ASK A REALTOR - Choosing the Right Agent

Hope this article finds you and your families safe and well. As most of you already know, Real Estate is now “on pause” per Governor Cuomo for the duration of this health crisis. Our offices are closed, no showings, no meetings, no open houses. While we’re all waiting to jump back into the market, it might be a good time to contemplate who you’re going to be jumping back into the market with. So many times, an association with a realtor is random - you’ve walked into an office or an open house, responded to a listing online, saw a For Sale sign in your neighborhood, etc. and just started working with the person who answered the phone or was physically present. The truth is you may want to shop around for someone who has your best interests at heart. A home purchase, for the majority of buyers, is the single largest purchase you will ever make, which means that a lot of time and money is at risk.

Whether you are buying or selling – here are some general tips:

  1. Seek referrals from other homeowners – referrals are the single most reliable source to find out first-hand what someone’s experience has been with a particular real estate agent.

  2. Though it’s important to have experience – you also want an agent who has enough time to be responsive and listen to your needs. Sometimes the newest agents have an extra dose of time and motivation along with training and backup from their company as they are getting started.

  3. Go with your instincts – a hunch, a thought, a sixth sense – the realtor/customer relationship just feels right. When you feel comfortable and confident, there is a sense of trust in the person you’ll be working with.

  4. Don’t just settle. Set up interviews with 2 or 3 agents - this gives you another perspective on who you might want to work with and what type of communicator they are.

  5. Choose someone who will answer your questions – and if they don’t know the answer – will find out for you.

Additional notes for Sellers: Remember that the sales contract is not between you and the agent - it is between you and the company. A strong company with a proven track record in the industry can be just as important as the agent. Ask about current technologies and the marketing strategy that will be used to make your home stand out online. Make sure the agent is willing to provide current market data that is relevant to your house and is familiar with the neighborhood. Use websites and other online resources to see how other homes are being represented. Never sign on the dotted line unless all your questions are answered. The goal is to sell your house for the highest price the market will allow at any point in time. Beware of agents who are willing to list your home at a higher than market price just to secure your listing. Also, you need an agent who can keep up with and adjust to changing market trends.

Additional notes for Buyers: Remember that you are the buyer, so an agent focused on your needs and goals is a necessity. You should never feel pressured into making a buying decision by an agent. Their role is to be objective, give you information and conduct business in a reliable and trustworthy manner. If you are a 1st time homebuyer, be aware that all agents are required to explain and then have you sign a New York State Agency Disclosure form when they meet with you. Others also use Buyer Contracts - which should be fully explained before you sign and are not required by law. The agent should be committed to finding you the right property – not a quick sale.

Here is another consideration - there is a distinction between a Real Estate Agent and a REALTOR. The REALTOR symbol is placed on the licensee’s card to indicate that they are part of an association that holds them to a higher ethical standard. When in doubt – look for a square box that has a black background and a white capital letter “R” inside it. This is an agent who is publicly stating their commitment to honesty and integrity.

So along with looking at all those house listings that are currently paused, be sure you look up the agents as well to see who might be the right one for you. Please feel free to contact me with all your questions, concerns and topics you would like to see covered in future Pawling Record columns.

Judith “Judy” Albert is a Licensed Real Estate Salesperson for Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Hudson Valley Properties in Pawling. Licensed in NY & CT, SRES, Relocation Certified Email your questions to

Call 845-855-8500 Ext. 301 or 845-283-7865

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