By Bruce Cathcart
Step 1 to finding a great agent involved getting a recommendation from someone whose opinion you trust and then asking them the right questions to see if their recommendation would be a good match for you and your type of real estate transaction. Step 2 involved researching that prospective agent on the Internet to make sure they are properly licensed and in good standing with the Department of Real Estate and to get some background information and a good feeling about that agent in preparation for Step 3, the face to face interview.
If you are a buyer (or a renter) your interview will be completely different than if you are a seller (or landlord) so for this week’s article we will just take a look at the buyer’s interview. The buyer’s interview will most likely take place in your prospective agent’s real estate office. If they do not have a professional office that does not mean that they are not a great agent, but I can tell you that today’s great agents seldom have clients sign contracts on the hood of their car. Don’t give up on them just yet. They may have a terrific home office or arrange to meet you in an environment where professional business can be conducted (not the local bar!). Wherever you meet, you should feel comfortable with your prospective agent and the surroundings.
The first thing to do is to contact your prospective agent by phone, not email, to set up an appointment. I know that email can be easy and somewhat anonymous, but be brave and pick up the phone and call your prospective agent. The conversation is simple and it goes like this, “Hi, I’m Bruce and I am looking to buy a house in the La Quinta area. You were highly recommended to me by Mr. Smith and I would like to schedule an appointment to come meet you”. Your prospective agent will take over from there and likely first talk about Mr. Smith and then ask you about yourself, what you are looking for, have you been prequalified, and do you know how much you would like to spend. Try to avoid telling the agent your life story at this point, great agents are great listeners and good conversationalists and there will be plenty of time for this later! A great agent will get your basic information and be eager to schedule an appointment to meet you.
Do not show up for your appointment with a list of prepared questions for your prospective agent (this is not speed dating!). A great agent will make you feel comfortable right away and believe it or not they will guide you through the initial face to face interview. You should have a great conversation and you will feel comfortable asking questions as they come to you. At the end of your first meeting you will likely be asked to set your next appointment to actually get started shopping and go see some houses. Before you make that commitment you should feel very comfortable with this agent. From your face to face interview you should know if this agent is professional, experienced, capable… basically all the characteristics we have already discussed, but most importantly, someone that you have confidence in and want to work with for the next few months. If not, don’t make that next appointment and go back to Step 1! Next week we will discuss the seller’s face to face interview.
This week’s real estate tip: If you have not been prequalified by a lender before you contact your prospective agent for a face to face interview you will want to ask them for their recommendation of a lender that they work well with. Make sure you schedule your appointment with your prospective agent after you have been pre-qualified for your financing. It will allow you and your agent to confidently go forward in shopping for your next home!
Bruce Cathcart is the Broker/Co-Owner of La Quinta Palms Realty, “Your Friendly Professionals” and can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit his website at www.laquintapalmsrealty.com