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  • Choosing the right agent for you; questions you should be asking

    Friday, February 2, 2024   /   by Amy Brown

    Choosing the right agent for you; questions you should be asking

    In the Asheville area there is no shortage of real estate agents. We have over 3000 agents in our MLS. But did you know...that only 10% of those agents are doing 80% of the business? That's right!

    Even though you may be tempted to use someone that you know, that may not be the right choice when it comes to a transaction of such magnitude. You want the agent with the best negotiation skills, excellent marketing practices, broad knowledge base, and a proven track record of success. 

    So what questions should you ask to find the agent that is going to be the right fit for you?

    1. How many transactions did you close last year?

    The majority of agents are only working part-time or do not have the business practices in place to manage a transaction of this magnitude. Those agents are only doing 0-5 transactions per year. You want someone that is familiar with the contracts, process, and strategies necessary to get you the best price and optimum terms that suit your needs. Top agents are closing over 20 transactions per year so make sure that you ask what their number is. 

    I personally close over 35 transactions per year and my firm closes over 50 consistently.

    2. What type of marketing strategies do you employ?

    When selling your home you need more than just to list in the MLS. While that gets your home exposed to real estate brokers in the LOCAL market and gets you a syndication on Zillow, Trulia, and Realtor.com, it does not expose your home to buyers that are looking from other states unless they specifically are looking for your house! 

    You need a firm and an agent that has experience and the budget for creating national advertisements using tools such as google adwords, video ads, YouTube, and social media; especially since the majority of buyers that are looking in Asheville are from other states such as California, Michigan, Florida, and New York. If your home is not seen...it won't get sold.

    Also, ask them to show you examples of their work such as listing photography and videography. A showing is initiated by the photos and a video increases the showing appointments even more. Some agents that either may not have a marketing budget or just don't realize the importance of visual imagery will take their own photos on their cell phone. This significantly drops the interest in that property if not shown well and correctly, regardless of how nice the home is. 

    You only have 7 days on market to make a strong first impression in the buyer's marketplace. Make sure that you home is shown professionally and in the best light possible. After 7 days, the homes falls off of the realtor "hot sheet" (a list of the newest and freshest homes to come on the market) and the likelihood of obtaining appointments drops off drastically.

    3. How long have you worked in this market?

    In real estate, location is everything. Finding a nice home for you is fine but if it's in the wrong location such as on the border of a transitioning area or near a major highway, then that purchase may not be a wise investment and you always need to think of resale. Asheville has a ton of areas with a wide range of aesthetics and access to things like daily conveniences and availability of services. If you need fiberoptic internet for work from home capability for example, you would not want to purchase off of Hwy. 9 in Black Mountain as satellite internet is your only option for service out there. Or if you want to short term rent your home in the summer months, then you won't want to purchase inside of the city limits as the law does not permit that. This is all crucial information that an agent that has lived in this area and witnessed the county evolve would be familiar with. An agent that has recently relocated here might not know the nuances. So ask how long your agent has been here. I have been here for 48 years.

    4. What tools do you use to find the right home that fits my needs?

    Any agent can set you up on automated search parameters and leave it at that but there are many properties out there that need to either be jumped upon right away due to the competitive nature of the market or off market properties that may not be in the MLS but are a great fit for you. You need an agent that has knowledge and contacts in the community, diligence to search for the right home multiple times per day, and the time to commit to those practices in order to find your perfect home the moment that it comes on the market and get that showing scheduled for you. If that agent is working another job in addition to doing real estate, they won't have the time to commit to your search and you may be missing out on the right home when it surfaces.

    5. Do you have a database of trusted vendors that you recommend and regularly work with?

    This is especially important during due diligence. If you need a plumber, carpenter, electrician, or landscaper, you want to know that your agent has subcontractors that they have a relationship with and know the quality of their work. Repairs sometimes need to be scheduled in a hurry in order to close on time and agents with relationships in the community are able to get that work completed sooner, well, and at a better price.

    6. What type of sales does the agent have the most experience with?

    Residential homes sales, land, and new construction homes all have different contracts and a different process. If you are looking for a new construction build then you will want to use an agent that has experience in that niche. Each type of sale can be tricky so if the agent that you have chosen has never sold land for instance, then you will want to interview a land specialist who knows surveyors, how to look for land markers, is familiar with the steep slope and ridgeline ordinances, and knows the process for obtaining a perk test and how long that timeframe is so that they can write the contract up accordingly. If you desire a new construction home, especially if it is in the proposed stage of the project, you will want to work with an agent that has experience with the design process so that you can work with the builder to tweak floor plans, pick out fixtures, add features, and compile a working budget sheet so that you can stay within your price point. They also need to know the rules about the NC builder's warranty, what that includes, and how to make a claim. 

    Picking out the right agent for the type of property that you are pursuing is highly important and can either result in success or a highly frustrating and disappointing experience.

    7. What is your preferred communication style?

    This is extremely important and should definitely be talked about before committing to an agent. Are you someone that prefers talking on the phone over text? Or maybe you have a very busy day schedule and can only answer questions during the evenings? You need an agent that is available during the same hours that you are and that communicates in the style that makes you most comfortable. Let the agent know that you are more of a text communicator than a phone call person or that you prefer email if that is your favorite method. 

    In addition to communication, you will want your agent to match your energy level. Are you ready to buy right now or are you just casually looking? If you are ready to purchase now you will want your agent to be actively sending you homes daily but if you are still in the planning and looking stage or maybe you have a home that you need to sell first, then maybe you only want to receive the latest listings once or twice a week. Nobody wants to be bombarded by incessant communication when they aren't ready and no one wants to be ignored when they are. So discuss what your timeframe is and how eager you are with that agent and make sure that they have the time to work with you on your urgency level.

    Choosing the right agent for you is one of the most important decisions that you can make. Aligning yourself with someone who has the right experience, knowledge, and time while communicating your expectations will make the homebuying or selling process much less frustrating and will eliminate a lot of the stress. You should be able to rely on your agent to competently handle your needs for you in the same manner that you would yourself. After all, they are your representing you in one of the biggest purchases that you will ever make!