Hiring a Realtor…. questions to ask

by | Mar 28, 2018 | Real Estate | 0 comments

Upcoming Free (& non-promotional) Home Buyer Classes:

Saturday, April 14th, from 9am-12pm (ish)
Marshall Community Center, conference room
1009 E. McLoughlin Blvd, Vancouver WA (kitty corner from Clark College)

Tuesday, April 17th, from 5pm-8pm (ish)
Marshall Community Center, conference room
1009 E. McLoughlin Blvd, Vancouver WA (kitty corner from Clark College)

Saturday, April 28th, from 9am-12pm (ish)
Vancouver YMCA
11324 NE 51st Circle, Vancouver WA (corner of SR 503 & 112th Ave/Gher Road)

If these class dates and/or times don’t work for you, please let us know.  We understand that you have lives, and families, and work.  We will work something out that works better with your schedule.  Just let us know….                                                                                  

….we also have home seller classes available too…link on left on website                  
Remember…with reservation…we will throw in lunch, or dinner

Happy Spring!  ….or 3rd winter.. whatever…

Anyone else feel like Mother Nature missed the memo this year?  Winter hit late, and now that it is spring.. she just doesn’t seem ready to let go.  I do know that feeling myself though… it’s hard to stop when you are on a roll.  🙂  

So, before we jump into this weeks topic, I want to remind you to send me your best pictures for the 2019 calendar that we will be giving away at this winters Client Appreciation…..and talking about Client Appreciation…  We have two coming up.  Avengers: the infinity war will be on Saturday, May 5 from 3pm-6pm.  Yes, we are aware that Disney moved the premier up to the 28th, but they’re Disney so they can do whatever they want.  We, however, are NOT Disney, and we will be at the Clark County PUD Home & Garden show the last weekend of April.  Stop by and see us if you are going.  🙂  Our next Client Appreciation after that will be for The Incredibles: 2 on Saturday, June 16, from 3pm-6pm.  We do have limited tickets to both, and of course, limited 21+ tickets.  Please email either Chris Berg (cberg@pcmloan.com), or myself to reserve tickets….yes, even if you have already stated you want to go.  Due to limited tickets we are going to limit tickets to 6 right now.  If we have open tickets towards to the end (and we usually do), we will open tickets up to those who want more.  Thank you for your continued business, and for your referrals!  We appreciate you

So let’s talk a bit about agency and hiring an agent this week…  
So why is Agency so important?  Because Agency is what we DO…and you need to be aware of what to expect from your agent.  The biggest thing I can tell you is that a Realtor is NOT A SALESPERSON!  The only thing a Realtor is selling is themselves…their education, their experience, their talents, their level of customer/client service, their personality, their ethics….who ‘they’ are, and how that Realtor can help you with your home adventure.  Really, all Realtors essentially do the same thing, but it’s HOW we do it, who we are as a person, and what each individual agent brings to the table, that makes a difference. Once your Realtor is hired to help you buy (or sell) a home, they’re not (or shouldn’t be) selling anything.  Once hired, that Realtor works FOR you…that Realtor should be using all those things that made you want to hire her (or him) to your benefit as they represent you.  Agency is how we do it, and how we represent you.  Agency is the relationship between you, and your realtor.  

Again…so WHY is Agency so important for you to know and understand?  Agency is the relationship between you, and your realtor, right?  So, when you hire a Realtor to help you buy (or sell) a home, you are trusting that Realtor to put your interests first, to represent YOUR best interests, to be truthful (even if that stings a bit), to be honest, to be act as your representative.  You’re trusting this Realtors experience, knowledge, care, education, etc…and trusting that this Realtor is going to provide you with client customer service for this, the biggest transaction, of your life.  This all sounds correct, right?  That Realtor should not be trying to ‘sell’ you on anything.  This is YOUR home adventure, and our main job is to help you get keys on ‘the’ home you want.

Please….LIKE your agent!  Too many times I talk to people who do NOT like their Realtor, and folks… I’m just saying that that’s not right!  The average home sale in Clark County is over $330,000…that is a over a QUARTER OF A MILLION DOLLARS…why are you going to trust that kind of money to someone you don’t even like?  

The National Association of Realtors has a Code of Ethics that every agent is legally bound by…or at least…is supposed to be…  The first article is the duty to clients, and it states, “When representing a buyer, seller, landlord, tenant, or other client as an agent, REALTORS® pledge themselves to protect and promote the interests of their client. This obligation to the client is primary, but it does not relieve REALTORS® of their obligation to treat all parties honestly. When serving a buyer, seller, landlord, tenant or other party in a non-agency capacity, REALTORS® remain obligated to treat all parties honestly.”  

BAM!!!  If I had a mic, I’d drop it.  😀  
  
  Some things I want you to know…whether you are buying or selling a home, everyone is legally entitled to their own realtor representation…and yes, this has come up recently.  Sadly, a realtor recently told someone that they could not have their own representation…that this particular realtor refused to work with another agent(s) on that home that the buyer wanted to buy.  Legally, EVERYONE is entitled to representation of their own when buying or selling their home.  If something sounds, ‘off’ to you…ask.  
  What many people fail to realize is that, as a home buyer, or a home seller, YOU are the boss.  You are hiring someone to help you with one of the most important stages of your life.  YOU ARE HIRING SOMEONE…. this is an interview.  What questions should you be asking?

