How to Tell if a Real Estate Agent is Worth a Phone Call
Of the Salespersons, both the Pareto Principle and The Law of Averages suggest that about 80% of these agents out there are going to be ho-hum average, 10% will be complete jack ass losers, deserve to be fed to the lions, because they make quite a poor name for themselves, which becomes a name that good agents have to apologize for.
When they do take on new clients, the best agents guard their time-value. They employ many layers in their client qualification screen.Yes, that's right---an agent can tell you to hit the bricks if he or she thinks you are what's called a stroker. If you don't know what I mean, then don't worry---you're not one---I mean if you haven't been told to hit the bricks yet then you're not a stroker. If you have been told to hit the bricks---then, unfortunately, you are a stroker and you should work on that right away. Because there are many business-wise and legally sound methods a real estate broker has in the arsenal for separating the wheat from the chaff. Not needing your business in the slightest way is only one of the more powerful tools. Anyway, if you've been booted once or twice, then you know what I'm talking about---good brokers can be just as picky about theirs clients as clients want to be picky about their housing selection. Pickiness is the pride of excellence.
My office has this going down in what's called an Ex Officio fashion. Every week we somehow manage to generate more than100 inbound new business inquiries for every agent here---every week!! Can you imagine that? And this is just new business leads---then there are our established friends, current and former clients. All told---there's only enough time in the in every week for each agent to host a maximum of 20 appointments. So, it just happens the way it happens. The Pareto Principle applies.
With preparation and readiness and luck, you'll find yourself in an office like mine. And if not, hopefully you won't be dealing with the bottom 10% of the agents in this market--because just as there are some up to no good landlords, so there are up-to-no good agents. The worst ones are few and far between, of course, so odds are on your side there.
Likiest---you will deal with the middle of the pack. These agents are honest, hard working, have integrity and want to do well by you. They are not top shelf salespeople yet. Some of them may get there with time and dedication. Some may just hover where they are for one reason or another. In any case, these agents need your help just as much as you need theirs.
Real Estate agents deal in values day in and day out---Ethos, Value---an equal partnership forges the strongest bonds. So again the odds are in your favor you will emerge from the journey you take with a real estate agent having established a strong partnership with a potentially up-and-coming member of the game. This partnership can become highly valuable with the right prescriptions and good communication
Sharing Information is a Vital Component of Agent-Principal Relationship
The good agent invests all of his non-client hours chasing down the sell side of the market:
- Previewing properties, pouring over listing details
- Studying market history
- Decoding trends
- Admiring his adversary
- Overhearing every conversation
- Befriending every conversationalist
- Data mining the market
All then to know each precious chip and kernel, understand them, value and appreciate them; and then only to place them into the appropriate classification buckets and haul them out of the Data Mine and into the light of day---which, ironically, is swarming with folks who are completely oblivious to the reality of their own market or are aware of it but take an approach that is not quite as specific.
And only after he surfaces from the Mine does he call out to the passers-by---Hey! I Got something Precious for You!! With business cards and advertisements and email letters and brochure mailers and Facebook notifications and even Text Message blasts, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera---Ishmael, I can't tell you the rest because you'd have to be a miner first to understand.
But rest assured, when you meet the Miner after answering an advertisement or making a call off a sign or following advice from a friend who previously has, you are meeting someone who has been down there deep, deep and daily.
The Miner goes down into the Mine so your own mind may be spared and left free to concern itself with whatever you will. A good agent's noggin is swirling and nearly aflame with
- Data and details, large and small
- Rules and restrictions
- A series of features and benefits for particular things
- General domains and area demographics, both past and present and with
- A sure and a solid glance into the future.
Because it is most true that more important than product knowledge, as valuable is that data is, is the ability to bring that data to bear in some palpable way. This ability is achieved only by the agent's system and method he or she uses for engaging you, the client.
System and Method is what you should be on Watch for when Entering the Office of an Agent
My offices past and present teach, train and encourage their agents to approach clientele very much by the same approach doctors use in their approach towards patients. We ask you to sit down and begin a consultation, which is a series of questions concerning the past and present of your housing situation and which then informs a series of concerns that concern your intended future.
We ask the same set of questions of you that we ask everyone. The answers you give in return illuminate the corridors of our mind both of what your current problem is and also what the current solution may be. Our questions isolate both problem and solution from a mental list of hundreds of on-market properties. The isolation brings forward a well-refined and significantly more manageable list of specific properties. After asking only 4-5 questions, this list is usually less than 10 properties.
Next in the System and Method, after Consultation comes Presentation. The first presentation you experience is a type of summation of the consultation period. In this summation we include our understanding of what the problem you are facing is. We then present the subject properties that currently resolve your problem in some way and after that we Discuss how it is they are likely solutions.
Your involvement in this process is constant. At some point of our presentation, our mind illuminates yours in return and there seems to be properties that sound likeable to you. This list is always shorter than five and these are the properties we go out to see in person.
