By John Stemlar, Sage Real Estate Advisors
Google “how to choose a Realtor” and your results will be trite, recycled, platitudes (experience, market knowledge, a “go getter,” etc.). The spectrum of competence among Atlanta real estate agents is broad; mediocrity often hides behind name recognition or a non-vetted referral. With so much at stake in buying or selling a home, deciding with whom to place your trust and confidence warrants digging deeper and demanding more. The three A’s – ACCESS, ADVISE and ADVOCACY offer a meaningful framework for evaluating a real estate agent.
Does the Agent Have ACCESS to the Market?
Access to the real estate market is more than MLS membership, the ability to open lock boxes and having the contract forms. Access is about tapping into all the knowledge, information, experience and relationships that are the “real estate market.” Is the agent plugged in?
The real estate marketplace is highly dynamic. Real time property information, as well as understanding submarket supply, demand, velocity and trends are the key to capturing opportunities and avoiding pitfalls. The most valuable market knowledge is often subtle or hidden between the lines of generally available information. Access, of course, also requires an agent to be connected within the real estate community and skilled in working effectively with other agents.
Is the Agent Qualified to ADVISE You?
A real estate license is very easy to get. Merely holding a license does not make an agent a real estate market, finance or contract expert. Nor does it qualify the agent to advise you or negotiate on your behalf such an important financial, legal and lifestyle undertaking as buying or selling a home. Is the agent truly a qualified real estate professional?
Market knowledge, transaction experience and deal savvy are fundamental to providing sound real estate advice. These, along with overall “real estate wisdom” are developed only over many years and dozens of diverse and often challenging transactions. Financial and legal/contract acumen matter; these come from formal education and/or relevant career experience. In choosing a real estate agent, consider the resume behind the license.
Is the Agent and Her Brokerage Your ADVOCATE?
Georgia does not impose a fiduciary duty on real estate brokerages with respect to their clients. The laws permit and encourage profitable conflicts of interest, which are routinely engaged in by brokerages and their agents. The nature of real estate brokerage, including agents’ unique access to information and control of communication, often obfuscates these conflicts. Would the agent and her brokerage be your advocate in all aspects of the relationship? Would they promote and protect your interests ahead of their own? How would you really know?
Competent, professional and ethical real estate representation can only be delivered in the context of a fiduciary relationship – one that is transparent and free from conflicts and self-dealing. Sage is the only full-service Atlanta brokerage that steps up and adopts conflict-free, fiduciary (True Agency) brokerage.