My first blog's topic was all about the technicalities of what an agent is. This post will focus on why consumers should actually hire a real estate agent and how you should select him or her.
There a tons of info-graphics from a variety of resources spewing the plethora of reasons you should hire an agent (see: http://realtormag.realtor.org/sales-and-marketing/handouts-for-customers/for-sellers/7-reasons-work-realtor). The main reason is it s is the agent's PROFESSION, not yours! They know what they are doing; they have the resources, the network, the inside-scoop. YOU DON'T. Do you see THEM try to do *your* job - whether you are a dentist, teacher, or clerical worker? NO, they don't have your training and experience, and you do not have theirs.
Now, some agents you might be referred to or meet could be relatively new to the business; don't disregard them just because of that. Many brokerages have rigorous training programs, classes, mentor requirements for each new agent and they are not left to fly on their own. My office, Keller Williams American Premier Realty, in Bel Air, is one of those real estate brokerages). Some of the most conscientious agents are newer agents!
I hope you noticed I used the word "hire". When you buy or sell a house with an agent, you hire them! You do NOT "use" them or even really "work with" them because they are working *FOR* you !
In Maryland, no agent represents you unless you enter into a written agreement with them! So if you want to sell your house, you must sign a Listing Agreement. If you want to buy a house and you want an agent to represent you when they are showing you homes and to present an offer on your behalf, then you must sign a Buyer Agency Agreement. This is important because many consumer do not realize that if you call the listing agent of a property for sale and they show you the house themselves, they represent the seller, not you! Even if it not the listing agent but some other agent that you do not have a written agreement with, that agent still does NOT represent you; the represent the seller even IF they do not know the seller! There is a state form that MUST be given to you by any agent that does NOT represent you if you meet them; it is called Understanding Whom the Real Estate Agent Represents.
Also note, that every listing or buyer agreement that you sign technically is with the BROKER not the agent! The specific individual is likely named within the agreement, but in legality, each listing agreement and buyer agency agreement is a contract that outlines the duties and obligations - legal and financial - of what you and the broker agree to do. If you ever have an issue with your agent that you cannot rectify directly with them you need to call the broker! Many agents won't like it that I am saying that, but it is the best way to resolve anything that pops up. Brokers even have the right as the party in your listing or buyer agency contract to assign a different real estate salesperson to conclude the deal if it is best for you. Remember I said in Consumer Ed Blog #1 that no agent can function w/o a broker because the broker is the one ultimately legally responsible for the agent? This is one of those situations where the broker acts within their duties and rights.
So HOW do you actually select an agent? Many consumers ask their friends and family if they know of any; they may see ads; they may check on-line; they may even get a postcard in the mail. Every seller and buyer should interview a couple of agents to see who they mesh with well and whose services, work ethos and personality they feel they like the best and who fits their needs best.
When you do interview them ask them questions - lots & lots & lots of questions! Stay tuned to for the next blog on what to ask!
If you have any questions about this information, please feel free to give me a call at 443-604-7721.
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