By Dawn Whalen
Whalen Realty Group at F.C. Tucker Company
Purchasing a home is one of the biggest investments most people make during their lifetime. In fact, according to a study by the Federal Reserve Board in 2020, homeowners have a net worth 40 times greater than that of renters. There are multiple benefits to owning a home, but before homeownership comes to fruition, the sale is generally organized by a licensed and trained realtor. Choosing the right realtor to find a buyer’s new home and represent them throughout the process is an important decision, and one that should not be taken lightly. The following questions will help homeowners and buyers identify a licensed agent that best aligns with their needs.
- Do you focus on primarily residential real estate sales?
Commercial and residential real estate are different. While some agents can juggle the needs of both sectors, many choose to focus on one area or the other. Whether a buyer is moving into their first home, or 10th, having a realtor that primarily works in that field of real estate is invaluable.
- What is your schedule for showings and meetings?
Most people have busy schedules and limited time to attend showings or leave their home for a potential buyer to take a tour. For this reason, it’s critical to confirm that the realtor’s schedule aligns with the buyer’s schedule. For example, if the buyer can only tour houses during the day, then the agent needs to be available during those hours to answer questions and arrange showings and vice versa.
Talk with the agent about their availability and make sure it aligns with the buyer’s needs. A realtor who only works in the evenings may not be a fit for a buyer that works evenings, takes night classes, or manages/coaches children’s practices and homework.
- How do you communicate with your clients?
With so many methods of communication available, it’s important for a family and their agent to recognize what method(s) of communication work best. Some agents may only send their clients emails with listings, dates and document needs, while others may be more willing to send links via text, Messenger, WhatsApp or through other platforms, including making a simple phone call.
- Do you have a network of trusted inspectors, contractors and repair companies?
Experienced realtors understand that many home buyers or sellers will need a recommendation for a home inspector, roof inspector, plumber, handyman, title company, landscaper, etc. An agent with their clients’ best interests in mind will have access to a list of preferred vendors. These companies become preferred because they have a track record of completing a job well and on time. In many cases, these are service providers the agent has used personally or are referred by past clients.
- Do you have a list of references?
Don’t be afraid to ask for references, and then reach out to those people. A qualified realtor will be happy to provide a list of references. Contact the people on the list and find out how well the agent communicated the need for documents that pertain to the closing, upcoming tours or showings.
- Do you have experience with special requests or needs?
If the buyer has special needs that are critical to the location or features in a home purchase, ask the agent if they have experience in working with those needs. For example, if the home should be wheelchair accessible, find out if the realtor has experience in working with buyers that need a wheelchair-friendly layout. Don’t be afraid to discuss special requests or needs before officially hiring a realtor.
Buying a home should be fun, but it can also be stressful. Working with an experienced agent who understands the process is available when the client needs them and can communicate clearly and effectively will make the home buying or selling process run smoothly. It’s easy to use a friend or neighbor as a realtor, but if that person’s schedule doesn’t align with when the buyer is available, or does not have the right experience, the whole process can suddenly become complicated. Do some homework and take time to find the right agent before moving forward in buying or selling.
Dawn Whalen is owner of Whalen Realty Group, at the F.C. Tucker Company, and has worked in residential real estate for more than 17 years. She’s a licensed realtor, broker, is a member of MIBOR, and founder of Whalen’s Heroes, which provides funding to purchase service animals for veterans. She can be reached at Dawn@whalenrealtygroup.com.