Finding an agent you can work with
Q: I just hung up the phone on a perfectly horrible experience with a local real estate broker in Georgia.
After having a heart surgery and the other medical problems, I decided to sell it. I called a local real estate agent I heard about on the radio and left a message and got a call back.
The man I spoke to was so arrogant, condescending and rude. I was trying to squeeze a question into his 10-minute lecture on selling my home that I really didn't need, but he then raised his voice at me telling me just to shut up and listen.
I am an intelligent, 60-year old woman with two bachelors' degrees. The way he was talking to me reminded me of how one would speak to a teenager who didn't know anything. It left such a bad taste in my mouth that I really didn't care how cheap his services are compared to other agents.
Please refer me to a nice Realtor with a great "bedside manner" who can really help me in this situation. I appreciate all your help and advice. It helps a lot of people to make the right decision. Thank you very much!
A: We're sorry that you've had an unfortunate call with this agent. Instead of recommending someone (who may or may not be appropriate for you), we want to share the best way to find a great real estate agent.
Start by asking other folks in your neighborhood -- as well as friends, family members and other acquaintances -- whom they used and if they had a good experience with that person.
Over the years, it's become clear to us that some people are good at managing their small businesses (and then they often grow) and some are not (and then they fail or remain stagnant). When the person who answers the phone is rude and condescending, it's smart not to use that company, no matter what business they're in.
When we look to hire a professional to assist us, we do exactly what we've just recommended to you: We ask around, talk to neighbors, friends and relatives about their experiences, and make sure to ask not only if the experience ended successfully (i.e. if they get what they wanted out of the interaction) but also if they enjoyed the experience.
We have a friend who inherited a fixer-upper property years ago from her aunt, and then had a terrible time fixing it up and selling it. She used a contractor and an agent referred by a cousin, only to have a terrible experience. When she went back to the cousin later, after the deal closed, to ask how her experience was with these people, the cousin told her flat out that it was perfectly awful. When our friend asked why she referred those people, the cousin said, "You asked who I used, not how much I enjoyed the experience."
Now, you'd expect that a relative who professes to like you might include that bit of knowledge, but it shows you that people usually only give the bare minimum of information. If asked directly, they'll respond -- but you have to ask.
Once you get the names of a handful of real estate agents who have assisted your friends, relatives and neighbors with their sales, you need to interview the agents to find out if any of them will be a good match for you and your property.
And, that's what many folks miss -- they don't spend enough time asking the right sorts of questions when building their real estate team. They might ask how long someone has been in the business, and even what area they work in most often. But they might forget to ask what is the price range the agent works with most often. They might not ask what is the typical age of the agent's buyers and sellers, and what type of housing the agent (and his or her brokerage firm) specializes in.
What makes for a good working relationship between buyer and agent or seller and agent is how comfortable you feel with that person. Do you feel as though the agent is listening closely to you? Does the agent offer great advice, or advice that you recognize is helpful even if you don't agree? At the end of the day, do you feel as though the agent is supportive of what you want to do with your purchase or sale?
Agents come in all shapes and sizes, and you're not going to be comfortable with everyone. That's why we encourage you to take your time, meet a bunch of different agents, and get to know them before you start really working together. Because once you hire someone, the relationship quickly becomes like a short-term marriage, and can be as happy or as painful as a real one.
Good luck. And, thanks for listening to Ilyce's show.
(Ilyce R. Glinkâs latest book is "Buy, Close, Move In!" If you have questions, you can call her radio show toll-free (800-972-8255) any Sunday, from 11a-1p EST. Contact Ilyce through her website, http://www.thinkglink.com.)