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Tips To Hiring The Right Real Estate Agent

Added by Timothy Tyree in Articles & Publications, Business Law on April 11, 2017

I have worked with many great agents over the years. Great agents bring value to every transaction in a variety of ways. Below are a few tips on how to get the most out of your relationship with a real estate agent.

When selecting any professional, my advice is often the same. Find someone that answers the phone, returns phone calls and e-mails, shows up to meetings and displays a genuine interest in you and your business. The right agent should be easily conversant in the type of property transaction you’re trying to accomplish. He should know the market, quickly identify big-picture issues and generally describe the range of services you might want or need. But most importantly, a good agent listens. All real estate is unique and so too are its users. Matching you up with the right property (or buyer or tenant in a disposition) not only requires knowledge of the dirt, but also requires knowing what’s important to you.

Do some research on the agent’s experience and background. All agents pass the same test and take the same core classes to become an agent but clearly not all agents are qualified to assist with all types of real estate. The background, degrees and experience of real estate agents are as diverse as the properties available. Many agents have earned specialty degrees unique to their market. Look for membership designations relevant to your needs. In commercial brokerage, look for designations such as SIOR (the Society of Industrial and Office REALTORS®), CCIM (Certified Commercial Investment Member), CLS (Certified Leasing Specialist) or CSM (Certified Shopping Center Manager). In residential real estate, experience is often the key. Look for agents and brokerages marketing properties in your particular area. Those with multiple listings and an established track record within your desired neighborhood are more likely to bring the most value to your transaction.

Pay your agent fairly. Most agents work on a commission basis and often split their commission with the agent on the other side of the transaction. Have an open and honest discussion with your agent up front, understand the scope of services to be delivered and how much and when she expects to be paid. Not all properties deserve the common six percent commission either. Some difficult to market properties may deserve a higher commission. Some high priced properties may merit a lower commission or flat fee. Whatever compensation arrangement is agreed upon, it must be in writing. In Idaho, if the commission agreement is not in writing, and otherwise meets other statutory requirements, it is unenforceable and no commission is due. Therefore, the agent is well justified to ask for a written agreement upfront. Also, it is poor form to try to re-trade the deal at the closing table. An agent may offer a part of his/her commission to overcome some hurdle to closing, but don’t be put off if he/she won’t.

Finally, understand that in Idaho all agents owe a duty to disclose all adverse material facts the agent knows or reasonably should know about the property. “Adverse material fact” means a fact that would significantly affect the desirability or value of the property to a reasonable person or which establishes a reasonable belief that a party to the transaction is not able to or does not intend to complete that party’s obligations under a real estate contract. As seller, you may not have to disclose particular information about the property (though honest disclosure is usually the best policy). So if you have information about the property you don’t want disclosed to the buyer, don’t tell your agent. Your agent may have a duty to disclose the information and you don’t want to put your agent in that situation. Conversely, your agent has no obligation to inspect the property to find any or all adverse material facts for you. It is your obligation to fully research the property for your own needs. A good agent will assist with that endeavor, but don’t expect the agent to do your job.

There is no return policy for real estate. To avoid any remorse once the deal is done, take steps to make sure the deal is right for you. Hiring the right agent is the first step in that endeavor.