When housing costs began to boom, so did the real estate industry as a whole. Selling real estate became a hot career, alluring folks interested in capitalizing on the blazing market.
While all agents have access to the same tools - local comps, sales histories and other comparative tools - not all agents are the same.
Experience gets thrown around frequently, but there’s often no barometer of what experience entails - is six months as an agent experienced? Or is 16 years enough to use the adjective? Further, experience is only one important aspect of choosing the right agent and real estate team to handle a home sale or purchase.
“When looking for a Realtor, experience is important, but equally important is having, for example, a team of professionals supporting the lead agent,” said East Bay Realtor Liz Venema of Venema Homes Real Estate Team. “You need to also like their energy. They will be in your life for one of your largest purchases or the sale of your home, so it’s important you value their insight and know they will stay on time, on task, on budget and have systems in place to ensure your interests are met.”
Venema said that while reading glowing reviews of an agent on their website is one way to get a feel for their abilities, it’s equally important to interview the agent to learn how they work and how well-versed they are in your neighborhood or other neighborhoods of interest.
“Ask them any questions you have,” Venema said. “You may want to know how many homes they’ve sold in the neighborhood. Bring addresses and all information you have when you meet with an agent. Ask questions like, how many homes they’ve sold within your price range. This is important because if a home is $3 million and the agent has never sold a home in that range, odds are they won’t meet your needs.
“Most sellers are familiar with who sells in their neighborhood,” Venema continued, “but I always ask if they would like a verbal recommendation over reading about us on our website, and have created a list of clients willing to have a live conversation about their experience with us.”
While agents carry the bulk of the responsibility in home transactions, they aren’t the only person needed to comprise a winning team.
Realtors often have a long list of established vendors they’ve worked with in the past - those with specialties outside of their area of expertise. Venema, for one, tries to maintain relationships with at least three different trusted vendors in every subject matter. This, she said, gives the client options and puts them in control over which vendors they want to use.
There are, however, a few services Venema said clients should never pay for.
“Our agents pay for all marketing including photography and any drone interior or exterior shots,” she said. “A seller should never hire their own. What I have noticed during this shift and adjustment on pricing in the market is that more and more agents are using their iPhones instead of spending the money on photos. I would ask any listing agent who they use for photography and make a point to have professional photographs put into your contract.”
She said that if staging is needed, that should also be written into the contract.
“I usually don't pay for staging, but many agents do,” Venema said. “Staging is an important piece of listing a home and should be discussed in detail before signing the listing agreement ”
Finally, another key member of any real estate team is the lender, who Venema said is the second most important part of a real estate transaction. Lenders should have a President’s Club or equivalent designation, have systems in place for a smooth approval and maintain solid communication skills.
“The lender is the most important part of the transaction, other than the agent,” Venema said. “My team has all top banks and mortgage company top lenders on speed dial. The listing agent is now allowed to speak with the buyer's lender, which is great. I always vet them before presenting the agent's offer.”
Venema explained that experts in real estate trends say the individual agent is on the way out.
“Why hire an individual agent?” she asked. “What if they go on vacation? Get sick? Sellers and buyers are feeling more and more comfortable hiring a full team of people working to get them the best experience possible.
“I have full agents, a showing agent, a director of operations, a listing agent, a transaction coordinator, a team executive assistant, general contractor and extensive vendor list, “ she continued. “I have a full service team without requiring clients to pay a higher commission. Anyone looking to buy or sell their home should look for an agent with a team backing them.”
To learn more, connect with the team at Venema Homes online.