Financial Pathways: How to choose a real estate broker (column)
In my last column, I answered questions and discussed two IRS approved tax strategies for saving money on the sale of real estate. As a follow up, let’s talk about the importance of choosing the right real estate broker to help you sell your property and buy a new one. You might wonder why a certified financial planner would cover this, and the answer is that the difference between choosing the right broker over one with less knowledge or the right skills could mean saving tens of thousands of dollars or more. The impact on your finances could be dramatic. My goal is to help you protect and grow your financial assets.
Some of the attributes I think one should consider are:
Experience: The broker has been one for some time and knows the local real estate market. This is not the time to enlist a friend from another community or one without experience in general.
Full-time broker: The broker is fully committed to his/her career and does not just dabble in real estate to make a little extra income when there is some free time.
Educated: The Realtor has kept up with mandated continuing education and takes extra real estate courses to be as knowledgeable as possible.
Organized: The broker is on top of his/her business. If they are not effectively managing their listings, their marketing strategies and their clients, chances are they will not be able to manage the sale of your property as well as you would like.
Listens: The Realtor pays attention to your goals and desires and is sensitive to your needs and concerns.
I recently worked with Jason Smith, the founder of Colorado Real Estate Summit County located in Dillon. I called him because two people referred me to him saying he was a good broker and that he knew the Keystone market well. I had a condo to sell and had identified a house I wanted to see. After Jason successfully navigated the timely sale of the condo and negotiated the purchase of a single-family home in the neighborhood in which I wanted to be, I talked to him about what five traits he felt brokers should possess. After giving it some thought, he shared the following in no particular order:
Truthful: A broker should always tell his client the truth, even when it may jeopardize a deal or is the exact opposite of what the client wants to hear.
Puts client’s interests first: A broker should not be afraid to walk away from a deal if he thinks it is not in the client’s best interest. As a result, he may not make a sale and receive a commission but the client’s interests are served.
Experience in the neighborhood/complex: It is important the broker not only knows the community but knows the specific neighborhood or condominium complex the client is selling or buying in. A broker needs a keen understanding of the market, but the best brokers also understand every micro-market a well.
Good negotiation skills: A broker with specialized training in negotiations is essential. Filling in the blanks on a contract is the easy part, but getting the other party to agree to the terms is where a good Realtor excels. Your broker’s skills in this area may determine whether or not your sell your property and are able to buy the home you want.
Relationship builder: A successful broker understands the value of relationships. Jason feels that this may be the single most important factor. Relationships only grow and prosper when they are built on trust, integrity and proven results. A good Realtor knows who the players are in every deal and how to effectively communicate, negotiate and navigate towards a successful closing.
Jason provided an insightful list of traits beyond the ones I mentioned. There are many good and dedicated brokers in Summit County, but Jason’s skill sets helped him to navigate a particularly complicated sale and purchase and make it possible for my husband and me to have the home we wanted. When you are ready to make a change, give serious thought to the neighborhood you live in and where you want to live; look for brokers that know them and then narrow it down. Do not be afraid to interview several before choosing one. It is, after all, about your future.
Nancy Gardner is a Certified Financial Planner. She and her husband Bill and their dog Daisy split their time between Summit County and Montgomery County,Texas. Send financial questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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