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Eight Things to Look for in a Real Estate Agent

One of the best predictors of a successful sale or purchase of a home is the team you put together to pull it off. The right real estate agent can make what is typically a trying experience into one that ends well for all parties. By doing your homework and asking the right questions, you’ll know you’ve got the right person for the job.

Is he trustworthy? You want someone who is going to be straight with you. Who’s going to be honest with you about the limitations of a property you look at together. Someone who’s going to tell you you’re being unrealistic about your asking price—respectfully, of course. Who’s going to be direct about any risks or concerns and be prepared to provide guidance about how to mitigate them. You don’t need rainbows and sunshine. You need a forthright person who is going to make sure that you are well-informed throughout the process.

Does she know the landscape? Even in a world accessible via a click of your computer, you want someone who is comfortable locally. Can she talk to you about up-and-coming businesses in the area? Local market trends? How vibrant the community is? How rough a work commute might be?

Is he understanding of military culture? Experience working with the military community is important. Does he know about special considerations that may need to be made to get a VA loan approved? Is he aware that you may be required to act on short notice or may need help revising the terms of a current lease? Can he speak to where other military families choose to live off post? Or what resources are available to service members in the area?

Is she someone who is interested in you (and someone you like, too)? In a good agent-buyer/seller relationship, the numbers should be secondary and will work out to everyone’s benefit if your agent is an advocate for you. Does she understand your unique circumstances? Seem to have a feel for what’s truly most important to you? Is she respectful of you and your time? Does she treat your children/pets/spouse kindly and with courtesy?Personality matters. Warmth and relatability matter. You can argue numbers with anyone, but you can’t get back time that you spend miserable with someone who’s unresponsive or unable to hold a pleasant conversation or who doesn’t seem to care about you.

Is he busy, but not too busy? You want to know he’s experienced in the business and that he’s successfully (and recently) executed sales and purchases. But you also want someone who has time for you. Someone who’s intent on your sale/purchase and not too overextended to give you the attention you need. Someone who cares about you and wants to put you in the best possible situation for your family. What you don’t want is to be just one more client in a full stable of clients.

Is she well-regarded? Part of the beauty of the military community is the sharing of resources and information amongst your “adopted” family. And you live in a community—either in real life or virtually— where folks are selling and buying (or renting) houses far more frequently than the average nonmilitary-connected individual. Who have your military-connected friends used? What have been their experiences? Whom would they recommend? And ask your civilian connections, too. Word of mouth is everything in the real estate business, and you’ll learn quickly who has a great reputation as an agent and who doesn’t.

Is he well-connected? Nobody knows better than a military family how important one’s village is. What does his village look like? What relationships does he have in the community? Can he connect you with title companies? Lenders? Inspectors? Does he have/know folks who will work with him and you to stage your house? Can he help you find a cleaning service or landscaping crew? The bigger your real estate agent’s village, the fewer cold calls you need to make to get done what you need to get done.

What does your gut say? Trust your gut. Even if the agent has sold a lot of houses. Even if her photo is plastered all over town. If it doesn’t feel right, keep looking. If it does feel right—if you feel heard and advocated for—you’re golden. And you will have built a relationship that will still matter to you long after you’ve bought or sold your home.

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