HOW long have you been in the real estate business?  
   Do they have experience, a network of people that they can contact to help?  Nothing wrong with a newbie, but do you know everything about a job when you first start out?  How do you learn?  In real estate, we are always learning, but do you want to be the transaction that an agent ‘cuts their teeth’ on?

HOW long have you been licensed?  
   This ties into the last question.  Sometimes an agent worked with another licensed agent as an unlicensed assistant so they could have a couple of years in the real estate industry, but very few (or none) as a licensed agent.  Again, nothing wrong with a ‘newbie’ agent….often times they have more time to help you vs an experienced agent who has other clients we are working with as well.  An experienced agent usually has a pipeline of clients and closings so we’re not as concerned with ‘pushing’ a sale because we don’t need to.  Newer agents usually don’t have that pipeline so may be more concerned about getting you into (or out of) a home as fast as possible.  

WHAT did you do prior to real estate?  What was your other careers?
   Why is this important?  Buying, or selling a home is one of the largest financial decisions you will ever make.  You are hiring someone to assist you with this decision.  What qualifications does this person have to help you do so?  Did they work in marketing?  Office management?  Accounting?  Did they wait tables?  Work in a factory?  Were they a car salesperson?  What skills and life experience does that agent bring to the table, and how can it help you?   

DO you have any college education or degrees?
 Again, see above…this is your largest financial decision….how is this person qualified to help you with that?  What background do they have that will assist you?

WILL I be working with you, or an assistant?
   Sometimes you hire an agent to help you, but then you never see them….you’ve been handed off to an assistant who may not have the qualifications you had asked about to that other agent that you ‘thought’ you had hired.  Sometimes you hired the assistant because they had the qualities and the qualifications you were looking for, and you are surprised that they are actually part of a team.

WHAT days/times are you available?
   This is pretty important as you need to know if the times you are available are going to work with the times that your agent is available.  Are they there for you when you need them?  Or can you never get a hold of him/her?

HOW many homes to you sell (on average) per year?
   Why does this matter?  Most people think that a ‘full time’ agent sells about 12 homes a year…but really that is a part time agent.  It’s a ‘gross’ check vs ‘net’ check kind of thing…and in real estate there are a lot of expenses, dues, fees, and taxes.  Being self employed has some great things, but they come with expensive costs and overheads.  For example, in my family my husband works for health insurance only… I am the main source of income, and to ‘break even’ I have to sell, at least, 2 homes a month.  Of course, a lot of that depends on the types/values of the homes an agent sells.  I work mainly with first time and move up buyers/sellers vs some agent friends of mine who sell luxury homes.  They don’t help as many people as I do, but make more.  You know… like that supervisor at work who makes more than you, but does less work?  LOL

WHAT is the average price of the homes you help people buy/sell?
   This does tie into the last question….  If someone works mainly with luxury homes, do they understand the market for the type of home you are buying or selling?  Not too long ago, I had a call from someone who wanted to sell their 4000 sq ft home in a very swanky Portland neighborhood.  I actually referred them to a different agent for 2 reasons…one reason being that I don’t work in the Portland area and I believe that agents should stick to the areas they know.  Not all markets are the same, and I am not helping someone if I am taking on an unfamiliar market, am I?  …and that’s also kind of the second reason…they have a luxury home and that is a different selling, and buying market.  Honestly, they are better serviced by the agent I referred them to as that agent specializes in Portland, and in that high price range.  I’m always too busy wondering how long it would take to clean it!!  

DO you have another job besides real estate?  
   This kind of ties into the question about how many homes does an agent sell per year as many part time agents have other jobs to supplement their income.  This also ties into when that agent is going to be available to help you.  Real estate isn’t just about showing homes…there is SO much more to it.  Phone calls, marketing, searching for homes on the internet, calling about that home, calling other agents, other vendors, paperwork, more paperwork, talking, phone calls, texting, emails, title companies, inspections, appraisals, lenders, etc… it’s an 80 hour a week job some weeks.  There are no ‘real’ vacations as you are always ‘on duty’.  

HOW do you feel about Dual Agency?
  This is an interesting question as you don’t know what I’m talking about…so let me explain as quickly as I can…  When a seller hires an agent that ‘sellers agent’ should be working for THAT seller.  They will be marketing the home, and ‘selling’ that home to buyers, and buyer agents…in a nut shell the sellers agent is selling that home for the seller for the highest possible price and lowest amount of money out of the sellers pocket book (ie buyer closing costs and repairs).  A buyer hires an agent to help them find that ‘perfect’ home.  To work with them with the lender, to negotiate the offer trying to get that home for them in a multiple offer situation (and maybe for less?), to negotiate closing costs, repairs, to be with the buyers for the home inspection, to help understand appraisal, paperwork, the process…and to support the buyers from contract to keys…and beyond.  Real estate is a relationship business, and we LIVE for referrals.  You should always feel comfortable talking to, and contacting your agent ANYTIME with ANY questions…before, during, and even years after you get keys.  
As you can see, the sellers agent and the buyers agent kind of have two different agendas.  So, if you call the sellers agent to help you buy the home, and that agent works for the sellers, and the buyers on the SAME home…that is a dual agent.  Who is that agent really representing?  Dual agency isn’t illegal in the state of Washington, it’s just my opinion that each side should always have their own representation.  
Builders agents are dual agents which is why you should always bring your buyers agent with you when looking at have a new home built.  Teams are dual agents.  
Who is representing YOU?  Who is working for, and looking out for you?

