By: Dian Hymer
January 12, 2004
There are many factors to consider when choosing a real estate agent to represent you in a real estate transaction. Ideally, you’d like to work with an agent who is experienced, trustworthy, professional, reliable, a specialist in the area where you want to buy or sell, and someone with whom you have a good rapport. Another quality, often overlooked, is an agent’s reputation within the local real estate community.
Working with an agent who has the respect of his or her colleagues can enhance your chances of successfully negotiating a home purchase or sale. In a multiple offer presentation, an agent’s reputation can be a critical factor in getting an offer accepted.
A desirable listing in Upper Rockridge, a hot neighborhood in the Oakland Hills east of San Francisco, received seven offers from hopeful bidders. An agent who had a reputation for being difficult to work with presented the highest offer.
The second best offer came from buyers whose agent had a reputation for being professional and easy to work with. She was known for working with sincere, qualified buyers; she had a good track record for closing deals.
The listing agent told the sellers of her concerns about working with the agent representing the highest offer. This buyer’s agent had a reputation for being belligerent, manipulative and amateurish.
The sellers asked their agent to call the agent representing the buyers with the second-best offer to find out if they would like the opportunity to match the first buyer’s price. The buyers were elated. The sellers countered their offer and they bought the house. These buyers might not have had this opportunity were it not for their agent’s sterling reputation.
In another multiple offer situation, two of the three buyer’s agents involved were from out of the area. It wasn’t that they didn’t have a good reputation. They were simply unknown to the listing agent.
The agent who was well-known to the listing agent represented the buyers who made the lowest of the three offers. Again, it was these buyers who received the counteroffer and bought the house. If an out-of-area agent had represented them, they wouldn’t have received preferential treatment.
HOUSE HUNTING TIP: If you’ve been working with an agent who isn’t a local specialist, and you find yourself losing out to other buyers, consider finding a local agent to represent you. Some buyers are reluctant to let go of their agent, particularly if the agent has worked hard for them and they have a good rapport. This is understandable. Ask your agent to refer you to a local specialist. This way, she can be paid a referral fee to compensate for her efforts.
Finding out about your agent’s reputation will take a little sleuthing on your part. One way to find out how effectively an agent works is to talk to a few of the agent’s past clients. Ask what they liked best and least about working with the agent.
Ask if there were any glitches during the transaction, and how many offers they had to write before they got into contract to buy a home. If there were problems during the transaction, how did the agent act under pressure? Were they satisfied with the results? Was the agent an adept negotiator?
The best agents are good communicators. Ask if the agent communicated effectively with all parties involved in the transaction. Evaluate the feedback you get carefully. The agent you select will represent you in your negotiations throughout your real estate transaction.
THE CLOSING: Your mortgage broker—if he’s local—might also be a good source of information about an agent’s reputation.
Dian Hymer is author of “House Hunting, The Take-Along Workbook for Home Buyers,” and “Starting Out, The Complete Home Buyer’s Guide,” Chronicle Books.