How We Found Our Realtor

by Kevin on October 2, 2008

This week I am writing about the process of us buying our first home. We bought our home one year ago in September of 2007. I hope you will find some gems that help you in your next home purchase. Yesterday I told you how we picked a loan officer. Today, I’m sharing how we found our realtor.

As you might expect, a realtor is pretty important In the home buying process. This is even more true for first time home buyers. The process of finding a realtor isn’t well defined either, making things all the more confusing for regular folks like you and I.

With the housing boom — and bust — things got even worse because everyone and their brother (and mother, and best friend, and…) got their real estate license. And why wouldn’t you, when houses were selling like hot cakes and prices continued to go up?

We wanted to find a solid realtor. We weren’t interested in rookies that had no experience or knowledge of our market.

Ask Around

Much like with our search for a loan officer/mortgage company, we asked for referrals from friends and co-workers. We settled on two different teams: two sisters that worked together and a courtesy call to our dentist’s son.

The dentist’s son

When I called this guy he sounded professional enough on the phone. He asked me what areas we were looking in and at what price range. He said he would pull up some comparables (“comps” — similar homes that had sold for similar amounts in those areas) and get them to me.

A few days later he shows up at my office. I can’t give a proper description of just how unprofessional he looked, but I’ll try. For starters, he reeked of smoke. Reeked of it. As in standing five feet away from him moving in to shake his hand I mentally went “Woah, buddy!”… simply atrocious.

Second, his shirt looked like it had been balled up on the floor of his apartment and left unironed for weeks. I can understand if you have a bit of a wrinkle in your shirt. I’m not perfect at ironing, so I can live with that. His shirt was literally one big wrinkle.

His hair wasn’t clean cut, quite shaggy, and also looked unprofessional. He handed me a thick stack of comparables in black and white, and told me to give him a call if I was interested. I shook my head as I walked back to my desk and dropped the stack of comps into the trash. Essentially all he had done was go online, and pull up houses with those criteria. That was it. I could have done that. He provided no additional value to us on top of his unprofessional appearance. Needless to say he didn’t get a call back (and he never followed up with me, either).

The sister team

After that rather depressing experience, we called this team of two sisters. They had helped someone in my office buy their first two homes. I had to leave a voicemail initially, but one of them called me back almost instantly. Impressive thus far…

She had unfortunate news for me. One of the sisters either just had a baby or was about to have a baby, and the other one felt like she was stretched to the limit with her current clients. That is, she was so busy with helping other people buy and sell homes that she felt she couldn’t give us the proper attention.

This was not good news, but I was definitely impressed with her honesty. Her honesty about the situation made me want to use her as a realtor even more — agh!

She gave me a recommendation of an associate of hers that worked for the same realty company.

The referral

Long story short, the referral turned out to be great. He had left the education industry a few years back and had several years under his belt. Being an older guy, he was mature and communicated well. The first time we met with him, he handed us a folder of all the information we would need to know about working with a realtor including the contract for us to sign that would make him our realtor. He wasn’t pushy and said if we wanted to take it home and read it, then fax it over, that would be fine.

We did just that and later in the week faxed over the agreement. It was time to start looking for homes. I’ll walk you through the beginning of our search tomorrow morning. (Do you find these real estate posts interesting? Subscribe via RSS so you don’t miss any updates.)

I’d love to hear your experience with finding a realtor. Did you interview anyone, or just go with a friend? Did you have someone who was very experienced, or completely new to the industry? How did it turn out?

{ 2 comments }

philip October 2, 2008 at 3:17 pm

I looked online for realtors then went with a realtor that had helped my sister and that they knew from church. He had been in the industry for a while and knew what he was doing. It turned out the house I purchased was outside of his standard work. First off it was in the suburbs and he worked the downtown usually. Also he usually worked $500,000 to million plus homes; mine was nowhere near any of those values.

However I did ALOT of work on my own to find what I wanted and knew what was available. He did provide more insight and information on how I needed to proceed.

I also went VERY fast track on purchasing the house. It was vacant and ready for move in when I first viewed it and I was moved into the house less than 3 weeks later, completely done with the process. Both a good realtor and good mortgage company led to this happening. Everyone that I have spoken with seems to take months to close and move into a house so this does seem to be a true feat.

Kevin October 3, 2008 at 9:12 pm

@Philip: Wow — 3 weeks is incredible! It helps if it is already vacant. Ours ended up being a lot longer than that… more on that later.

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