Real Estate Agent - Tuscaloosa Alabama Market
Real Estate Agent Search -
by Grant Dickey
January 1, 2017, 12:58pm
Tuscaloosa Real Estate Agents...
If you've found your way to this page, you may have already made the decision to work with a real estate agent and understand the pro's and con's of having representation. It could also be that you've never worked with one before and arent sure if that's the best route for you. Either way, I've been there. I wasnt always an agent and I remember when I was trying to decide whether I legitimately needed (or even wanted) help finding a house or if I'd be just as well off going at it alone. I know what you're thinking...I'm not going to turn this in to a sales pitch for all the reasons you should use an real estate agent. I am writing this as if you arent sure what you should look for in an agent, what purpose they serve, and what representation SHOULD look like. Keep in mind that every state and even city has it's own laws and customs, but here are a few guidelines that hold true.
The very first thing you should understand is that YOU, the client, are the number one priority. Your real estate agent has a legal duty to put your needs first, above any other party in the transaction, even their own. It all starts there. If you have an agent that is legitimately putting your needs first, you are going to get good service. You are going to get the better deals. You are going to be put in the best possible position to make a good decision.
During the Home Search
You and your agent are going to have to do a good job communicating and really trust each other during the process. You need to be able to tell your agent what you do and don't want, and set realistic goals. On the flip side, your real estate agent has to be able to professionally communicate to you what is and is not realistic. This seems simple enough but if you're a first time home buyer or are maybe relocating to an area you're unfamiliar with, this can be a hurdle to overcome. A good agent will be able to help you establish realistic expectations for the process. Every market is different and things can change rapidly from year to year within the same market. Get an agent who has experience and understands market trends and has the ability to help you make good decisisions for the area you are interested in. If you do a good job picking an experienced agent, try to listen to their suggestions!!! They do this for a living and most of them have your best interest at heart. The biggest take away here --- Open communication is key. Dont be afraid to tell them your expectations and dont be stubborn when they give you advice.
Your agent should be familiar with the area and market conditions and they should help you do some or all of the searching to put together a list of possible homes. Some clients will want more help than others. My suggestion would be to communicate with your agent if you arent seeing the kind of homes you like. They wont be able to fix a problem if they dont know it exist and this is YOUR home. Dont be afraid to tell them what you like and dont like. At the end of the day, a good agent is going to be proactive, but not pushy. They are should be doing their part to find homes that fit your criteria but also understand their boundaries if you dont like a particular area, home, etc. They should be a resource to you, not a burden.
Negotiating an Offer
Your agent is on your side. Keep that in mind. When you get to the point of making an offer, you have hopefully found a house that is a "good buy". This, in my opinion, is where having a real estate agent really pays off. Experienced agents will know what is common negotiating practice in the area and they are generally going to know the other agents that may be involved in the process. They'll also have a great idea of what a house is objectively worth and they shouldnt be emotionally or financially invested in pushing you to one house over the next. An objective opinion is absolutely critical because it's so easy to get wrapped up in the excitement of the process and pay too much for a home that LOOKS great or possibly pass up on a home that is a great buy, because it doesnt "show" well when you walk in the door. A good agent can recognize what's going on and help you make a more objective decision.
The actual negotiation itself is largely going to be dictated by the sellers and what they can afford to take, the market conditions, and a handful of other conditions that you and your agent may not be able to control. What your agent can help with is understanding what is realistic in the process and helping you get the biggest discount possible on that particular home. Some homes will be willing to come off the list price more than others, for example. An experienced real estate agent is going to better equiped to diagnose how much wiggle room their is and make sure that YOUR goals are understood. They will also help you keep your eye on the prize, so to speak, and not get too high or low during the negotiation. That's critical because the buying process can be very emotional and THAT can cost you a lot of money if you arent aware of it. Keeping emotions in check and expectations realistic can be the difference in thousands of dollars during the negotiation and can ultimately decide if you get the house or not.
How Do You Pick the Right Real Estate Agent?
If you're local, I would suggest asking around and getting opinions and THEN you pick up the phone and interview a few of the names you're given. I think it's critical for you to actually talk to a few of them and really sit down and meet with them. Try to wade through the fluff and sales pitch. Find the one that you feel like is legitimately going to look at for your best interest...not necessarily the one that's the most polished with the slickest sales pitch-- the one that you feel like you can get along with, who is going to give you honest answers (not just what you want to hear), and who is going to lookout for your best interest.
If you're from out of town, I'd also say that client reviews online are a good place to START, but I'd still want to talk to the agents themselves and get a feel for them. There's been more than a few agents to get close friends and relatives to write shining reviews for them. You need someone that is going to work with you and match your style and preferences.
At the end of the day- You are going to spend a significant amount of time with your agent and rely on them to help you make one of the biggest decisions of your life. Spend a little time up-front looking at agents instead of houses and go from there!