How to Choose a Realtor

March 1, 2002 by  
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Choosing the right Realtor for you

by Wendy Wall

Unless you are an expert on property taxes, real estate values, real estate law, home loans and title searches, you are going to need to build a solid team for your home buying transaction. Having a good team to work with can make a huge difference in how well your closing goes.

With the home buying process, think of yourself as the general manager of a team and your Realtor as the team coach. But how do you find the right Realtor for you? What should you expect from this person? Who do you need on this team?

You will, and should, expect a lot from your Realtor. This person will help you build your team and guide you safely through the potentially turbulent waters of the home buying process. Your Realtor’s job is not just to help you pick out a home, there’s a whole lot more to the process than meets the eye. Also keep in mind one very important point – make sure you use a Realtor. There is a difference between a Realtor and a licensed real estate agent. The Realtor has taken classes and exams, has earned this designation and abides by a strict code of ethics, much like an architect or an attorney.

But how do you locate them? Well, I asked family members, friends, work associates, even my insurance company. And while you get a lot of good leads from your friends, it isn’t enough. You need to research the people, their brokerage firm and interview the Realtor. One of the best ways to research the firm and the Realtor is to log onto Every Realtor in town is listed here, and you can search by name or broker.

If you are relocating to a new city, call your favorite real estate broker to see whom they work with in other markets, or you can ask your human resources department where you work for leads.

Another option is to visit open houses in the different neighborhoods that you like and speak with Realtors. You may find a company or person that you click with immediately.

Managing your expectations: You may wonder what you need to ask in the interview. Well, the first thing you are looking for is a gut check. Are you comfortable with this person? Does this Realtor make you feel at ease? Ask questions like how long have they been in the real estate business. What was the average price of the homes that they helped their clients buy and sell? What are their primary neighborhoods? How do they communicate? The last two questions are very important. You probably do not want a Realtor who works in the downtown area if you are looking for a house in The Woodlands. The communication question is vital. Nothing can sour a relationship faster than a Realtor calling you every five minutes when you communicate primarily via e-mail.

Picking the players: Here’s another place where your Realtor will really come in handy. Before you can close on your house, you will need: an inspector, a mortgage company, an insurance carrier, a title company, a real estate attorney and an appraiser. All of these people, with your Realtor juggling the appointments and leading the charge, work together so that you meet your projected closing date. For example, with regards to your mortgage company, your Realtor can give you a few different companies when you begin your search and also can help you find out about bond money or learn about other local, state or federal incentive programs in your area.

There are a few rules of etiquette that you also will need to follow. Toni Nelson, Houston Association of Realtors – secretary/treasurer, says to -make sure that you are aboveboard and honest with your Realtor. Your Realtor cannot help you if they do not know all of your circumstances. If you have poor credit, child support or student loans, tell your Realtor. It’s their job to steer you in the right direction to help you overcome that obstacle.

Nelson adds that as a consumer, you need to make sure that you work with only one Realtor at a time. It’s not fair to work with one person and then let another one receive the commission. It also is important to explain to your Realtor where you are in the process. Are you waiting six months to buy a house and just want to learn the market right now? Let your Realtor know this, so that they can put you on a timeline that?s right for you.

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