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Our neighbors across the street are selling their house. I'm not sure what it is about this house, but nobody ever stays long. Actually, the sellers have probably been there the longest. It seems that whoever moves there gets taken away by a new job within a few years. Seeing the For Sale sign go up in their yard was bittersweet. While we aren't close friends with them, they are good neighbors. Good neighbors are important. So is, as I'm sure they are learning, a good real estate agent.

for sale sign

My One And Only Real Estate Agent

I've owned two different houses in my life. For both of them, I used the same agent. His name was Pat. My condo was a bachelor pad that I purchased in 1999. I sold it in 2007 as we were getting married. Twelve years later, we're still here.

For both buying and selling my condo, as well as buying our house, I was lucky enough to have the same real estate agent. He was referred to me by a family friend. He did great work both on the buying and selling side of things.

If we ever move again, we won't be able to use him, as he's retired. However, his son is in the business, so we'd probably give him the first look.

So how much difference can a realtor actually make? Well, it's my opinion that the answer is ‘quite a bit'. Here are a few reasons using our experiences, that a qualified real estate agent is key.

Know What Buyers Want

Our agent 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.  He said that the new owners would potentially replace them to their own style.

We took all of his suggestions and the place looked very presentable.

They Listen

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.

Customize Your Viewings

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

I sold my condo when the real estate market was declining. Pat was very up front about setting expectations on how many showings I might expect. He also made it clear that I might have to negotiate.

On the flip side, he helped us along on the buyers side to take advantage of these very same things.

Knows 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.

realtor open house

A good realtor will know when and how to setup an open house.

Will Handle Emotions

When an offer came in for the condo, I wasn't prepared for what I saw, even with Pat having prepared me.

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.

Can Make You 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.

Knows All About Bluffing

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 sent 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.

I think Pat would be a great poker player, but I'm not sure he's the gambling type!

Understands The Entire Process

Even when we had our home inspection, there were people coming in to look at our potential home. I was extremely frustrated by this. Pat explained that showings will still take place, but assured us that with a firm buyer, the seller would be very unlikely to back out of our deal. Yes, it was possible, but Pat wasn't worried. He'd been through it before, and had seen this many times. He even said that it could have been someone the seller knew, trying to get an ear on how things were going!

Expect The Unexpected

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.

Organized And Thorough

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 as much as he could.

What Are Your Experiences With Real Estate Agents?

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.  This 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?