Hiring a real estate agent to market and sell your home is an extremely important decision. For most people, your home is your primary asset – you need to choose the best real estate agent available to help you protect the equity you have built in your investment. Buyers have an equally important decision to make. Your real estate agent has access to the information on your next dream home – you need to rely on them to find you exactly the types of homes you’re interested in. The tough part is, there are literally millions of real estate agents out there to choose from. How do you pick the right one? During your interview with an agent, you should keep the following 10 tips in mind:1. Pay attention to way the agent acts on your first meeting. Dress, body language, confidence – these are all tell-tale signs that will tip you off as to how serious and experienced they are. Let’s face it, real estate is a business – you want to hire an agent that will treat your greatest possession with the respect it deserves. Dress is a big indicator – a shirt and tie should be minimum dress requirements for a first meeting with a client, if not a full suit or formal dress for a woman. Any agent that dresses down for your appointment might not be taking their job seriously enough and probably isn’t someone you want to hire to market your home. Also pay attention to body language and confidence – does the agent seem at ease in front of you or do they seem nervous? Is their presentation smooth or fraught with hesitation and questions they weren’t able to answer? Does the agent seem difficult to talk with or not willing to explain details to you? You are looking for an agent who gives you the respect you deserve by dressing for the occasion, is knowledgeable and at ease speaking with you (a potential client), will take the time to answer your questions honestly and acts like they have done many such interviews in the past.2. How did the agent follow up with you when you contacted them? How long did it take? Usually agents who are serious about the business should return your contact request within 24 hours. If the agent you are interviewing took longer than 72 hours to respond, you might want to seek an agent who is better about follow-up.3. Beware of agents who ask you this question: “So, how much do you think your home is worth?” An experienced agent should tell you what your home is worth and stand by that figure based on a strong analysis of sales data for comparable properties. That’s one of the reasons you are paying your agent, isn’t it? Any agent who asks you what you feel your home is worth before they give you a figure is looking to use that figure against you. If you think it’s worth less than the sales range the agent already determined, the agent might take your listing at the lower amount to sell it fast, maybe costing you thousands of dollars. If you think it is worth more, the agent might simply agree with you to gain the listing and cost you months of time while your home sits on the market un-sold before eventually having to lower the price. You eventually determine the listing price of your home. However, home pricing is one of the most important pieces of advice your agent can give – don’t work with someone who isn’t confident about their own estimates.4. Make sure your agent addresses exactly how they will market your home. A good agent doesn’t rely on just one or two areas to market your home. You need an agent who gives your home the greatest exposure in as many areas as possible. This is one of the biggest services your agent can provide. Any agents who skimp on marketing or try to explain why certain marketing avenues aren’t important are trying to pull a fast one. Marketing costs money – many agents would rather put that money in their pocket and try to convince you that it isn’t needed. But if they aren’t marketing your home, what are you paying for? Your home on the MLS, a sign in the yard and the hope that someone will eventually buy it? Make sure to choose an agent that offers you the service and marketing your home needs to sell.5. Watch out for sales gimmicks. Agents who have to rely on tricks to gain business such as “I’ll buy your home if it doesn’t sell”, “Your home sold in 30 days or I’ll sell it for free” and other similar programs usually don’t explain the fine print very carefully. The bottom line is – would you rather work with a REALTOR who is focused on doing business with you and selling your home the right way or one who tries to hook you with one of these programs which, in the end, is the last thing you want to happen?6. Does the agent make full use of current technology in their business? An agent who isn’t on top of current technology such as internet marketing and e-mail correspondence might be missing a large portion of potential buyers. It’s also a bad sign that the agent isn’t willing to adapt to current business practices.7. Is the agent familiar with the local market and current industry trends? Are they honest in assessing market conditions and how this affects your current buying or selling situation? We are in a buyers market right now – inventory is high and homes require more time to sell and more aggressive marketing. Is the agent trying to gloss over these details or view them with rose-colored glasses?8. What type of guarantees does the agent provide? If you are unhappy with the service you are being provided, are you able cancel your listing or buyer agency agreement without penalty? Good agents will give you a guarantee of services and some may even allow you to terminate the listing or buyer agency agreement without penalty if you are not provided with the services you are promised.9. How focused is your agent on customer service? It should be a top priority. You should look for an agent who is willing to keep you regularly informed about all aspects of the buying or selling process.10. When will the services that the agent is offering to provide be delivered? A Virtual Tour is a great tool, but if it takes the agent a month to produce it, it’s not doing you any good for that first month when you can expect your most activity? For buyers, when can you expect the agent to show you your first homes?
