How Transferees Pick a REALTOR
by Bill Koelzer
Used to be you had to actually travel to the place where you were going to relocate, then look for homes there in person, typically with the help of a Realtor® you more or less got stuck with by walking into some local real estate office.
Now, however, the web makes it possible to not only hunt online for homes you like before you move, but to even select a Realtor, compatible with you, to help you make your final at-location choice.
How can you choose a Realtor you've never met? Well, one way is to look at and compare the web sites of ones who serve your new city. You can find many by entering these key words into any search engine: cityname statename Realtor.
Here are several questions to ask yourself: Does that Realtor's site mostly talk about them, their sales awards and the many courses they've taken to earn the many acronyms they've listed after their name? Or does it instead focus on your needs, providing extensive area info, hints, tips, tools and resources that you can use? What is in the site that will help you right now, today, in your home quest; not in promises about later?
Is there a headline that tells you why you should stay within that Realtor's site and what the site and Realtor can do for you? Features like: ("Search for homes from here;" "Get community and school info," etc. Does the Realtor "specialize?" in some field of value to you, i.e. The "horse property Realtor," the "Buyer's Web Realtor," the "Relocation specialist," the "Beach property specialist."
Does the Realtor's site have "personality?" Do you feel welcome upon first seeing the home page? Is it open with lots of white space logically framing distinct sections? Or do you feel cramped, confronted with stacks of hard-looking buttons on a page broken up into tiny impinging frames manipulated by scroll bars that make you have to "figure out" your next step?
Entering a Realtor's website should be like entering his home. If his website makes you feel welcome, he likely cares about you and wants to serve you. If his website looks cold, hard, mechanical and distant, he (or she) may be that way, too.
In these early days of real estate web marketing, some Realtors built a web site just because their competing Realtors have one. Plus, many non-web-savvy Realtors pay a design firm to make a web site for them from cookie-cutter templates. (That's why you see many similar Realtor sites.) But afterward the Realtor pays little attention to it. So another way to help select a Realtor is to see which one answers your e-mail query first, and with useful information that either answers exactly what you asked or poses further questions that show that the Realtor understands your query and wants more data to help you further.
Once you choose your Realtor, work this way with him. Search for homes in his area on the many sites that let you search a city's Multiple Listing Service (MLS). Write down the MLS numbers of homes you like. Then, e-mail these to the Realtor and ask him to evaluate each home compared to some original parameters you've given to him and e-mail the summaries to you. (The Realtor has access to more local home info than you will online.)
This process may repeat itself many times. But with each round, both you and the remote Realtor become more familiar with exactly what you want and can afford in the new location.
Eventually, as move time nears, you'll have to look at homes in the new city in person, and when you do, you and the Realtor will seem like old friends, having worked together for weeks or months. And because you did, the Realtor now shows you only appropriate homes.
After you choose a home and enter escrow on it at your new location, your Realtor can then communicate with you by e-mail and fax for escrow details. You work as a team. All because you learned here how to select the best Realtor for you in your new city!
Realty Times' Advice On Finding An Agent
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