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gets best value

Monitoring agent
gets best value

Romolo Celli of Re/Max Wharton Associates says buyers and sellers should interview at least three agents on an employer-employee basis before entering into an agreement.
“Don’t let fate choose your real estate agent for you,” Celli cautions. “Shop around and be an intelligent, resourceful consumer.”
And even then, after you’re satisfied that you have found the right individual, it is important to recognize some of the signs that indicate whether the agent is giving you good service, or giving you the business. Real estate agents usually are paid from 4 percent to 7 percent of a property’s selling price. Wise buyers or sellers want to be sure they earn it.
The Greater Rochester Association of Realtors Inc. reminds potential home buyers and sellers that not everyone who possesses a real estate license is a Realtor. GRAR points out that Realtors are trained, must meet certain qualifications and adhere to a strict code of ethics.
And even then there are no guarantees of getting your money’s worth. However, real estate experts advise asking questions along the way that help ensure you get the most from your Realtor:
Is my real estate agent giving me accurate information regarding my needs, or simply telling me what I want to hear?
Consider the experience of Joseph Meindl, part owner of American Recycling and Manufacturing Inc. of Rochester.
“Everyone tells you they’re going to sell your house,” he says, “but when it got down to how they were going to do it, they couldn’t do it. The agent I ended up using said, “We’ll have a very difficult time selling your house.”’
Meindl’s agent was correct. The house did not sell and finally was leased, with an option to buy.
“(A seller) often wants to hear that their house is worth a lot more than it is,” says Barbara Grad of the Prudential R.J. Russell Realtors. “A good agent will come in and say, “Look, I know you want this (price) but the reality is, this is what has sold. This is the history of the street, this is the history of the present marketplace.”’
Both Celli and Grad emphasize the importance of hearing the positive and the negative aspects of a particular property.
Does my real estate agent communicate with me in a timely, efficient manner?
“One of the best signs of a good agent is that they listen, and they’re able to discuss with you what they just said,” Grad says.
Celli agrees.
“One of the biggest complaints of people on both the selling side and the buying side is that their real estate agent doesn’t return their phone calls, isn’t responsive to them, and that appointments are subject to the Realtor’s schedule and not your schedule,” he says.
Observe how a prospective agent responds to your requirements during the interview process, Celli advises.
“I suggest that if the agent is not writing down in detail and describing in (the client’s) own words what it is they’re looking for and what they want, they’re probably working with the wrong person.”
Is the agent making the best use of his time, and yours?
The key here, especially for a buyer, is having an agent who listens–not simply hears what the buyer or seller is saying, but one who listens intently.
It is far more efficient for an agent to know exactly what a potential buyer is looking for in terms of size, location and price, and concentrate on homes that meet the criteria.
“It’s up to the broker to try to learn from the buyer what their changing thought pattern is and what direction they want to go,” Celli says. “By asking questions–what did you like about a house, what did you not like–you better understand what the buyer’s thoughts are and what they’re learning.”
Once you have determined the market value of your property, how do you arrive at an asking price?
A good rule of thumb, Celli says, is to not ask more than 5 percent above what you feel you can get for the house.
“Figure out exactly where it’s going to sell at, not where you’d like for it to sell at,” Celli says. “You can’t price it 8 percent above where it’s really going to end up because the market will not respond.”
Remember, he added, “It’s very much a buyer’s market, so sellers need to be smarter about what they’re doing. They need to do some research and have some independent information. Don’t rely upon only what your agent tells you.”
Celli offers buyers a pricing tip.
“You never, ever tell your real estate agent what your bottom line is,” Celli says. “It’s better to tell your agent only what they need to know at the moment. It’s appropriate to discuss negotiation strategy, but price is very personal.”
An example, Celli says, would be a house that is priced at $134,000. The potential buyer has offered $127,000 but tells the agent he or she is willing to go as high as $132,000.
“It’s a question of human nature,” Celli says. “If an agent knows how much you’re willing to pay, human nature is, how can I make the deal, not how can I get the best price.”
Grad cautions against agents who try to persuade you to spend too much money.
“See that they’re not pushing for you to spend the most you can, but rather, the best you can,” she says. “You want to be sure they are considering your total life picture.”
Grad adds: “The agent’s agenda should be your agenda. The agent’s goals should be your goals.”
(Rick Woodson is a Rochester-area free-lance writer.)

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