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What you should expect from your real estate agent

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This article is brought to you by RE/MAX Prestige of Idaho Falls, which is dedicated to helping you find the home of your dreams, or helping you sell your home to move on to other goals. Click here to learn more.

Buying or selling a home may be the biggest transaction of your life, so it’s important you take the time to find the right real estate agent. Here are eight things to consider:

1. Honesty and transparency

You want someone on your side who delivers all pertinent information to you accurately and swiftly. Honesty is perhaps the most important attribute when seeking out an agent. Your agent should be transparent about the documents you are signing, especially documents that pertain to representation. Choose an agent who has a proven track record and can supply you with referrals from other customers.

Ask before signing: Can you explain what I am signing? Do you have some referrals from previous clients?

2. Frequent communication

There are certainly times during a real estate transaction where you are simply waiting for title work, lending instructions, inspections and appraisals. A great real estate agent stays in contact with you, keeping you updated with important information about your home. If you are finding that you are the one constantly reaching out to your agent, maybe it’s time to have a talk.

Ask before signing: How often will I hear from you during this transaction? Will I receive important updates about inspections, appraisals, funding, etc.? Also, discuss your preferred method of communication – text, email or phone call.

3. Options (inspectors, lenders, title companies, warranty companies)

Some decisions must be made during your real estate purchase or sale. Which title company should I use? What options do I have as a first-time homebuyer? Which inspector will be the most comprehensive? Is there a house cleaner that is better than others?

As a consumer, you want options. Your agent should present you with several options of vendors for each category.

4. Technology options – e-sign, apps for viewing homes

Although some buyers and sellers prefer actual papers to sign, the majority love the option of electronic delivery and signing. The real estate industry has made impressive advancements in technology that allow customers to read and sign from their phones, laptops and tablets. This technology saves time, paper and travel and allows customers to sign from just about anywhere.

Ask before signing: Does your office use technology that allows me to sign online?

5. Knowledge of the ENTIRE transaction – One main advocate for communication

Nothing is more frustrating as a buyer or seller than to be bounced from person to person during a transaction. Having to explain your situation again and again to new people in a brokerage can be time consuming and annoying. Although some brokerages create a group or “team” to work on one transaction, others prefer to have one dedicated agent per transaction. Decide which structure you prefer and ask some questions before signing.

Ask before signing: How many people from your brokerage will I be in communication with during this transaction?

6. Availability

When you call your agent with an important update or question, it is important your agent answers, or at least return the phone call or text promptly. In some situations, one hour can make the difference between your offer being accepted or rejected. It is vital your agent be accessible to you and other agents, answering calls, emails and texts quickly.

Ask before signing: What is the best way to contact you? Do you answer faster to texting, calling, emailing? What is the longest timeframe I should expect a response?

7. Strong negotiation skills

You hired an agent to help you buy a home. You want the best deal you can receive, and it is your agent’s responsibility to negotiate on your behalf. Although some properties are priced at bottom dollar, it is up to your real estate agent to determine if you are getting the best deal you can. On the opposite spectrum, your listing agent’s job is to deliver the highest proceeds possible from your listing.

Ask before signing: Do you think this price is negotiable on this home? Do you think I can get more than this for my home? Have you researched market data?

8. Communication after the deal

You’ve closed on your home and some time has passed. Sometimes life can throw surprises your way. Situations such as missing keys or not being sure how to get accounts set up can arise. Connie Clawson, owner of RE/MAX Prestige, asks, “How likely are you to call your agent after the deal if you run into problems? How likely are you to recommend this person to your best friend or your mom?”

Follow up after the closing is important, and a great agent will do just that.

Ask before signing: If I have questions after closing, is it OK to reach out to you?