How do you choose a Realtor (Real Estate Broker) in Chicago whether you are looking to buy or sell? What should you look for?
Real estate brokerages would love you to believe that it is difficult to become a Realtor. I’ve been in the business for 7 years and I can easily tell you, based on the experiences I have had with other agents, that almost anyone can enter this business. Whenever the barrier to entry is low, no matter what the field is, you are bound to attract…..idiots. The fact remains that many people in the real estate business, should NOT be in the real estate business. A Real estate broker is helping you with the purchase or the sale of one of your largest assets, if not THE largest asset you will own. So what should you look for when choosing an agent? How do you pick out the idiots from the heard so you know to avoid them?
An agent that Shuts Up:
An agent should not try to talk your ear off right away. Instead, they should shut up and listen to you. They should listen to your needs and your wants. They should ask you questions and just as important; they should know what questions to ask you. Your agent should not be there to SELL you, instead, they should be there to advise you (and sell your home if that is what you hired them to do).
An agent that is all-knowing:
Surely, an agent can’t know everything and any agent that says they do is a load of crap. What I mean by “all-knowing” is that your agent should UNDERSTAND all aspects of the business. They need to understand how mortgages work, from application through the underwriting process. They should understand the basics of real estate law and contract law. They should understand basic accounting so they can help you evaluate the financials of a condominium association. They do not need to be experts in these fields, but they need basic knowledge in all these fields.
In each transaction it is my job to act as a facilitator. I am here to make sure the attorney is doing things properly, to make sure the mortgage broker is doing things properly, to make sure the condo association is turning over the proper paperwork to my client, and to make sure the agent on the other side of the transaction is doing things properly. Your agent is likely not an attorney nor a mortgage broker, but they should strive to learn as much as they can about these topics. They need to be your advocate throughout the entire transaction.
Knowledge of the market
Real estate is extremely localized and in Chicago there are neighborhoods, within neighborhoods which influence everything from pricing to schools to the overall “feel” of the neighborhood. Your agent needs to know these neighborhoods like the back of their hand. If they don’t, then they should not be working in that neighborhood. They should be able to give you at least rough pricing off the top of their head. While specific pricing may require your agent to look up comparable sales; your agent should be able to at least give you a price range for sale or if you’re a buyer tell you if something is over priced off the top of their head. If they cannot, then they do not know the market well enough.
Not a side job
Your agent cannot be part time. I am sorry, but these agents just piss me off. Helping someone with such a large purchase or sale is NOT a part time gig. If you had $100,000 to invest would you go to a “part time” financial adviser? If you were sick would you go to a “part time” medical doctor? No you wouldn’t, so don’t go to a part time agent.
Your agent needs to be on time
Your agent needs to be on time. If your agent is constantly late, they don’t respect your time. But more importantly, if they can’t manage their time how can they manage anything else? Precision and details are important in this business. If you are buying a home for $500,000 do you want your agent to do things with precision?
An agent that discounts themselves
There was a trend a while back, which is thankfully going away, where agents would greatly discount commissions and kickback large amounts of their commissions to buyers. I will not name the services in this blog, but instead, all I will say is you get what you pay for. The most successful and knowledgeable agents in Chicago do not need to discount their services. Would you trust a doctor that advertised a $25 physical exam? I’m thinking not so much. Same is true with the real estate profession. By the same token, however, hold your agent to high standards. Understand that they are getting paid to represent you and you should expect nothing but the absolute best from your agent.