Let’s cut to the chase–buying a home or investment property is a massive undertaking and there are numerous points throughout the process where you need to rely upon an expert for guidance.

Or not.

With recent changes to the commission structure, many Buyer’s will choose—either from choice or lack of understanding–to go it alone. I’d like to share a personal story.

Here’s what I regret about my first purchase….

When I bought my first house on my own as a single Mom, a three family property on the West End of Providence, I didn’t actually understand why it was a major mistake to work through the agent who was representing the Seller. In fact, it wasn’t until five years later as a licensed Realtor when I decided to sell that property, that I realized I had made several costly mistakes:

  1. At the time that I purchased the property it was not a strong seller’s market and I should have been able to negotiate a better price. But since I did not work with an agent who was representing me there was no one suggesting a better price. We did not even try–that would have been working against the Seller’s interest.
  2. There were items that came up during the inspection that the seller should have addressed or offered a credit. Again, I had leverage as a Buyer–with no back up buyers in place–but did not understand that since I did not have my own agent there wasn’t anyone to educate me and advocate for me. When I became the seller there were several inspection items that I had to deal with.
  3. I didn’t look at any other properties and there were other properties that were available at that time that likely would have been a better investment. This property didn’t have parking, the units were very small, and the rent and future equity potential were therefore limited. I understood that the math worked (the rental income of 2 units covered the property expenses) but I did not consider–because I was not educated–other factors. No one helped me to weigh the pros and cons.
  4. The lender that I worked with was terrible. I did not have access to industry pro’s that had been vetted because I did not have my own agent.

What do you look for if you decide that you want to make sure that you want an agent to represent your interests? I’ve broken it down into what I would consider the most important. Think of these as the headings for questions you use to interview agents–and you should not have to dig for these questions, any agent worth interviewing is going to be able to quickly and easily provide you with this information: WITHOUT YOU HAVING TO ASK! And I think that’s a key to look for—-if the agent knows how to articulate their unique value by addressing these questions BEFORE you even have to ask, you can bet that they will also anticipate the questions that you have along the buying process and have the systems in place to support your journey.

Experience + reputation + transparency + guidance + a personalized marketing campaign is the winning formula.

Your agent should be able to quickly articulate these five factors to you in a Buyer’s Consultation that you schedule. So actually let’s call it 6 because the first is that they schedule an in person or online buyer’s consultation with you that should take at least an hour to conduct. Period. I’m going to go through these quickly, consider this an outline of how I recommend you approach this extraordinary life event that you’re about to undertake!

👉Experience: how long have they been in the industry, are they full time or part time, review their past sales (ask for a map with all of their past sales). The average agent sells 4-6 homes annually and works as a solo agent. This may sound harsh, but in my opinion, an agent who hasn’t been in the business for longer than at least five years and/or doesn’t have the skill set to be able to support their livelihood by working in real estate full time is not going to have the resources, time, and ability to successfully guide you through the process. Pro Tip==> you can search for any agent on Zillow (here is my profile page) and see their past sales. 

👉 Reputation: review online reviews but also ask for situations in which their reputation impacted a buyer (I can name numerous situations where my Buyer’s offer was accepted bc of my reputation–Rhode Island is small and who you work with matters). I have focused more on Google Reviews—search for an agents name on Google and make the time to read the reviews. (I would share the link but it is better if you search organically).

👉 Transparency: now more than ever Buyer’s and Seller’s Agents need to explain not only the process for their clients but also the various points of the transaction that will cost money—including how Buyer’s Agents are compensated. There are three main types of relationships an agent can serve. You need to understand the difference so that you can decide what makes the most sense for you. Starting July 2024 agents will be required to have their buyer clients sign an Exclusive Buyer Representation Agreement. If you work with someone that doesn’t have you sign an agreement it’s a major red flag. I have been using Buyer Agreements since January. If a Buyer Client is not interested in signing an agreement with me then I am not the right agent for that person.

👉 Guidance: your agent should have specific organizational and educational systems in place that will ensure your transaction is smooth throughout the process.  I have several unique systems in place to help educate my Buyer clients. I have spent literally hundreds of hours on systems, tools, videos, etc to ensure that my clients are informed to make decisions. These systems are not “canned” or generic. I also have a Transaction Coordinator (TC) as well as an additional full time assistant. I also have a team of 7 agents (and growing) in Rhode Island that are highly trained and specialized to work with Buyer clients.

👉 Marketing: your agent should be able to articulate the specific marketing plan that they will create for you to go beyond MLS listings and search for a property that will meet your needs. This includes door knocking, cold calling, etc. We have a 12 Step plan for our buyers. I do not get paid until after a Buyer client has closed on a house and yet I have marketing dollars that I designate for each client that is tailored to their specific search. 

Want to know more about my process and how I can help? Let’s schedule a meeting to chat! Reach out!