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2018 was an interesting year for the real estate market with a roaring beginning, a more volatile middle, and a late conclusion that looks like it is tipping in favor of buyers. Previously, with red-hot markets across the country, abnormally low interest rates, and low inventory, sellers were in a phenomenal position to make a profit. As the tussle between buyer and seller begins to equalize in 2019, the complex considerations of rising interest rates, varying markets, and slower sales will make navigating transactions trickier.

For these reasons and others, we are seeing a continuing shift toward employing a realtor for both buying and selling. Engaging a professional to help you navigate uncertain waters is a wise move, and it is a move that is backed up by some compelling data.

Consider these statistics from HousingWire:

  • 91% of Millennials and 94% of GenXers will use a realtor for either buying or selling this year
  • You’re more likely to use a realtor if you have a college degree, at 94% of the population versus 83% of the population without a degree
  • 98% of individuals whose income exceeds $75,000 will use a realtor

Given these numbers, we want to provide you with a few tips to make your real estate experience as positive and headache-free as possible in working with an agent. Here are five we’d love for you to consider:

Don’t call listing agents about a house you are interested in if you have a buying agent

This is a faux pas in the buying process that is surprisingly common, as The Balance points out. If you have entered into an agreement with a buying agent, you have recruited this person to be your representative in buying a property, and that includes contacting listing agents regarding intriguing opportunities. In contacting a listing agent directly, you essentially step around the representative you yourself set up and will likely ruffle the feathers of both agents. If there’s a property you are desperate to see and you want to get on the horn immediately, by all means, contact your buying agent and let them know you mean business. They will be motivated to get you in the door.

Realize that being a buying agent is a tough gig

While being a listing agent is a bit like being the emcee or bouncer for a party everyone wants to come to, being a buying agent is often a far more thankless task. Buyers are typically tougher to please and may look at home after home for months without showing any sign of readiness to make a commitment. Since an agent doesn’t make any money until the sale closes, they steadily watch the chances of being able to make a living in helping you decline. Be sensitive to this, and don’t set up a relationship until you are truly ready. When you do, make sure you do your due diligence in self-educating so that your expectations are both realistic and within your means.

Set expectations about communication

One of the simplest things you can do is to communicate with your listing or buying agent often and to set the expectation for what kind of communication you prefer and they prefer. If you feel comfortable doing this when interviewing agents, inquire about their typical modes of communication—if you are on the same wavelength, it will make the process that much easier. As Dwell Real Estate in Sarasota, FL emphasizes, encourage them to be upfront with you about various opportunities, even if they think they might disappoint you a little. You would much rather hear their unvarnished opinion at the time than find out later.

Trust your agent to negotiate

Some sellers or buyers enlist the help of an agent whom they like only to question their tactics and judgment at the critical point of negotiating the sale. While being honest with your agent about what you are comfortable with is critical (and, if they are good at what they do, they should be taking a pounding from you on this), at some point it is vital to let go and simply let them be the professional. If you have signed an agent about whom you have heard great things and who has impressed you so far, resist the urge to micromanage them and see what they do. You never have to sign on the dotted line until you are completely comfortable, and they just may surprise you with something that exceeds your hopes!

Make sure your agent has bought and sold in your area

The most powerful recommendation for a realtor is the positive feedback from others you know about them, so when you find an agent your friends or family rave about, it is natural to pay attention. Make sure, though, that if you are inclined to do business with the agent, that they have familiarity with the neighborhood you are targeting and the area, says US News and World Report. They may be a rockstar in other parts of town, but if they have less familiarity in the area you know you want to end up, it may or may not turn out as well as you’d like. So give preference to an agent who you feel really knows your region!

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