I’m positive you know someone in real estate.
You have at least one friend, former classmate, or distant cousin who fills their Facebook wall with new listings and price reductions.
You have — of course — followed this column for a couple of months now, so you know how important a pre-approval is. You have that letter in hand and you’re ready to go. It’s time to call your friend in real estate and start looking, right? Wrong; it’s time to do a little homework to ensure you and said real estate friend are a good fit.
As of July 25, the Tahoe/Sierra Board of Realtors, which serves the North Lake Tahoe and Truckee regions, listed 789 active real estate agents. Meaning, you have a vast selection of agents to hire for the job of purchasing or selling your home. You can’t be blamed for wondering how in the world you are supposed to choose just one of those 789.
I’ve compiled some tips to help navigate the astounding number of options and make sure you’re headed in the right direction.
STEP ONE: Ensure your agent is able to keep up with trending technology
To successfully represent you in the purchase or sale of your home, your agent should be confident in navigating today’s highly technological world. If your direct agent isn’t well-versed, ideally they have someone on their team who can assist in guiding you through the channels.
We are living in a society where social media is highly prevalent, regardless of whether we like it or not. If you’re selling your home, your agent should be advertising the listing on social media channels. If you’re purchasing a home, your agent should be following other agents’ pages for “coming soon” or “pocket listings” that haven’t hit the MLS (Multiple Listing Service) yet.
Send an email to the top three agents you have in mind. Then see how long it takes to get a response, and how well they respond. This will give you a feel for the agent before you even speak with them.
STEP TWO: Ensure your agent is local
How can your realtor represent you on a property in Truckee/Tahoe if they’re living in San Francisco? Sure, if licensed in California, an agent is able to do business anywhere in the state. But does that mean they should?
You want an agent who lives locally: Someone who can meet you the day you call and know the property you’re talking about without having to look it up first; an agent whose full-time career is real estate.
You want that agent to know what the neighboring house sold for last fall, or that there are plans to build on the property behind you — which will dramatically affect the peaceful, natural landscape you might see in the photos.
In my opinion, having an out-of-area agent list a property in the Truckee/Tahoe region is a disservice to the seller and to buyers attempting to purchase the property.
STEP THREE: Communication
This is, by far, the most crucial step.
Life is extremely busy, and coordinating a time that works for both the client and agents can at times be complicated. Most buyers and sellers have full-time 9-to-5 jobs, so that their time to work on real estate is after these hours.
You want to find an agent that is flexible and willing to meet with you during off-hours. If your agent is on a strict 9-to-5 schedule, it may be hard to work with that particular agent. Depending on your availability, you may need the agent who answers their phone at 7 p.m., or is awake answering emails at 6 a.m.
STEP FOUR: Ensure you LIKE your agent
The agent you choose should be honest, trustworthy, and someone you generally enjoy being around.
As a buyer or seller, it’s important to understand that you and your agent will be spending massive amounts of time together over the next few months. The process of buying or selling a home can take 30 days, it can take 90, or it can take a year. Your communication may not always be in person, but hours spent over the phone, text, or email will add up quickly.
At the end of the day, a purchase or sale of a home is only a transaction, but to me, it’s also about creating a relationship. One where the buyer or seller has instilled enough trust into their agent to navigate them through what likely will be the biggest purchase of their life. I’m not only honored when a client chooses me to represent them, but I have a moral obligation to fight for them.
Many people avoid putting effort into finding the right agent because someone they know or love may be in the business, but it’s vital to do your research before signing up with an agent.