There are a number of things most people expect when engaging with a top real estate agent. They should be friendly, understand the local real estate market, have a fair degree of experience, and advise you on the best practices related to buying or selling property. But is that all you should expect? Since realtors are generally only paid a commission at the conclusion of a successful transaction, why wouldn’t you want to find a top real estate agent to work with?
To help wade through the sometimes overwhelming array of realtor options, here are some additional areas of expertise that can help you identify a truly top notch agent:
1. Emotional Intelligence
This is probably the most important thing you should expect from a great agent. You don’t want an agent who is simply trying to win your business to rack up another side. You want someone who sees you as an individual and is genuinely curious about your financial AND emotional needs. You need someone to guide you based on what is best for your personal situation, not the agent’s own pocketbook. Good agents are good at selling themselves so it can be hard to discern the true emotional intelligence of a really great agent so do your homework, read reviews, and call references. Also trust your instincts – personal chemistry is worth its weight in gold.
2. Creative Financier
Buying a home is not just a matter of putting down some cash and getting a mortgage for the balance of the offer price. There are a lot of variables that go into crafting a successful offer, particularly in a seller’s market. By working with a top real estate agent who is experienced with a wide range of financing options and understands when to show additional cash reserves or reduce the down payment to create more headroom for appraisal deltas will give you a serious leg up against competitive bids on offer day.
3. Lifestyle Architect
When you only have a few minutes to walk through a property before making an offer, it is nearly impossible to anticipate the surprises you’ll encounter when actually living in a home. Your agent should be able to point out how spaces can be most efficiently used and considerations related to your day-to-day living that you might never consider. How might a kitchen pantry be moved to a hallway closet to make way for a larger countertop? Did you consider that the cul-de-sac home at the base of a hill will make for a challenging uphill climb every time your kids want to go for a bike ride? Does the backyard allow for a permitted setback to build that Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) you’ve been contemplating? A great agent who asks thoughtful questions to deeply understand the needs of your family will proactively help you evaluate these types of considerations.
4. Master Networker
In the end, you don’t pay a great agent for their time. You are paying for their expertise, wisdom, and equally important, their network. A great agent has excellent relationships with lenders, title companies, attorneys, vendors, inspectors, appraisers, city planners, and especially other agents. People like to work with other people they trust, and a well respected and trustworthy agent will be able to make things happen for their clients that second tier realtors simply can’t accomplish. There are so many little things that go into consummating a transaction that you want the advantages that come with a realtor who is a master networker.
5. Family Therapist
For most people, buying or selling a home is one of the most expensive and stressful financial decisions that they will make in their lifetime. With this stress comes the potential for conflict with your spouse, kids, parents, or other parties involved in the transaction. A top real estate agent with exceptional emotional intelligence is also adept at helping groups of people resolve conflicts. They can recognize the emotional triggers of each party and help develop strategies to keep everyone on the same page and out of the weeds. Do not underestimate how important this can be in the transaction – you don’t want to win the deal at the cost of your marriage.
6. Technical Marketer
Today’s marketing landscape is awash in technology. It takes a special agent to understand the nuances of SEO, pixel tracking, social media, marketing automation, customer relationship management, and multi-channel engagement. Integrating various data systems that allows your agent to target prospective buyers is challenging. Yet reaching prospective clients in the channel that is most comfortable for them can lead to outstanding outcomes as opposed to merely acceptable ones. These tools allow your exceptional agent to better serve your needs and answer questions quickly and thoroughly. There’s nothing worse than finding yourself up against a pending offer date and not being able to get in touch with your agent.
7. Project Manager Supreme
The real estate transaction process involves a lot of moving pieces, many of which are unseen by the typical buyer or seller. Exceptional organizational skills make the difference between a seamless experience and one that is fraught with missteps, do overs, and frustration. Modern project management software that includes time-bound lists, gantt charts, and kanban boards provide transparency on all of the steps in the chain. These tools are the hallmarks of a great project manager, so ask how your agent will communicate the process and provide visibility into project status at all times.
The reality is that not all real estate professionals are equal. You owe it to yourself to do your due diligence and discover the difference between someone who is exceptional and will help you achieve your goals with the minimal amount of friction, and someone who will just get the job done. In the end, the choice is yours, so why settle?