Q&A: How to determine real estate broker credentials (column)
June 6, 2017
Laura asks: In your last column you talked about what traits to look for when choosing a real estate broker. Among other things you mentioned were experience, credentials and knowledge of the area. My husband and I need a bigger home for our growing family. How do we determine whether brokers are experienced and knowledgeable enough to really help us? We don't want to rely only on what they tell us.
Unfortunately, there are not as many tools to research a real estate broker as there are for professionals in other fields. That said, start by finding out how long the brokerage firm that holds the realtor's license has been in business. Is it a local or national firm that has been in business in your community for a long time? What kind of reputation does it have? What price range of homes does it usually handle and would yours fall within that range? It is important that they want your listing so that the entire firm will support your Realtor and be on your extended team. Ask friends and business associates about the firm, particularly individuals who have lived in the area for a while. Now let's talk about the agent. All individuals who want to help the public sell residential real estate are required to take an established series of courses, take a test and pass to be a Realtor. You can look up the Realtor on apps.Colorado.gov., and the website will let you know whether his/her license is still active, how long they have been licensed and whether they have had any complaints filed against them. If you like what you see, then check out the listings the broker has to determine how many he/she has and what price range. Talk to the brokers and find out what they will do to sell your home and help you find a new one. Find out how many homes they have sold for each of the last two or three years along with the total dollar amount of the sales. By doing this you can determine how successful they are. Ask for the names and phone numbers for three recent clients, and call them to ask about the broker. Find out what they liked and disliked about the broker and whether they would use him/her again. Do not be reluctant to ask how they met them and decided to use them. Lastly, choose a Realtor that you also like. Chances are that if you do not like him, buyers or other brokers will not like the individual either and it could be harder to close a deal.
James asks: Recently we had a bad experience when dealing with a Realtor. We had identified a house that we wanted to buy, and our real estate broker gave us some bad advice that we followed. Needless to say, we did not get the house and my wife was devastated. The agent adopted a very cavalier attitude about the whole thing, would not take responsibility and disappeared from our radar screen. What are our rights as far as at least getting some satisfaction?
I am sorry to hear that you did not get the house you and your family wanted. It is always so disappointing to have your heart set on a home and your dreams are dashed. Unfortunately, without knowing all the facts regarding what your agent did or said, I cannot even begin to speculate on what recourse you have. I do know, though, that if you have a legitimate grievance, you can file a complaint about the agent at apps.Colorado.gov. Before filing one, first consider whether it may have just been a misunderstanding or there was simply a miscommunication between you and your Realtor. Also, it may have just been an honest mistake. If you haven't already, schedule a meeting with the Realtor and have an honest discussion about what happened and why he advised you as he did. Hopefully you will get a better understanding and learn from the experience and be able to apply that knowledge to your next home search. On the other hand, If your broker is not willing to meet and have an open discussion about it, you will know that changing Realtors might be in your best interest.
Nancy Gardner is a Certified Financial Planner. She and her husband Bill and dog Daisy split their time between Summit County and Montgomery County, Texas. Send your financial questions to email@example.com.