There’s no substitute for partnering with the right Realtor®

The single most important thing anyone planning to buy or sell real estate this year can do is to partner with the right REALTOR®.  All the signs point to a market that will be a little slower than last year. We are in a sellers’ market, but the inventory of homes for sales is at an all-time low.

Finding the right professional is critical because a typical mortgage involves an investment of over six-figures and can be binding for decades.  Look at it this way. If you had a major health issue, would you get the best specialists at the best hospital, or would you rely on what you find on the web for a self-diagnoses and self-treatment?  Real estate is no different – especially in a market like the one we are expecting this year.

Today’s REALTOR®-client relationship has evolved into something closer to a partnership, so vetting is important. This reasoning behind this idea is it is more personal – and in many ways more complicated – than any other business relationship. Today’s housing market moves at a faster pace with increasingly complicated transactions. That’s why it is important to find an agent who’s a good match. 

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. But keep in mind the reality 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 in today’s fast-paced market. 

Look for a professional who values education and stays apprised of the most effective methods for assisting you with your real estate needs. There are more than 20 professional designations and certifications recognized by the National Association of REALTORS®.  Many agents have several of them. You can get a list and explanation of what each means at  

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? Make sure you and your REALTOR® partner are on the same page about this critical part of the relationship.

A significant part of the relationship will also be how candid you are with your REALTOR®.  This openness is especially true for buyers.  It is a good idea to strengthen the relationship with a commitment that you will not be shopping with other agents. That is only fair. A buyer’s agent invests significant effort without a guaranteed payday since the seller pays them when the deal closes.  Expect your REALTOR® to ask you to sign an Exclusive Buyers Representation Agreement to show your mutual commitment. This agreement entitles you to the fiduciary duties outlined to protect your interests as their client. Buyers who commit to an exclusivity arrangement are taking the high road.  But if things are not going well, do not hesitate to sit down with your REALTOR® for a heart-to-heart. More often than not, good communication can overcome misunderstandings or differences.

As for sellers, you have a listing agreement before the sign is posted, and the lockbox is secured.  In many ways, that make the process of finding an agent who matches your expectations and style even more important. Sellers should not be timid about their expectations but realistic. Be committed to taking the advice of your REALTOR®. Choose an agent who keeps up with market trends and can advise you on pricing, marketing, and even more importantly, these days, has a process for dealing with multiple offers.

In many cases, a client and their REALTOR® will spend a lot of time together before a deal closes. 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 concerned.

NETAR is the voice for real estate in Northeast Tennessee. It’s the largest trade association in Northeast Tennessee, Southwest Virginia region representing 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

NETAR is the voice for real estate in Northeast Tennessee. It is the largest trade association in the Northeast Tennessee, Southwest Virginia region, representing over 1,600+ members and 100+ business partners involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries. Weekly market reports and information for both consumers and members are available on the NETAR website at