This is part 3 in a series of articles designed to help people who want to buy a home, condo, or loft in downtown Phoenix AZ. At the end of this article we have links to the others in our series designed to help home buyers be more educated and empowered. Without further adieu lets move on to part three. This article will discuss good questions to ask when hiring a real estate agent to help sell or buy a home in Phoenix AZ.
INTERVIEWING AND FINDING A GREAT REAL ESTATE AGENT:
Before we talk about how to find and interview a real estate agent, I am going to get on my little soap box and talk about how Arizona Legislature and Arizona Department of Real Estate has failed you when it comes to licensing new real estate agents.
Did you know a person can get a real estate license without graduating from high school or getting a GED? Did you know it takes less than 100 hours of course work to get a real estate license? Did you know there is no requirement for mentor-ship? The rules in Arizona and most other states are seriously wrong when it comes to educating and licensing real estate agents. I urge you to contact your representative and tell him or her it is time to fix this problem. It should be at least as hard to get a real estate license as it is to get a massage therapists license in AZ. By the way, massage therapists have to have a GED, take about 800 hours of course work and have to have tons of supervised hours to prove their skill and expertise. Shouldn’t a new real estate agent? Call or email your representative now while the news of this outrage is fresh in your mind. Here is a link to a list of Arizona State Representatives.
Thanks for letting me bluster a bit. I’ll try to stay on topic now and provide some thoughts and guidelines about interviewing and hiring a real estate agent to represent you when you buy a home in Phoenix and downtown. Below are bulleted items that may help:
- Hiring A Quality Buyer’s Agent is a Good Idea: In spite of what I’ve said, there are a number of good agents out there. Having your own agent to navigate the waters of home buying makes sense. First, their service is free. The home owner pays their fee. A good agent knows the value of a home, has strong contract law knowledge, is a skilled negotiator and will help you through the entire process.
- Hire A Seasoned Full-Time Agent: Please don’t hire a part-time agent. You really want someone whose full-time job is real estate. Real estate is complex and demands a person’s full attention. In addition, you’ll want an agent who has well over 50 transactions under his or her belt. Skill is achieved with experience, let a new agent practice on someone else, not you.
- Interview Two or More Agents For The Job: We feel it is important you talk with several agents and find one who you get a feeling of trust and connection. We certainly would like to be one of the agents you interview and more important is that you interview several agents and make a decision based on your comfort and feeling of security.
- Check Potential Agents history on the Arizona Department of Real Estate web site. You can look to see if an agent has faced disciplinary charges and their employment history. In addition, the site lists some of the continuing education classes attended. This list may not reflect all class work though.
A Few Questions To Ask During The Interview:
- How long have you been practicing real estate? Ten or more years of full time work is a good sign of longevity and experience. Nearly 90% of new agents do not make it past 2 years. After ten years a full time real estate agent is likely to have good skills and knowledge.
- I would like to have contact information and talk to the Last 5 Closed Transactions You Have Been The Agent for Either Buyer or Seller. Recent client feedback tells you how well the agent is doing his or her job today. If an agent hesitates on this it could be a sign their recent clients aren’t happy campers.
- What level of formal education have you completed? Remember my rant and the fact an agent can be licensed without a high school degree? The skills needed to best serve you include reading and understanding contract language/law, market analysis involving fairly complex math and good to excellent computer skills. In many parts of the world one needs a minimum 2 years of college to get a real estate license… perhaps they know something we should.
- How many short sales and bank owned properties have you worked with in the past year? Since today’s market is filled with bank-owned homes and short sales it is important your agent has strong skills in these kinds of transactions. I would say it takes about 40 hours of continuing education and over 15 transactions with distressed properties to begin to get an understanding. Again, let inexperienced agents practice on someone who has not taken the time to learn like you have. This is a good time to give yourself a pat on the back…yeah team.
- Do you have a web site, Facebook business page, LinkedIn profile? This simply tells you if they have some technical and internet skills. Since 85% of home buyers use the internet to search for homes an agent who understands technology is a good thing. If you are not an internet person, this question many not be important.
- During the interview drop in a few things about a home that are important to you. Just make it part of the conversation. It can be about schools, proximity to light rail, type of floor plan you like, size of yard. Later in the interview ask the agent what he or she remembers about the kind of home you want. This can be very telling; Are they too busy talking to listen and hear you? Bad habits, like not listening, can be frustrating.
- If you are thinking of buying a historic home you’ll probably want to know if the agent has skill and expertise in this area. You can ask them what are some of the most common problems with a historic homes. Among the answers should be foundation issues, galvanized verses copper piping, older electrical services without a ground wire and electric panels undersized for modern use.
- Will you be showing me homes where you also personally represent the home seller? This is a big one in my book. I would never work with an agent who thinks it’s good to try and sell his or her own listings to a buyer they also represent. It is called dual agency and it is a foul thing. The agent benefits because he/she gets a larger commission. However, you loose out because the agent can not offer you full representation, can not fully negotiate the deal to your benefit and has his/her hands tied legally when it come to offering opinion and advice. You want an agent who works 100% for you.
No doubt you can add to this list, yet we believe these questions will give you good insight into the skills and expertise an agent offers a person looking at buying a home, condo or historic home in downtown or Greater Phoenix Arizona. If you have additional ideas, post them as comments below and add to the conversation. Every day is a day we can add to our knowledge base.
OTHER ARTICLES IN OUR SERIES ABOUT BUYING A HOME IN DOWNTOWN AND GREATER PHOENIX ARIZONA
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The Caniglia Group at Realty Executives
7600 N. 16th Street, Suite 100
Phoenix, AZ 85020