Strong Communication: The Hallmark of a Great Real Estate Agent
By: Kyle Spearin
Communication is crucial in any endeavor.
Amplify that even more when it comes to real estate. You are going to be relying on this agent to put in timely offers, reach out to other agents, and answer your questions. A breakdown in communication could be detrimental. On the other hand, excellent communication is a tremendous asset.
To ensure optimal communication, make sure that you get the answer to each of these questions. Feel free to add your own as well, the more, the merrier.
- How will we be communicating?
In order to work together effectively, you need to be on the same page as your agent. A good agent is versatile in their communication methods. They should be able to call, text, or email effectively.
When working with an agent, they should be able to accommodate your communication style. At the beginning of your initial meeting, one of the first things they should do is get your phone number and email (if they don’t have both already). They should ask for all of your contact information so that they can reach you in a variety of ways–this is like an insurance policy in the event that you check one form of communication more than another.
In addition to having various lines of communication with your agent, you should spell out to them what your preferred form of contact is. Of course there are times for texting, calling, and so on, but a good agent will be very sympathetic to your needs in order to give you the best possible experience. Don’t take their word for this, though, test it out by reaching out to them in various ways. See if they get back to you.
- Does this person have integrity?
All agents SHOULD have a high level of integrity.
You want to make sure that you are their client first and foremost. A common mistake that first time homebuyers make is thinking that an agent works for them when they really don’t.
An example of how this might happen is if you were to see a house on Zillow that you like. You reach out to the agent listed. This agent is the seller’s agent. As such, they have an obligation to the seller and will put their interests above anyone else’s. Some states allow dual agency where an agent can represent a buyer and a seller, but that would work to both of your disadvantages as well because they would be legally obligated to share all information with both sides.
When interviewing agents, you want to make sure that they are loyal to you above all. Make sure that there is no affiliation with the home being sold or anything else that might make a transaction you’re involved with a conflict of interest. They should disclose this information to you, but you should take this into your own hands to be on the safe side.
Another way to get a feel for integrity is to see if the agent is “too pushy.” Of course they want you to buy because that’s what puts money in their pocket, but they should let you make the decision. An agent should put your wants and needs above their own, yet also be realistic with you. They shouldn’t show you houses that don’t fit your criteria, but they should also give you ideas so that you can see how far your money goes and help you get a better feel for the market.
Real estate agents sometimes get the used car dealer reputation–which can be true if an agent is overly pushy or too salesy. Even though they are sales oriented, if they do their job correctly they should be able to sell you without pushing. A good agent finds you the right house by listening to your needs and adapting.
If you find that an agent is too pushy, it might be time to move on.
- What is the response time like?
Think about the last time you went out to eat. What was your experience like?
If you’ve ever been out to eat, you know that a tell-tale sign of a great dining experience is an attentive waiter or waitress. They refill your drink without you asking, check in to see how food tastes, and comes by frequently to see if you need anything else.
Real estate is a service industry, too. In many ways, a great real estate agent must be like a great waiter. You should be able to reach out and get a response in a timely manner. This doesn’t necessarily mean instantaneously because they could be with another client, however, they should be able to get back to you within a couple of hours (the obvious exception is at night if they are sleeping).
When talking to an agent, it will be very apparent whether they have fast response times based on just a few interactions. Some of the best agents might have a dozen clients, but still get back to you quickly. Being busy is not an excuse for silence, great agents make each client feel special and give them individual attention. If you don’t get this feel from your potential agent, it’s time to go back to the drawing board.
A great agent is a great communicator. If you want to get the house of your dreams, be sure to ask these important questions before signing on the dotted line.