There is plenty of good advice out there about how to select a real estate agent. But I think these checklists often leave out a really crucial evaluative piece…which I call “The Coffee Test.”
The checklists often suggest seeking referrals from friends/relatives/co-workers, which I think is a fabulous idea. So then you want to know that this agent really knows what s/he is doing, so ask for some info on the market, and make sure the agent can explain the data in a way that makes sense to you. But what about The Coffee?
If you’re a seller, the agent should certainly be able to provide you with very specific suggestions about how to set up and present your house to buyers so that it makes the most favorable impression, aiming to boost the speed of your sale and the selling price of your home. And the agent should have really clear data to help you determine the asking price. And a marketing plan that will help make things happen. But what about The Coffee?
If you’re a buyer, the agent should definitely be willing to take the time you need to help you find the Right House. And help you understand the relative pricing in different neighborhoods. And give you ideas about where you might have the best shot of finding the home that most closely matches your wish list…at a price that feels comfortable to you. But what about The Coffee?
And as either a buyer or seller, you want to be sure that the agent has the negotiating skills to help you achieve the outcome you want. Sometimes it’s tips about how to prevail as a buyer when the home you want has received multiple offers and you are in a “bidding war.” Sometimes, as a seller, it’s about effectively negotiating the occupancy date so you don’t have to move your kids twice. Sometimes it’s about figuring out who pays for the repair of the roof that was found to be faulty during inspection. You need your agent to be able to help you get these things done! But what about The Coffee?
Of course, communication is crucial! Does the agent answer your phone calls, or promptly return your voice mails? Does he respond quickly to your emails? Can you text her the address of the adorable house you just drove by, and expect to get a message back? These are crucial. But…what about The Coffee?
So now you’ve determined the agent possesses all the knowledge, skills and accessibility referred to above. You’re convinced you’d be working with and out-and-out awesome professional! When you’ve figured all that out, then take a moment for The Coffee Test. Ask yourself: would this agent be the kind of person I’d want to meet for a cup of coffee? Or a drink after work? Not that you have to do so. OF COURSE NOT! You are not required to become lifelong friends with your agent. You don’t ever really need to have that cup of coffee…but it probably shouldn’t seem like torture to imagine it.
The crux of The Coffee Test is this: am I relaxed and comfortable being around this agent? Do I like him or her as a person? You’d never, ever (!) want to give up professional skill for “likeability,” but you are also allowed to expect that your dealings with your Awesome Agent are pleasant. Skill and pleasantness can co-exist. You are going to be spending LOTS of time together! You deserve to work with someone you like. Actual coffee is optional.
On Facebook: Laurie Simon Goldman, Sibcy Cline Realtors