SEO for Real Estate AgentsI am currently speaking to several real estate agents across the country about search engine optimization and how it can benefit their marketing strategy. First off, you need an SEO strategy in place to help your website get seen! If you’re an agent, the real estate company you work for probably has a website production option where they customize a website for you. This is good in some aspects, but not when it comes down to being unique and offering a unique perspective on the market. When people are looking for an agent, they might already have a company in mind. If not, they will just click on the first link in Google when they type in “real estate agent santa monica”. Your best bet is to created a simply blogging website, using WordPress. It is highly customizable and the search engines love them, because they are updated with timely content and the website structure is so that they can be read very easily.Blogging Tips for Real Estate AgentsNow if I were a real estate agent, I would break out what I wanted to say into different topics/categories. I would write about the condo market, beach front property, luxury properties, apartment rentals and apartment complexes. The key is to mix it up and give your personal take on real estate. You would be surprised, but with a proper SEO strategy in place, your posts and articles will shoot to the top of Google and readers who type in “Where is the best place to buy a condo in Santa Monica” will find your article title “The best place to buy a condo in Santa Monica”. You will most likely be on the first page of Google AND your credibility will speak for itself! People will read your post and contact you if they like what they see. This is key to generating new leads with the help of some good real estate SEO.Build Your Own SiteBy building your own site, you have more control over what is showing up, how it is seen, and what content you want to push out to your readers. Search engines like unique and timely content. This puts you in the driver seat to push out content as often as you would like. For it to be seen in the search engines is another thing. That’s where search engine optimization comes in. My family has been in the Real Estate industry for over 15 years. I have realized, it is a very competitive industry. If you have the right tactics up your sleeves, you can jump ahead of your competition. You just need to know where to look.
MONEY MATTERSAre you planning on buying or selling a home? Maybe refinancing? Perhaps you’d just like to pick up a few tips on home buying, selling and mortgage borrowing-if so you may want keep track of Money Matters in the months ahead as I will be giving out all kinds of tips and insights as we approach the home buying-selling season. I will be discussing a wide variety of real estate and mortgage financing issues you should know (Things real estate agents don’t want you to know). Well, good agents won’t have a problem with you knowing this information but the part-timers and less ethical operators would certainly prefer you not know what I am going to share with you!You see, buying or selling a home is the largest investment of a lifetime for most people and it is a BIG business deal…a transaction composed people, emotions, contracts and cash…all the ingredients for legal and financial pain if you don’t know what you are doing. Real estate agents earn a commission when a home is sold whether they are the listing agent, the selling agent or both. Real estate agents typically (and legally) represent sellers in a real estate transaction and not buyers. Yet, every day, homebuyers refer to the real estate agent as “my real estate agent”…they are not your real estate agent…they are the home seller’s agent and agents have a legal duty to get the best selling price for the seller. Further, anything you tell them can and probably will be used against you to extract a higher selling price out of the deal. Sellers on the other hand are often manipulated into signing long term listing contracts for up to a year by an agent who will simply throw the listing into the multiple listing service (MLS) and hope another agent sells the property for them.For agents, the name of the game is to get listing contracts…a common slogan amongst real estate agents is: “if you don’t list, you don’t last”. Once an agent gets a listing contract from a home seller, they will get the bulk of the commission when the house is sold whether they sell it or another agent sells the home. Not many sellers know this fact and many are swooned into long term listing agreements with hopeful promise of selling their homes at the highest possible price only to find out they don’t. Agents will say and do most anything to get a listing contract shy of breaking the law. And the big question for home sellers is are you working with a part time or full time agent? What is their background in marketing and sales? Do you really want to sign a long term listing agreement with a part timer that has one toe in the tub and no business background? Were talking about a business deal right?Whether you are buying a home or selling a home you should be clearly aware that you will enter into legally binding contracts and relying on mortgage lenders to provide financing for the project. The question then becomes; how much do you know about contract law and mortgage financing? What are the most important elements of a contract and how does that impact you as a buyer or seller? This series of articles is generally drawn from my E-Report (101 Real Estate Tips for homebuyers, sellers and money borrowers). The report is designed as a crash course to provide you the information you need to know to protect your legal and financial interests whether you are a homebuyer or seller. This series of articles will touch upon the information you should know to keep from making blatantly stupid mistakes that could hurt you legally and financially and we’ll try to have some fun in the process…Which reminds me! If you would like to receive a FREE copy of my E-Report: 101 Tips For Homebuyers, Sellers And Money Borrowers, go to smart Books website, send us an email and requesting a copy and we’ll send it to your email address within 24 hours-absolutely free-Another Ezine Articles Exclusive! Don’t forget to say you saw it at Ezine! Stay tuned!Copyright © 2006
James W. Hart, IV
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