Looking for the right real estate agent is a lot like dating, except that finding the right match can be more rewarding. There are many things to take into consideration before you develop a property partnership (Are you looking to trade in your big home for a smaller one? Are you buying your first home and need a step-by-step sales sensei?). Before you start getting down to business, you need to know what to look for.
“I try to have the same approach for first-time buyers and repeat buyers,” says Coldwell Banker Preferred agent Angelica Riley. “The home search process, contracts and forms are constantly changing and I believe everyone needs to be educated and approached the same way.”
So how do you make sure you’re ready to make informed, educated decisions about your future home? Here are the questions you should be asking yourself — and your potential agent — before taking the dive with the help of a Coldwell Banker Preferred real estate agent.
What does your perfect home look like and where is it located?
“Depending on whether I am working with a buyer or seller, the questions will vary,” says Coldwell Banker Preferred agent Linda Alexandroff. She says, for buyers, it’s important to know your location and housing preference. Think about what amenities you can — and can’t — live without. Are you looking to, or have you just recently, expanded as a family? Take into consideration how the members of your household will grow and how your home can grow along with them.
What’s your price range?
Alexandroff says this is the most important thing buyers should decide on before coming to an agent, and that sellers should be asking themselves a variation of this question. Deciding whether or not you’re willing to price your home to sell is a tough task. “Sellers need to be honest with themselves about how their home compares to other recent sales in the neighborhood,” says Coldwell Banker Preferred agent Pamela Cloud. “Work with an agent to determine what the home will appraise for and price as close to that number as possible.” By working with an agent and considering the concrete facts, you will be better equipped to take your emotions out of the equation.
Have you been pre-approved for a mortgage — or, if you’re selling, how much have you paid off?
Some people come to us and think we can decide for them,” says Riley. Not quite the case. Talk to your mortgage lender before you reach out to an agent. If you have a pre-approval handy, your real estate professional can have a clear understanding of your actual budget and help guide you in the right direction in terms of what you can afford.
When are you (really) ready to move?
Riley says buyers and sellers should be prepared to move within two to three months of kicking off a working relationship with an agent. “Inventory is low, so the buyers need to be ready to make a move when their dream home in on the market,” she says. Additionally, sellers should be ready for that same exchange. Cloud says a typical sale takes about 45 days to close. She advises her clients to remove anything they’re not taking with them or using for staging before the house goes on the market, because the time you have to clean house can fly by. Moving is a process, Coldwell Banker Preferred agent Nikita Roman says. “Having all of your ducks in a row from the get-go is going to make the process that much easier.”
Meet with your agent over coffee.
To help build a rapport and a partnership, it’s important to know that your agent’s dreams align with yours. Roman says setting the proper expectations is critical in the home preparation and home selling process.
Alexandroff likes to meet potential clients at a coffee shop. “It gives me a chance to treat them to a drink and set the stage that this is a business transaction,” she says. “People typically feel comfortable in this situation and will open up if you let them talk.” It’s at this phase that she’ll try to understand a client’s motivation, their expectations, financial situation and, of course, the type of home they’re looking for.
Lastly, why did they get into this business?
“I am a people person. I love meeting people and helping them achieve their dream of homeownership,” Alexandroff says. “It’s personally gratifying to be able to hand over the keys to their new home. I treat it as a celebration.” If your agent loves what they do, it will show throughout your relationship together. You want someone who’s just as passionate about finding you a new home as you are.
“It’s simple, I enjoy helping others,” Roman says. “The gratitude I get is by far my favorite part.”
For more insider information on how you can get started on your home search in the Philadelphia area visit, Coldwell Banker Preferred online at coldwellbankerhomes.com/philadelphia.