GIMME SHELTER- Choosing a realtor? Do your homework first

Jim Duncan, Century 21 Manley,

Q: We're thinking of buying a house, but we have no idea how to choose a realtor. Can you help?

A: When choosing representation for what will most likely be the largest investment most people will make, due diligence is required. What is a Realtor? A Realtor is a member of the National Association of Realtors; most importantly, that Realtor subscribes to the NAR Code of Ethics which can be best summarized from the Code itself: "In the interpretation of this obligation, Realtors can take no safer guide than that which has been handed down through the centuries, embodied in the Golden Rule, 'Whatsoever ye would that others should do to you, do ye even so to them.'"  

The Charlottesville area remains a small enough market where one's reputation can easily be discovered.

The most simple and best way to choose representation is via a personal referral from a friend or colleague. Not only has your friend already vetted this Realtor, the Realtor will feel obligated to provide even greater service. With the advent of the recent housing boom, you or one of your friends most assuredly knows at least one Realtor. Buying or selling real estate, particularly for the first-time home-buyer, can be a daunting and intimidating task. Whether you're a first-timer or a savvy buyer/seller, the transaction can be stressful and time-consuming. Your Realtor must be willing to guide you through the practical and emotional obstacles, whether it be making a counter offer or dealing with a wife's tears in the face a difficult search. 

If you have not received a referral from a friend or colleague, interview at least two Realtors– competition is a good thing and keeps us all on our toes. Ask for references– whether you choose to check them is not as important as the fact that they're provided. Complacent representation should not be tolerated. 

Ask questions– lots of questions– about her time in the business, her production level, the number of clients she carries at a time, the ratio of buyers to sellers with whom she works. Assess whether she values and respects your time (and hers)– is she punctual? Does she present herself in a professional manner? Is she knowledgeable about not just the overall real estate market, but emerging trends and the trends in your specific market? 

Does she implement technology effectively? If you use email as your primary form of communication, can she accommodate that? If you do not use email and prefer the phone, is she responsive?

Do you feel comfortable with this person? Do you trust him to represent you and your family's best interests above all else? Does he or she hold similar values– integrity, candor, dedication (assuming those are important to you)? More applicable from the buyer's standpoint is whether you want to spend a lot of time together looking at houses, riding in the car for hours, talking on the phone– sounds a bit like dating, no?

Do your homework. There are over 1,200 Realtors in the CharlAlbemarle area.

Jim Duncan