Buying Real Estate? How to Hire an Agent in Phoenix

avatarthumbnail.jpgThere was a recent online discussion about how to hire a real estate agent that caught my eye. The person asking the original question identified themselves as a “home buyer” yet nearly every question dealt with how to interview agents to sell a home. Two very different animals, to be sure.

Tobey’s advice would be to find the agent with the sexiest beagle, but that seems overly superficial and simplistic. (Though if you’re so inclined, we probably won’t argue.)

Where buyers agents earn their money, to my mind, is in their ability to save you time and money. Are they able to find you the property you want without wasting your time, and once you find that property are they able to negotiate the best deal possible for you?

When interviewing agents (and yes, it’s often worth interviewing the agents who will help you buy as well as sell), the direct approach often can be best: tell me what you’ve done to help your buyers find their next home.

The key is to make sure that your agent does whatever is important to you. Your goals need to be clearly communicated, and what your agent will do to help you meet those goals also should be clearly communicated. Get past the basic rhetoric until you find the services you want.

Not all agents will use video and super-secret password protected buyers’ pages to help out-of-town buyers “see” the homes better, but maybe that’s not important to you.

Detailed neighborhood knowledge often can be helpful when purchasing a primary or secondary home. But when purchasing an investment property, particular a bank owned home, the bigger issue may be the knowledge of the bank’s negotiating style and the nature of the mandatory as-is addenda that may be more useful.

Technical savvy also is a plus. Many agents kicked and screamed when the new Arizona Regional MLS was put into place here in Phoenix and in the process missed the upgrades – the ability to drill down a search to an exact area using polygons (helpful for particularly funky-shaped subdivisions), radius searches that emanate from a particular address, etc. (Many probably went into shock today when the old Tempo system was shut down once and for all.)

Being able to have listings delivered to you, whether by e-mail, a listing portal or RSS, only can save time compared to running your own search day after day. Maybe it turns out to only be a matter of minutes but minutes tend to add up.

One final note … here’s how you don’t want to choose a buyers agent: call the listing agent “knowing” you’re going to get a better deal. The listing agent has been hired by the sellers to represent their best interests, not yours. Even with limited dual agency you surrender some of the representation to which you’re entitled (with your consent, of course.)

Shopping listing agents tends to take more time and often doesn’t result in any savings. The notion that homes automatically will be “cheaper” because the seller has to pay “less commission” to just one agent often is a myth. Some agents will adjust their commission if there’s only one agent involved. Many don’t.

We do, but that’s not a reason to choose us. We’re sticking with the sexy beagle aspect.

[tags]Phoenix real estate[/tags]

Jonathan Dalton

Jonathan Dalton is a 40-plus-year resident of the Valley and has been helping folks buy and sell homes since 2004. He can be reached at 602-502-9693 or info at