Only after looking back a few years can I truly appreciate how important it was for us that we had a good real estate agent when moving a few years back.
We moved in 2007. It was a busy year as we were getting married in September. I had a ‘bachelor pad’ condo that I’d purchased that I was going to sell and we were going to buy a house that would be suitable to the family that we wanted to start down the road. We started our search in the early spring.
We used one agent as both the buyer and seller. Pat was the same agent I’d worked with in 1999 to purchase the condo, and had been recommended by a family friend.
Here are some reasons, looking back, why it was important to have a good real estate agent:
- Knows what to do to make a good sale – Pat came to the condo, looked around, and gave a variety of suggestions on things to do that would help a sale. While he didn’t think we needed anything as drastic as house staging, he advised that we re-paint the condo. He told us to re-paint a wall in the basement that had shown signs of damage from a small water leak which had been repaired a few years back. I wanted to replace the rugs, which had been stained, but he advised us not to. We took all of his suggestions and the place looked very presentable.
- Listened to us – Pat took time to listen to what we wanted and didn’t waste our time with too many listings that were outside of our price range or geographical boundaries. When we started looking, he took notes and was able to further refine what he showed us in the future.
- Pre-screened – Pat would pull information on the computer about potential listings. In many cases, if he happened to be in the area, he would stop by before he brought us to the house. This pre-screening along with knowing what we were looking for, allowed him to avoid showing us houses that he knew we wouldn’t be interested in.
- Set expectations - In early 2007, the real estate market was already heading down. After listing the condo, I wasn’t sure what to expect as far as showings. When they were few and far between, Pat made sure to set expectations that this was the market.
- Kept an eye on the market – When another condo in our complex went on sale a couple weeks after mine, Pat jumped on the fact that they had a lower price, and suggested a price drop. In his eyes, having a condo with the same price would encourage visitors looking at the other condo to look at ours, increasing our chances for traffic.
- Kept emotions in check (part 1) – When an offer came in for the condo, I wasn’t prepared for what I saw. I knew the market was softening, but the offer was lower plus the buyer wanted concessions. Pat showed us average prices, which were declining, as well as comparable sells going on now, to make me realize that this was actually a pretty fair offer. Without Pat, I probably would have turned down the offer and watched the value continue to drop.
- Made us believe the impossible – The house we live in was one that we looked on early in the search. We loved it. We ruled it out because it was outside our price range. By a lot. As we continued to look and not find anything we were really happy with, our minds kept going back to it. We talked to Pat and he advised we come in with an offer that was in our price range. It was so low that I believed that the seller would laugh at us. They actually looked at our offer and counter-offered with a price that was in our range.
- Ignored the final offer – The counter-offer that we got was in our range. I was ready to accept it, especially since the seller’s agent had made it clear to Pat that it was their final offer. Pat said, “Let’s do one more counter, five thousand less.” We faxed it off. Less than a day later, the phone rang, it was Pat. They’d accepted. He saved us $5,000 that we would have spent without his hunch.
- Kept emotions in check (part 2) – Because our offer was (what I thought) low, I thought the sellers would continue to market the property and entertain other offers, which was their right to do until we actually closed. Still, we moved forward. One step we had was our home inspection, at which point someone came and looked at the house. We were sure we were going to lose it. Pat was there for all of our calls over the ensuing few days to make sure that we still had it.
- Kept emotions in check (part 3) – We were ready to close. We were going to close on the condo in the morning, take the check from that sale and close on the house in the afternoon. It was perfect. Until it fell apart. The buyer of the condo couldn’t close as the bank delayed closing. We were devastated. Pat kept us in check for the ensuing week, and finally everything went off without a hitch.
- Kept us prepared – At both closings, Pat was there to guide us through the process step by step. Granted, I had bought the condo a few years back so I knew what to expect, but it’s still an overwhelming time. Pat made sure that we were calm the entire time.
It took a long time to really appreciate the value of the agent we had. Looking back, we probably would have made mistakes along the way. We would have responded with emotion rather than reason. We could have impacted the sale of the condo, and missed out on the opportunity of living in the house we currently love. We most likely would have been financially worse off.
Make sure you understand the value of a good real estate agent when buying or selling. You may not truly appreciate the value that they bring until down the road, but if you find a good one, you’ll definitely see the difference in the long run.
What experiences have you had with good (or not so good) agents?