Although realtors might specialize in either existing homes, new homes or a particular area of town, across the board, a local expert said experience is a key factor in choosing a realtor.
Experienced realtors can guide home buyers toward a home that fits their needs, said Karen Gehle, CEO of the Kansas Association of Realtors. She said a realtor should return phone calls and understand the needs of a home buyer.
"They have looked at more homes than I have, so I want an agent to help me filter out what homes work for me and what homes won't work for me," Gehle said.
Many agents are more informed about homes in a particular market than throughout the entire community. Integrity, a marketing plan and regular communication are benchmarks of a good realtor.
In addition to experience, Gehle said, a realtor should have their property listings on the Internet for increased exposure.
A seller should look for a realtor who will get their home in market condition. The home should compare with other homes already on the market.
If a home isn't up to par, Gehle said the seller will start the process at a disadvantage.
"I hope they would say 'well, you might need a fresh coat of paint here.' I want them to tell me. If it's a fresh coat of paint or carpet, I hope they would have that experience and share that with me."
On the flip side, someone in the market for a home should choose a realtor who will listen to a prospective buyer's concerns. For a first-time buyer, a realtor should clearly explain the home-buying process.
Gehle said older home buyers, for example, might be in the market for a home without stairs. She said a real estate agent should be willing to search for home with the prospective buyer's specific needs.
The buyer also should be comfortable having a working relationship with the agent.
Referrals from friends, neighbors or co-workers can ease the search for an effective realtor. Agents are familiar with current real estate values, taxes and other costs that could sway a purchase.
Gehle said effective realtors have the tools and information to get a home buyer through a seemingly complicated process.
"I want another pair of trained eyes," Gehle said. "This is the largest purchase I'll make in my lifetime and I might only do it two or three times. I want someone with experience there with me."
Sources for these stories include: Coldwellbanker.com, Moving.com, Federal Citizen Information Center Home Page, Realtor.com, Homestore.com, homebuilder.com, forsalebyowner.com, San Diego Association of Realtors, Monstermoving.com, Interest.com, Century21.com and Amsouth.com.
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