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Elizabeth Biberger: Real Estate in Duncan & Cowichan

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Why do buyers not interview agents?

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I have been selling real estate for nearly 31 years, and during that time I have listed and sold countless properties and represented hundreds of buyers.  Fundamentally, the roll of an agent listing a property and the roll of an agent representing a buyer in a purchase are different jobs and require different skill sets. The one thing I have noticed over the years is that most sellers interview agents and choose the one they feel is the right fit for them based upon all sorts of criteria.  Buyers rarely interview an agent which suggests that most buyers assume that all agents have the same skill set or that they do not recognize the value of a great buyer agent. I love both rolls, and I feel very comfortable wearing both hats in a real estate transaction. But I think it is time for buyers to start realizing that not all agents have the same skills when it comes to representing them in the purchase of real estate.  Buyers need to start the process by interviewing agents and not just falling into a relationship.

Over the years I have probably been formerly interviewed by a buyer less than 5 times.  When I say formerly interviewed I mean we met, sat down and they had a prepared list of questions to ask me in terms of how I would handle and negotiate their purchase.  These are important questions, but equally important is to ask and determine if the agent has the skill set to properly inform, investigate and uncover all pertinent details on a property as part of the due diligence required. How do they handle personal absences form the office?  Agents need time off, but do they have someone to cover for them when they are away? Nothing worse than to be told that you will have to wait a few days for your agent to return to view a home.  If you are purchasing a rural property, does your agent have a good working knowledge of wells and septic?  If your agent primarily sells condos in the city, he or she may not have the skills to properly represent you in the purchase of a rural property. Likewise, an agent who works in a rural community may not have the skills to represent you in the purchase of a condo. Don’t assume all agents are created equal.  Perhaps you want to use your friend’s son who just got his license.  Very nice sentiment, but who is providing the oversight to insure you are properly represented in the transaction?  Is the person providing oversight going to go and view the property too?  An experienced agent has an eye for things a new agent is probably not going to note. The learning curve is steep for all agents coming into the business.   I would not personally write an offer on a property I had not viewed. An agent that has had their license for some years may only sell on a part time basis.  Do you really want to entrust such a big purchase to someone who only dabbles in real estate?

My advice to buyers is to do some research.  Talk to friends, family and associates to find a few good agents and then meet with them and conduct your own interview.  Do not leave your next purchase to chance.