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Why Use a Realtor?


Working With Your Agent

Selecting the right real estate professional to help you buy or sell

your home is essential to a smooth transaction. For the best possible

experience, you should consider an agent's experience, personality and

responsiveness in your overall evaluations.

Here are some tips to help you choose and work with your agent.


How to choose an agent


When it comes to choosing a real estate agent, consumers who do their

homework can save thousands of dollars and experience a smooth

financial and physical transition. So don't slack off - decide what is

most important to you, and then find an agent who specializes in that

field. Does location matter most? Do you need a townhouse with a

garage? A four-bedroom home? A condo? A corner lot? Room for Fido to

run free in the yard? No yard? Perhaps cost is your main concern. Or



Ask friends and family members for referrals.


If you've found the general area in which you'd like to move, do an

informal survey by driving through neighborhoods and viewing yard

signs. Seeing the same name pop up time after time may indicate that

person is a specialist in the area.


Pay attention to designations. This is how you will know in what a real

estate agent specializes. You may be interested in these designations:

ABR (Accredited Buyer Representative), CLHMS (Certified Luxury Home

Marketing Specialist), CRP (Certified Relocation Professional), CRS

(Certified Residential Specialist) and SRES (Senior Real Estate

Specialist). There are dozens of designations agents pursue for

continuing education, so find one that fits your needs.


Once you have your list narrowed down to about three real estate

professionals, schedule interviews. Agents may ask to meet at your home

if you are selling. If you are buying, expect to meet the agents at

their offices.


If selling, ask the agent how he or she would establish a price. You

may request a Comparative Market Analysis, also called a CMA, which

shows the actual market value of similar homes in the area.


If selling, ask the agent how he or she would market your property.


Ask the agent how often you should expect to hear from him or her.

Know how and when you will communicate to avoid unrealistic


Pay attention to the agent's office hours and whether or not you will

be invited to access them via a cell phone, pager or e-mail.


Ask how long the agent has been in real estate. While time is not the

most important factor, it may demonstrate the agent's experience.


Ask about awards and designations.


Pay attention to the agent's listening skills. Does he or she cut you

off before you've finished a sentence? There's nothing worse than

looking at houses you have no interest in because the agent has not

listened carefully to your needs or having your home on the market too

long because the wrong buyers are being targeted.


Ask the agent what his or her fee structure is. Do they require a

percentage of the sales price, do they work for a flat fee, or will

they be paid by the seller (if you're the buyer)?


If you are unsatisfied with the agent's plan or personality, thank the

agent for taking the time to meet with you, and repeat the process with

another agent. It is time-consuming to meet with multiple agents, but

it's worthwhile to find the right one.

Once you've found the right agent to represent you, hold up your end of

the relationship. There are simple things you can do to help your agent

get you the best deal.


How to work with your agent


If you are selling, create an information sheet that lists your home's

features and best qualities, especially those that people might

otherwise overlook. Give this to your agent, who may be able to use the

information when marketing or talking with potential buyers.


When selling, talk to the agent about upgrading. Your home may need

fresh paint or new carpet. (Make sure you choose neutral colors.)


If selling, keep it clean. Eliminate cobwebs and dust. Keep the

bathroom counters and mirrors wiped down. Vacuum and sweep daily during

the selling process.


If buying, be clear about what you want. Make a list of your priorities

numbered one through 10 and give it to your agent. You can always

revise the list, but give your agent something concrete so he or she

can research available listings effectively.

Helpful tips


The agent's real estate office can say a lot about him or her. Is it

organized or cluttered? When is it open? Does the office schedule make

it easily accessible? Is the office clean?


Your agent is an authority you hire to help you make the right

decisions, but when push comes to shove, you have the final word.


Hiring an expert will give you the best advantage. This is an enormous advantage for buyers, sellers and



Buying a home is likely to be the biggest single investment you'll ever make. Invest wisely.


Remember that home values fluctuate with the economy.