How to Choose a Real Estate Agent

By Kevin Dougherty | June 4, 2020
You Need A Realtor

Parent and child, teacher and student, doctor and patient, real estate agent and home buyer/seller: These are some of the most important relationships you’ll have in life. Some might question if that last one was in jest, but it couldn’t be more true. Do you know how to pick a real estate agent when the time comes to do it?

Forbes put out an article about picking a real estate agent that actually said, “Choose the person, not the experience.” We believe this to be very poor advice. Experience is a critical component when making this decision. We strongly believe better advice would be, “Choose the person, and make sure they have the experience!” Being a good guy just isn’t enough. There are some wonderful, caring, altruistic people out there that don’t have the requisite experience needed and as such would not be good candidate to guide you through one of the largest financial transactions of your life.

There are a multitude of articles out there about how to choose a real estate agent. We believe it boils down to trust. And trust is made up of two components: Competence and Character. If you can find a agent that possesses high levels of competence in the real estate industry coupled with strong personal and professional character, you’ll be in good hands.

Trust = Competence + Character

A referral from a friend or family member is probably the best way to find such a person but be careful, people often refer agents just because they know them, not because they trust them. That said, don’t be afraid of doing business with a friend – as long as they possess the character and competence that you will need and deserve. Regardless of how you are introduced to them, vet them well. Ask them about;

  1. Time in the business and in what capacity.
  2. Number of transactions they have executed in their career.
  3. Ancillary experience and knowledge (construction, development, permitting, renovation, taxation, appraisal and valuation, economics, etc.).
  4. What their team or staff consists of.
  5. Ask for references – and call the references!
  6. Do they have a strong marketing plan (if you’re a seller).

You’ll know if you’re getting made-up answers or not. It’s hard to fake your way through an interview like this.

The Advantages of Reef Realty
In our specific case we possess some very valuable and unique competitive advantages. We enjoy sharing a wealth of knowledge and decades of experience with you to help put you in a position to make the best decisions possible. You will receive the highest level of customized coaching and guidance possible to benefit you throughout your transaction and your future as a homeowner. Unlike anything you’ll get with an automated system on the internet or a lesser experienced agent, you will be armed with the best information, knowledge and resources available to help you make the best decisions possible throughout the process.

This isn’t lip service. We’re able to offer service like this because of our background and experience in many facets of the real estate industry.

  • Building / Construction Knowledge

    Most agents have never even built a sandbox, let alone a house. We have built and/or renovated hundreds of homes and we share that invaluable construction experience with our clients. You’ll use the knowledge you gain during this process for the rest of your life.

    • When the inspector makes mention of an old electrical panel, are you going to know if it needs replace or not?
    • When a foundation pier is compromised, are you going to have any idea about the repair cost or scope of work needed to fix it?
    • When a roof truss is cracked and sagging, are you going to know which vendor to call get a bid and fix it?
    • When any of a multitude of physical defects are discovered, as they inevitably will be, are you going to know whether or not to walk away the property or move forward?

    These are just a few of the hundreds of questions you may have during your transaction. And we have the answers. Only through decades of hands-on experience will any agent be able to answer these questions.

  • Valuation / Appraisal Knowledge

    Does your agent have an appraisal background? We do! Spending several years at the beginning of our real estate career work in the appraisal field, we got an invaluable education in the valuation and economics of real property. When you ask your agent, “What do you think that property is worth?” or “How much do you think we should offer?”, does your agent respond with some version of “Let me look at the comps” or “Let me run a CMA”. If he does, you might want to think about getting a new agent right away. Rarely does an agent have a true, deep understanding of the economics and valuation of real property. Understanding how to adjust for the differences in physical characteristics between the subject property and the comparable sales is critical. But also understanding how to adjust for the less tangible aspects is just as important. This can be the difference in being able to negotiate 10s of thousands of dollars on your behalf. Time of sale, topography, functional utility, quality of construction, view, location, financing… these are all factors that should be taken into consideration but rarely are. Make sure you find and agent that has lots of experience and formal training in this area.

  • Transactional Work

    And of course, only after having spent decades in the real estate brokerage industry will any agent gain the experience level that will allow him to guide you in the right direction. Just as important, he will help you avoid the many pitfalls that await you. Its been well proven that you have to spend a minimum of 10,000 hours in any professional to become an expert at anything – including real estate. That’s a minimum of 5 years if you were to work full 40-hour weeks. In real estate there is a strong argument to be made that it takes at least twice that long before gaining your informal “expert” designation just because of the nature of the industry.

They are very rare, but if you can find an agent that has these qualifications, at a minimum you should interview them. If you’re having hard time finding someone that fits this description, you can always talk to one of the agents at Reef Realty.