay untold dividends for consumers. A final word to agents who work at staying current on market conditions and continuing education; remember that cream always rises to the top!

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