Its not always the case on the first outing, but a significantly high percentage of the time that we conduct ourselves by this procedure you are happy with the results. Usually one sometimes two places on the first list seem to you on the showing to be like home. After some, post-showing "closing time" in which you ask and are answered questions, you make your selection.
This entire process takes less than 2 hours most times. There is no lying, no gimmicks or tricks. Just a fair amount of time invested down in the mines, about 10 minutes of Questions and Answers in Consultation, and just over an hour and a half of Property Showing in which we match the data of the Land Mine to the data of Your Mind. We call it the Consultative Approach.
In other words, you may feel free to judge immediately by appearance and presentation and feel free not to feel badly doing so. Its not necessary for every cat out there to dress like John Gotti. Some can dress like the Franciscan and still be highly effective. Yet however the agent appears to be dressed, ask yourself this: is the agent's appearance working toward a conscious presentation of self? Or does this agent lack consciousness? The answer yields your first useful reading of the agent's overall worthiness.
A good agent is one that is not haphazardly dressed, for even among jean-wearers there is still sharp and sloppy. The sloppy agent's desk is a snapshot of the disarray and confusion that composts his mind. Unorganized piles of paperwork are scattered. Ten thousand Post-it Notes strewn about with little bits of writing here or there. These writings amount to very little deal-making but sell him out all the same. His words are many and circuitous, his approach is not direct. He is negative in demeanor and word choice, speaks in fact as if Defeat is his best friend.
When he meets you, he'll say "Um" in the first sentence. He'll look down a lot and then around as if realizing he forgot to bring something to the first handshake. Most likely he's thinking real hard about keys. Keys he misplaced or will misplace or thinks he will one way or another. Car keys, his own house keys, keys that landlords trusted him with, some of which could become your keys. He may start and stop a sentence abruptly. He'll shake your hand and the return to looking around for those damned keys. He has these problems because he's afraid. He's afraid and has good reason to be---he sucks at his job!
The sloppy agent represents disorder throughout his existence. The floors of this agent's car will be covered by empty McDonald's bags and discarded Styrofoam coffee cups. Maybe loose papers will be crumpled, scattered, and doubling as floor mats. There will probably be a strong cigarette odor. And if you happen to lean over, you'll notice the gas gauge reads nearly empty. If you get this far with a bad agent you'll see these signs along the way. But you should not get this far, unless you want to specifically be an angel to such an agent!!
A good agent is the one who stands up to shake hands with you. One that smiles and is assertive. One with solid eye contact and obvious confidence. This agent is funny and witty and calm and deferential and self-assured. He or she moves with sure deft motions and will quickly seat you at a conference table or area to begin the Consultative Approach. This agent is in control of his entire universe and is worthy of your surrendering control of your universe to him for the span of the next 2 hours.
The manner and tone of an agent's question asking process is crucial sign, as well. If you feel like you are being consulted with, diagnosed as it were, you are in the hands of a good agent. If the agent's questions stop at What's your Price and Where would you like to live? That is to say, if the agent asks only a couple questions and then runs to get some keys----well, first thing you should know about such hastiness is that is bad agent behavior.
Good agents would call this behavior order taking and would call that agent an order taker. Order takers help no one. They do not dig deep into your case history because they aren't truly diggers. Bad agents haven't done their fieldwork, as it were. They don't know what jewels the market holds ready and waiting for you.
The second point to draw from such behavior is that this agent is shooting from the hip and about to waste your time and his. For how could he or she know anything about you or your needs or your needs' resolution by a paltry line of consultation? You don't want a shot from the hip by an order taker. You want a bull-eye, tap dead on center, by a marksman.
So remember this, Ishmael---to find a good real estate agent, you must judge the book by its cover. I always tell my agent trainees that presentation is 9/10s of the sale: Presentation of self as well as presentation of property. Right from the start, apply use presentation as your means for qualifying/disqualifying an agent.
If you sense bad presentation in the advertisement, back out and go to the next ad. If you sense bad presentation in person as you stand in the agent's office, quickly excuse yourself and go onto the next office. Remember, there are hundreds of offices, you do not have to tolerate shoddy business practices anyway. Never tolerate a bottom barrel performance, Ishmael---not from this writer, not from anyone, not no way, not no how!!
This article is From the How To Find An Apartment In Boston series.
Size, Location, Price - The Three Principle Factors That Will Govern Your Apartment Search
Do it Yourself or Get a Real Estate Agent? - Where to Start Looking for Apartment
Super Agent Man or Super Waste of Your Time? - How to Tell if the RE Agent is Worth the Cost of a Phone Call
Real Estate Agent Fees Explained - An Explanation of No Fee, Half Fee and Full Fee Apartment
Looking for an Apartment With Roommates? - Get Your Ducks In a Row
Cats and Dogs and Snakes - Pet Friendly Apartment Searching
What to Do with Your Car - Off Street vs. On Street Parking in Boston
Boston Rental Market Timing - Know when to Start Looking
Preparing for an Appointment - What You Need on the Day of Showing
Upfront Costs and Lease Addenda - Make Sure Your Lease is Kosher