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Contributor
moneypenny02
Posts: 45
Registered: ‎10-18-2012

Choosing a realtor

I am in the very early stages of buying a home.  I probably won't be able to make real moves until March, but I would like to get a better sense of what is realistic for us, given our financial situation, financing options and current market.  I've done a lot of reading online, read some books for first time homebuyers and have tried to do my homework, but there are so many moving parts, I would really love to have a realtor that I can ask questions to sooner rather than later.  

 

We are pretty specific in what we are looking for -- duplex or triplex, with at least one unit that has 3 bedrooms (or 2 bed + office) and 1.75+ bath, in los angeles, in an area near decent public elementary schools, in any of about 10 neighborhoods in LA that are relatively convenient to work and family.

 

 I don't have any great leads on realtors.  There is a somewhat distant family member who actually seems to work with multifamilies in one of the areas that we are looking at, but I am not too inclined to go with him (he is distant enough for me to not be certain he would be working in our best interest and close enough for it to cause drama if we have issues with each other)  There are a number of people at my job (not friends, just coworkers) that have purchased a home in one or another area we are looking at, so I could also potentially reach out to them to find out if they have references. 

 

 I have seen a few places listed on Redfin (and elsewhere) that are real possibilities (if they stayed on the market) and the same Redfin realtor is associated with them on this site.  She has really good reviews, but no personal connection or reference.   I was also considering reaching out to her.  

 

I know this a Redfin board, but to the extent you have unbiased advice about what you think is the best way to go about choosing a realtor, I would be very happy to get your insight on what I should do for my next steps.

Redfin Market Manager
MarkBennett
Posts: 33
Registered: ‎11-07-2008

Re: Choosing a realtor

@moneypenny02,

 

We actually talk about this subject in our Home Buying Classes. We recognize that not everyone will select a Redfin agent, so we suggest that you follow these tips when vetting the person you will work with:

 

Is this your full-time job? Someone with their finger on the pulse of the market full-time is a greater resource for you during your purchase.
Familiar with foreclosures or short-sales? At this point in the market, most agents have this kind of experience (it's hard to avoid), but if you're considering a short sale or an REO it's worth asking how many they've worked on.
Where were your last five deals? Anyone can provide referrals of someone who liked them, sometimes getting feedback from the last five is more telling.
Who else will be working with me? Don't be afraid of an agent who works as a team, just try to get a sense of how available your agent will be for you.
Will you show me all properties for sale? Some agents will try to sell you their own listings or listings from their brokerage. Using sites like Redfin can put you in the driver's seat by providing you all your options, not just the ones that benefit the agent most.
When am I committed to working with you? This is good to know...and isn't simply answered. Clearly, if an agent asks you to sign some sort of buyer-broker agreement you should make very sure that you are ready to work with that agent. In the absence of such an agreement, sometimes it is the amount of work that the agent has done for you that determines whether they are entitled to a commission if you purchase a home. Just be mindful of both scenarios
Has a client ever filed a complaint? This is a tough one to find out unless you use a company like Redfin, and some others, who post the reviews of their clients...just make sure they're posting all the reviews not just the good ones.
How are you paid? Most agents are paid by their broker once the broker receives the commission check from escrow. So, any time they close a transaction they receive a predetermined percentage of the total commission. At Redfin, we pay our agents a base salary and they can earn bonuses based on customer satisfaction, happy clients equals more money for them.
 
Hope this helps,
Mark
 
Mark Bennett | Los Angeles Market Manager | CA Broker
mark.bennett@redfin.com | 562.206.2761
Contributor
moneypenny02
Posts: 45
Registered: ‎10-18-2012
0

Re: Choosing a realtor

Thank you for your reply! 

 

I have also read various books that mentioned some of these same considerations in choosing a realtor, so glad to have those considerations reinforced!  

 

I think what I was (inartfully) trying to get at, was the relative importance of having a personal connection to your realtor rather than pulling someone off of the internet who sounds good, but you have no personal referral for.   That is something that I noticed consistently being recommended, and I just wouldn't have that with any Redfin realtor, so I was looking for insight on that question. 

