Real Estate Matters by John Baer, SRES
Not All Real Estate Agents Are Professionally Equal
Like most professionals, not all real estate agents are professionally equal. It is your responsibility to weed out the dabblers and to find the best. If that means choosing NOT to work with Aunt Betty or a next door neighbor who tries to sell houses simply to occupy the time, so be it.
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 whom you will cherish for years to come. Yes, I have heard it all….. "Realtors are out to make a quick buck. Realtors are similar to a used car salesman. We care about the sale not the client.” However, I am here to tell you not all agents are professionally equal. A truly professional agent will:
Focus on your wants and needs, work with you to find the right property, not just any property to make the sale.
Work with you to ensure you are making a good real estate decision, not simply a decision that brings money to his/her office.
Maintain high and impeccable honesty and integrity. A professional agent does not simply tell clients what they want to hear; a professional agent gives clients the honest truth and problem solves for them proactively.
Consider you as part of his/her family. A professional agent wants each client to be happy and will work tirelessly to ensure a client’s satisfaction….if for no other reason than to have a client refer him/ her to someone else. As a real estate agent, I have observed that not all agents devote the time or provide the feedback his/her client deserves. Not all agents demonstrate creativity in marketing a home. Not all agents are committed to the ethical standards we are bound to uphold. This sounds like a warning that real estate agents may not be trustworthy, but that could not be farther from the truth. A real estate agent can be a buyer’s or a seller’s best friend. But you need to see through the outer wrapping to view the type of person with whom you are dealing. An agent should, when first meeting prospective clients, sit down with them and have an information gathering conversation. A professional agent should draw out from the client what the client wants and needs. Equally important, a professional agent needs to listen carefully to the client’s answers. A professional real estate agent has a responsibility to protect his/her clients when helping them buy or sell real estate. We have a fiduciary duty to protect the client’s financial interests and confidential information. How can we protect those interests unless we know what our client’s interests are? We are legally bound to uphold the duties of a fiduciary. The consumer is legally bound, through the judicial system, to abide by certain state and federal laws when buying or selling real estate. The consumer may not know about these laws unless the real estate agent or an attorney explains them. Having such a conversation eliminates assumptions from both parties that could result in damages to either or both parties. Potential buyers or sellers would be foolish to hire someone off the street without knowing anything about them; wouldn’t they? However, it is done every day. A real estate agent contacts a home owner who is interested in selling a home and in a very short time, the agent leaves with a listing contract in hand, a sign in the yard, and a seller committed to pay for services that may disappoint the seller. This might have happened because the seller knew of the real estate agency, but in reality what did the homeowner know or learn about the agent and the agent’s ability and trustworthiness? Just as important, what did the agent know or learn about the owner that could possibly help promote the sale of the home? Would you let just any physician conduct open heart surgery on you? Hopefully not. Would you let just any attorney represent you if you were accused of a crime you did not commit? Hopefully not. And the same is true of selecting a real estate agent. Interview at least three in order to learn how each plans to represent you and how comfortable you would feel working with and represented by each. Remember, buying or selling a home may be the biggest financial investment you will ever make in your life. John E. Baer, DPA, SRES, is a NYS licensed real estate salesperson associated with Prudential Centennial Realty of Scarsdale and Larchmont. He can be reached for questions at 914/600-6086 or at 914/844-2059. His website is www.WestchesterHomes.info.