How To Choose A Marin County Realtor

This site is run by two of Marin’s top Real Estate Professionals:  Peter and Karin Narodny who are committed to assisting sellers with selling their homes fast and for the most money possible. Our experience has given us keen insight on how the average person picks their real estate representative and the common mistakes that people make along the way. We understand that it is often easiest to choose a realtor based solely on friend’s recommendation but doing your own research and interviewing multiple agents can save you time, effort and aggravation in the process of selling your home. For personalized home buying advice please contact us.

Below is a recent article published by which we feel gives keen insight into the value of real estate agents and the importance of choosing the one that best fits your needs:

"Real estate has always been a mark of independence and freedom in this country," says Donald R. Brenner, professor emeritus at American University. "Owning property is very important, and when you deal with someone who is going to help you buy or sell a piece of property, you'd better find someone that knows what they're doing.

"If you pick up the phone book and choose from the yellow pages, you won't make a better decision than if you picked up the telephone book to choose a brain surgeon," says Brenner.

Shelley O'Hara, author of 'The Complete Idiot's Guide to Buying & Selling a Home,' says, "When you announce your desire to purchase a house, you may be surprised at the number of real estate people who want to represent you. Agents come out of the woodwork. You won't have to worry too much about finding an agent -- you do need to worry about finding a good one."

Paul Purcell, a partner in Braddock & Purcell, a real estate advocate in New York City, agrees. "Buying a house is the most important financial transaction most people will make in a lifetime."

"The most important thing when either buying or selling a home is to select the right real estate agent, but people usually go about it backwards. They read a newspaper or get one of the home magazines in the supermarkets, and they call about a home they see advertised. They should first select the real estate agent – one who will understand what they need and can navigate the system for them.”

Where to Begin your Agent Search

Ask friends for referrals. Friends can give you a starting point, but don't hire an agent solely on a friend's recommendation, says Brenner. Don't choose an agent based on personality alone, but make sure you can get along well.

Choose the broker or real estate agency first, and then ask the agency to recommend a couple of their best agents. Then stick with her. If you see a house for sale and call the agent listed on the sign, that agent's first concern will be representing the seller, not you, the buyer. "Sometimes the broker is associated with a franchise, such as Century 21," says author O'Hara. "If you select a franchised broker, you have the advantage of national name recognition and usually a strong national advertising campaign." But beware. "You aren't guaranteed a great agent just because you selected a well-known real estate franchise. You should select a firm based on that office's reputation -- not the reputation of the national firm."

Consider choosing an agent who is a Realtor. In addition to being licensed by the state to sell real estate, Realtors belong to the National Association of Realtors and must abide by a strict Code of Ethics. Brenner says, "The National Association of Realtors has a code of ethics that will knock your socks off, and they are very strict in dealing with people who don't abide by them." Also, only Realtors have access to Multiple Listing Services (MLS) through which members share listings and have access to many more properties than non-members.

Choose an agent that handles homes in your price range. Some agents specialize in high-end properties and won't give their best effort on properties under a set value. If they usually deal in fixer-uppers, they won't have the experience to navigate "Millionaire's Row".

Choose an agent who listens to your needs and takes the time to explain things you might not understand. Real estate transactions can be complicated and the terminology confusing. You need an agent who will both know the answers to your questions and takes the time to explain them. "It's extremely important to find an agent whose personality you like," explains Purcell, whose firm helps people find professional, trustworthy agents. "You want them to be bright, professional, trained, and someone who works in the business full-time, but personality is important. You're going to spend a lot of time with this person whether you are buying or selling. If you hate the agent and the agent hates you, you may be too far along in the process to correct it."

Choose an agent who can and will provide other services. Will they help arrange a house inspection, refer you to qualified lending professionals and real estate attorneys, and conduct a study of the property's value?

Interviewing potential agents and brokers

The only way to select an agent that is right for you is to sit down with them and ask them questions.  We have included a brief list of some important questions below:

  • Has the agent been in the real estate business for 10 or more years in the area?
  • How many transactions has the agent had in those years?
  • Does the agent belong to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) and/or a reliable online home buyer’s search service? Multiple Listing Services are cooperative information networks of Realtors that provide descriptions of most of the houses for sale in a particular region.
  • Is real estate their full-time career?
  • What real estate designations does the agent hold?
  • In exchange for your commitment, how will the agent help you accomplish your goals? Show you homes that meet your requirements and provide you with a list of the properties he or she is showing you?
  • Does the realtor have your best interests in mind?
  • Does the realtor take time to thoroughly explain things and listen to you?
  • Does the Realtor specialize in the area?
  • Can the realtor assist you with financing arrangements?
  • Can the realtor provide references in the area?
  • Is there more than one individual I can rely on for help?
  • What reputation does the Realtor and office have in the area?