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Business // Thinking Smart
David S. Chang

Choosing A Real Estate Agent

One of the top financial goals people have is purchasing a home. Many people buy a house only once in their lifetime, which is why you want the best representation possible for your needs.

This is the first of three articles to help you make smarter decisions in purchasing your first home, an investment property or looking to upgrade for the future. Choosing a real estate agent is very important in buying or selling your home. Here are some tips in choosing the right agent for you:

* Meet with two to three agents before you commit to one. Locate agents in ads, open houses or a referral from family and friends. Getting a referral from someone you trust is one of the best ways to find an agent. You want to select one who is knowledgeable about the area, is experienced in the negotiation process to get the best price and, most importantly, will go above and beyond their responsibilities. Since you will most likely be spending a lot of time with the agent, make sure you like and feel comfortable with them! Consider looking at agents with different firms, since each firm has its own advantages.

* Ask the right questions. This is essentially an interview for you to choose the best person for the job. Do some research, and ask to see their resume, years of experience, a list of references to call, and number of transactions, especially for the area and price range you are looking at. Ask about the hours they work, if they are solo or part of a team, and how often they will be in touch with you. Bottom line here is that an agent should know the answers to your questions, understand market conditions in the area and will take the time to explain them to you. Look for the agents’ qualifications. Realtors are members of the National Association of Realtors, a organization promoting high standards for real estate professionals.

* If you are selling, ask about a marketing plan. A good agent won’t just use a Multiple Listing Service (MLS) listing, but will have a specific plan to get your home on the market. Request a list of things the agent will do with a target date. Incorporate this into the contract so you can monitor the progress. The average commission is 6 percent for a home, where 3 percent is usually given to the buyer’s agent. You want to make sure the agents are earning their pay!

* Look at other alternatives. Some buyers and sellers like to be a part of the process more.

Some agencies such as “Help-U-Sell” cater to these individuals with flexible fee structures that depend on the level of service the buyers or sellers choose. Maureen Fukumoto from Help-U-Sell here on Oahu states, “We offer fee-based services and flexibility in what a buyer or seller needs. In many cases they can save money on a transaction while still receiving full service.”

Since purchasing a home is an important decision, it is vital to get the best agent to help you make this decision and act in your best interest!

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