In Victoria, there are well over 1,000 REALTORS®. So how do you choose one? Their ads often look alike. We make similar claims. But what makes one different from another?
A 2005 CREA survey of more than 8,000 Canadians identified 14 attributes of a good (effective) REALTOR®. I have listed the results of the survey just below the next paragraph.
OK. So how do you choose a GREAT one? Well, there are two ways you could approach it.
One way would be to interview several and rate them with the following considerations in mind. the other way of course is to simply ask a friend, family member, or co-worker for a referral to a REALTOR®they know and trust.
Chances are, the Realtor they refer you to will display each of the following characteristics. For more info on REALTORS® that work by Referral, click here .
Many of the complaints about REALTORS® were based on a perceived lack of knowledge. A recurring recommendation from consumers was to develop expertise on two levels. The first was to become an expert about an area or neighborhood, and the second was for REALTORS® to broaden their understanding about homes or dwellings in general.
2. Specific market knowledge.
The market knowledge includes insight into the neighborhood and helpful “connections” such as renovation companies or landscapers. Consumers most satisfied with their REALTOR® reported receiving tips on renovations and aid in making connections to contractors, landscapers, mortgage brokers and cleaning services. The least satisfied reported feeling somewhat cheated in terms of improving their understanding of their new environment.
3. Good listener.
Consumers identified this as the attribute REALTORS® are missing the most. Focus group participants described listening as “reading between the lines” and asking questions to ensure that what was heard is what was intended. Many of the consumer complaints were based on miscommunication and underlined the importance of this attribute to the relationship.
4. Good negotiator.
Negotiating is one thing consumers still do not feel comfortable doing on their own. Consumers said the Internet allowed them to research locations and neighborhoods but they still felt they needed a REALTOR® to get them the best deal.
Buying or selling can be an emotional experience, and consumers want someone who will give them the time to adapt. In both the buying and selling situation, consumers grapple with conflicting feelings and experience second thoughts. The perceived pressure to settle on a location or finalize a deal characterizes many consumers' description of real estate transactions. It is described as an extreme negative.
One of the attributes consumers said was “highly prized” in a REALTOR® was "an attention to details". At a time when vendors or buyers are trying to work through all the aspects of a sale or purchase, a good REALTOR® makes sure all of the small and large issues get the proper attention and nothing falls through the cracks.
The consumer knows their ideas and specifications may change as they go through the buying process, and they want a professional who can adapt to those changes. Consumers said they did not want to have to argue with their REALTOR® to “change directions”.
Given the magnitude of the real estate transaction, consumers wanted to be assured that, beyond listening, a REALTOR® was responding in a timely manner. Some complained that they initiated the calls and the REALTOR® arranged viewings or suggested areas only when prompted. Consumers get insulted when a REALTOR® doesn’t return a phone call or an email. There is the perception REALTORS® will not respond to emails, but especially for the age group that includes many first-time buyers (21-34), email is now usually the primary communication technology of choice.
In hot markets, sellers want to make sure that their properties stand out. In slower markets, they want to know that everything is being done to emphasize the advantages of their property. Consumers described a “good” or effective REALTOR® as one working hard to promote a property or alternatively, pouring over listings to find a suitable property to buy. They were described as “having done their homework”.
Consumers feel an effective REALTOR® is connected throughout the real estate world and could bring clients to homes before they hit the market. Agood REALTOR® is one with connections in a range of related fields like house financing, repairs and renovations, landscaping, paving, etc.
One of the most desired qualities consumers said they look for in a REALTOR® was trustworthiness. The definition of trustworthy was very dependent on the individual consumer. Some thought they would trust someone to a degree if they were recommended by a good friend or an acquaintance. Thereafter, trust would have to be earned through routine things like showing them homes that demonstrated they had listened (or, in making a real sales effort when showing the vendor's home). Trust was described alternatively as being a feeling that they either had or did not have after talking to a perspective REALTOR® or "a chemistry". It was also described as being reaffirmed or developed through actions like promptness, politeness and follow-through. Buyers and sellers felt they could trust a REALTOR® if they perceived they were getting a balanced view. No house is ideal and all have imperfections. The more balanced a REALTOR® was in their presentation and comments, the more trustworthy they were perceived to be. The less anxious and less pressured the sales pitch for either a purchase or a listng, the more trustworthy the REALTOR® appeared to be.
Buyers and sellers wanted to know that their REALTOR® had a passion for the business that translated into an interest that extended beyond a defined work week. They described a good agent as someone who enjoyed their work and therefore could be counted on to be looking out for their clients 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The distinction between helpful and intrusive was made perfectly clear by many consumers. Helpful involved providing useful insight when appropriate. Intrusive involved providing endless insights and smothering the client.
Conflicting with the view that expertise was important was the consumer interest in having people who had not achieved a level of success associated with complacency. This attitude was generally associated with people who had been in the business for awhile and had managed to establish themselves. There were also questions raised about how "hungry" a REALTOR® is when the team approach is used. Consumers described it as frustrating to sign a listing agreement with a REALTOR®, only to end up working with a "team member" and never being able to talk to the REALTOR®.