Tips for Selecting a Real Estate Professional

By Mike Gambino
Prudential Prudential Patterson Realtors

Technology has changed the way consumers do business. The real estate industry is no exception. In fact, 77 percent of homebuyers use the Internet during their property search. (The 2005 NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® Profile of Homebuyers and Sellers) However, most agree that when it comes to buying or selling a home, a transaction of this magnitude requires the guidance of a professional. In the same study, 90 percent of buyers and 87 percent of sellers use a real estate professional during the process.

Whether you’re buying or selling a home, you’ll want to interview two or three real estate professionals. To locate a pool of potential candidates:

* Ask family, friends, and business associates for referrals.
* Attend open houses. If the sales professional or broker impresses you, ask for a business card.
* Drive through neighborhoods that interest you and look for yard signs to see what company handles most of the sales.
* When referred to a company rather than an individual, call and ask to speak with the “sales professional on duty.”
* Search local newspapers and real estate publications.
* Call the local Prudential Real Estate Network member office for a referral to an office in another town.

Now you’re ready for the interview. Whether you’re buying or selling, the sales professional should explain the entire process up front. Sellers can use the “listing presentation” to compare sales professionals on their preparation and professionalism. Ask questions that will display the sales professional’s experience, knowledge and motivation to help you. Questions such as:

* Do you work full time or part time?
* How long have you been selling homes in this area?
* Are you familiar with the areas I’m considering?
* What type of homes do you usually handle?
* What percentage of your business comes from referrals and repeat clients?
* How many sales have you closed?
* How many homes did you sell last year?
* What percentage of your listings sold during the listing period?
* Did they sell close to the asking price?
* On average, how many days does a home stay on the market?
* Will you guide me as I prepare the house to be shown?
* Will I receive a copy of the marketing plan?
* How will you advertise our home? In what publications and when will ads run?
* Will you employ an Internet marketing program?
* Will you hold open houses? How will you advertise an open house?
* What other ways will you else to get the word out?
* How often can I expect to be updated, even if there’s nothing to report?

A word to sellers: don’t base your selection solely on selling price or commission. It’s probably best to avoid working with someone who promises you the moon–in this case, an unrealistically high price–then has to make price reductions until the property sells. Instead, focus on marketing plans, service and past results. Also, don’t be persuaded by low commissions. A seller could actually net more than with a discount broker when a winning marketing plan combined with proper pricing results in a faster sale and at a better price.

Aim to select someone who is knowledgeable and with whom you feel comfortable. It almost ensures a productive and mutually rewarding relationship.

Mike Gambino can be reached at (314) 506-6700. Prudential Patterson Realtors is an independently owned and operated member of Prudential Real Estate Affiliates, Inc., a Prudential Financial company. Equal Housing Opportunity.
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