For sellers:  ask about marketing, and ask that the agent go over the comps with you so that you can ‘see’ how the agent came up with their suggested sales price.  We have a class for seller education as well….and yes, they are free and non-promotional.  You can find those class dates on the website (type in my name), or you can email me.  

DO I have to sign a contract to work with you?
   If you are selling a home, there is a sellers contract that you will need to sign.  This contract gives your agent the right to represent you for marketing, offers, and negotiations.  But what about if you are buying a home?  There is a form called a Buyers Agency Form, that is a contract between the buyer and the buyers agent.  As a buyer you do not have to sign this form.  As a buyer, I probably wouldn’t sign this paper, no matter how good an agent makes it sound.  Real estate and lending is all about verbiage and there are a ton of ‘scripts’ that can make any form sound reasonable….and good for you, when it may not actually be so.  In real estate, the buyers agency form is a pretty hotly contested piece of paper…there are agents who won’t work with you if you don’t sign it, and there are others (like me) who think it’s awful.  Customer loyalty is built with good customer service…not a piece of paper…but this is only MY opinion.  🙂  If you, as a buyer, choose to sign a buyers agency form, you are now legally in contract with that agent to buy a home with them.  Technically you always have the right to fire someone, but that is a legal contract for a period of time for a specific purpose.  The first question that, as an agent, I always ask a potential client is if they have signed a contract with a previous agent.  This protects everyone involved….it protects the other agent as I don’t want to step on another agents toes, it protects the potentials clients since if they are in a contract with a previous agent then they need to either let that contract expire, or deal with it in another way before hand, and it protects me because getting that call from another agent that they have a contract with one of your clients is not a good one.  So what happens if one of my clients then talks to another agent and signs a contract with that other agent?  Well, then they’re not my client anymore….they’re now they other agents client.  No matter what an agents says, or which ‘script’ they’re following…. you do NOT have to sign a Buyers Agency agreement to hire a Realtor.  

I’m not going to lie to you…. I know that this blog is going to ruffle some feathers, and while I debated actually sending it out…  I decided to do it anyway.  I want to say that I am not knocking anyone in my industry here.  Everyone has to choose to work the way that their ethics and morals dictate.  As a buyer, or seller, YOU need to ask the questions that mean most to you when hiring an agent.  What questions, and qualifications mean most to you?  Are you looking for someone professional looking, or someone more laid back?  Someone with a warped sense of humor, or someone more ‘traditional’?  There are a LOT of great agents out there, and some…well…  like any industry we have our share of crappy.  Sometimes you just have to go with your gut when talking with an agent, and hire the person that you are most comfortable with.  Always ask questions!  This is your adventure, and you are driving the bus…. we are just gps.  🙂

I’m always available to answer your questions, so feel free to reach out to me anytime.  🙂

Information is power, and I hope that I am able to help you.  Good luck, and as always…May the odds be ever in your favor out there….  AND If you are looking for a real estate agent, I would love to be able to help you.                                                                       
 
As always….this is just a quick overview…. again…and I can’t say this enough…please remember that your agent is NOT a salesperson, and should not be acting like one.  Real Estate is not really about houses, it is about relationships.  Your agent, and your lender work for YOU.  You drive the bus…we are merely GPS to help you get to your goals.  Like the classes, this weekly blog email is to help you with your home adventure.  The goal is to be informative and non-promotional.  🙂  All home buying adventures should START with the Home Buyer Education Classes. Don’t talk to lenders/agents until after the classes so you know the questions to ask, what all the paperwork means, and fully understand the process.  As always…the classes are Free and Non-Promotional.  We are not there to promote ourselves, or any ‘special’ agenda like some classes, and while we certainly hope you will call Chris or I, or both of us, to help with your home buying adventure, that certainly isn’t the main focus of the classes.  If you have any questions about this, or something you have heard… or if you would like me to assist you with your home adventure… please call, email, or text.  We are here to help.   

Thank you again for your business and your referrals!!  …and thank you for referring these classes to your friends, family, and co-workers. 
 
 .   ..disclaimer…if you have already purchased a home, or would no longer like to receive these emails, please let me know and I will be happy to remove you from any further mailings… 
 
 Upcoming Topics: What happens after an offer is made?  and
Water?  What water?  oh… the water under the house…..

Last Week:  Property Taxes… the elephant in the room

Have a great day, and I will talk to you soon,
;-D

Tracie DeMars / Realtor

ReMax Equity Group
License# 81289
Vancouver, WA
360-903-3504

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