 

I did end up emailing the Redfin woman who seemed like a good possibility, but she still hasn't gotten back to me, so that isn't a good sign! (Which is particularly surprising given how many of the reviews commended her on being so prompt with her responses.)

Super Contributor
inspector_guy
Posts: 316
Registered: ‎01-02-2010

Re: Choosing a realtor

As a recent home buyer and inspector, communication is extremely important. Though I like the Redfin model, there were times that coordination suffered because too many people were involved. Look at Yelp reviews and speak to affiliates (lenders, title reps, inspectors, appraisers, escrow officers) about their experiences.

Visitor
mtgentry
Posts: 1
Registered: ‎01-13-2013
0

Re: Choosing a realtor

http://homelight.com is an interesting startup that wants to address this problem. They pull in stats from the MLS and then sort agents based on your search criteria. 

Redfin Agent
julie-j
Posts: 423
Registered: ‎05-20-2010
0

Re: Choosing a realtor

Hi sorry you haven't had a reply yet, please let me know if I can assist you being in touch with her. 

 

As far as having a pesonal connection - you will get to know your agent thru at least 1 home tour together, plus they are available to you as you work with Associate Agents on more tours via phone/email, thru the offer writing process, and last thru the escrow.  As you can see from the online reviews from other buyers, people do seem to end up forming a repoire with their agent (and their Redfin team) thru the process which is typically several months working together.  Hope that helps?  Good luck on your search.

Julie Jacobson l Associate Agent l Los Angeles
See my team's deals & reviews

Contributor
Excellence
Posts: 45
Registered: ‎04-17-2012
0

Re: Choosing a realtor

If you can get a referral from a trusted friend or business associate, these types of referrals usually work out well. If not, it is important that the agent have some experience, understand the local market (the one you want to buy in) and has the type of personality you will be able to work with for months to come. Most home buying takes 4-6 months, so that part is very important.

Interview three and pick one.

Visitor
TrustMortgage
Posts: 2
Registered: ‎01-19-2013
0

Re: Choosing a realtor

All you need to is make sure the Realtor you will choose will have some experience in your location. Also you want this person to have some knowledge of the market so he/she will not sell you a property for the wrong price in the wrong location.

Ask friends and consult people at work.

Best of luck.

Yanni Raz
Visitor
MastermindGroup
Posts: 8
Registered: ‎02-18-2013
0

Re: Choosing a realtor

Consider these factors:

 

1) You want an agent who has your best interest and not just their own commission.

2) You want an agent who is active and knowledgeable about your target search markets.

3) You want an agent who is patient and willing to answer any/all questions, especially important as a new buyer.

 

Ask probing questions, interview them well, get references. If you don't think you can get along with him/her, skip to the next one.

 

But remember, be reasonable and treat realtors with respect. Once you've found the one you're comfortable with your home search, let them guide you through the process and have the proper trust in him/her, after all you should have picked the right one to begin with, so trust the professionals to do their job.

 

Using Redfin's agents with good reviews/ratings is a fantastic start! As you get pre-qualified for a loan, you can also find a good agent through your local bank's lending department; they can often recommend a good one for you. 

 

Good luck and congratulations on your path to homeownership!

Platinum Super Contributor
Nanomug
Posts: 10,337
Registered: ‎05-30-2009

Re: Choosing a realtor

First remember that you can change your agent if it doesn't work out for you.  Don't sign any buyer agent contracts.  Sometimes it takes meeting a few agents and test driving them to find a good fit.

 

The best realtor for you is the one who meets your needs and who you feel comfortable with. Communication and the ability to listen are important skills for me in a realtor along with their job skills. We make it a policy to not do business with agents we've met outside home buying/selling. 

 

In our 2009 relocation we had an agent from the relo company who was located 3 towns over and had worked in our preferred area. He seemed a bit slow to to respond to us and listing agents weren't returning his calls.  While it was common for out of area listing agents to be a black hole we were concerned thal local agents didn't return calls.  Then there was a REO listing with an out of area realtor whose broker I knew.   Another offer into the black hole.  I was able to follow up and learned that our offer wasn't submitted prior to the deadline given which was odd as we signed the offer the day it was listed.  In the end the relo company was fired and our first two offers with the new agent were accepted.