Realtor®-Client relationship more critical now than ever

By KRISTI BAILEY

During these chaotic times, the single most crucial thing anyone planning to buy or sell real estate can do is to partner with the right REALTOR®.  

Media outlets are flooded with reports of sellers pulling their listings and buyers backing off until some clarity about the pandemic and its effect on the economy surface.  At the same time, aggressive buyers have stepped up their game because fewer buyers mean less competition in a marketplace where inventory is at record lows. At the same time, prices are increasing while mortgage lenders are tightening their qualifications for buyers.

The conditions are taxing even for seasoned real estate professionals.

Even before the pandemic, RELATOR®-client relationships had evolved into something closer to a partnership. This progression makes sense because it is more personal – and in many ways, more complicated – than other business relationships. That is why it is essential to shop and find an agent who is a good match for your needs. 

Some people make a list of questions then interview several agents to compare how individuals respond to the same questions. Others employ the time-tested process of getting recommendations from friends or relatives. Keep in mind the possibility that the agent who worked with your parents when they scaled down for retirement may not be the best choice if you are trading up. 

Bankrate.com recently offered some advice to buyers and sellers that included the standard items and a few new ones that are a sign of the time. For example:

  • Have your candidates explain the tools they have in place to help you buy and sell while some people are “sheltering in place” and how many aspects (like inspections) have changed.

You should also pay attention to REALTOR® designations and certifications. They are like badges of real estate expertise.

There are more than 20 professional designations and certifications recognized by the National Association of REALTORS®.  Many agents have several of them. They usually listed on the agent’s business card. You can get a list and explanation of what each means at the NAR website under designations and certifications.  

Communication is also a consideration. Do you want updates by email or a text?  Do you want to sit back and have your REALTOR® guide you through the process? Or are you going to be a hands-on client? These are considerations that should be part of your vetting.

 A significant part of the relationship will also be how candid you are with your REALTOR®.  For buyers, it is a good idea to strengthen the relationship with an understanding you will not be shopping with other agents by signing a buyer’s agency agreement. When you think about it, that is fair. A buyer’s agent invests significant effort without a guaranteed fee since they are paid by the seller when the deal closes.  Buyers who commit to an exclusivity arrangement, by signing a contract, are taking the high road.  But if things are not going well, don’t hesitate to sit down with your REALTOR® for a heart-to-heart. More often than not, misunderstandings or differences can be overcome by good communication.

It is different for sellers.  They have a listing agreement, so their relationship is contractually connected for the beginning of the relationship.  In many ways, that make the process of finding an agent who matches your expectations and style even more critical.  Sellers should not be timid about their expectations and committed to taking the advice of their REALTOR®.

REALTORS® and their client will spend a lot of time together before a deal is completed. There will be hitches. Things can and will go wrong.  Expect some extra stress. Choosing the right agent will take the edge off the process and make it easier and more successful for everyone involved.

NETAR is the voice for real estate in Northeast Tennessee is the largest trade association in Northeast Tennessee. It represents over 1,300 members and 100 affiliates involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries. Pending sales, monthly Trends Reports, and the regional market analytics are available on the NETAR website at https://netar.us/voice-real-estate-northeast-tennessee.

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Kristi Bailey

2020 NETAR President

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