An experienced real estate agent can be one of the most valuable resources for a residential real estate investor. The roles of agent and investor are complementary and can be mutually beneficial—provided that each professional understands and appreciates the strengths of the other.
The most effective real estate agents can serve as the eyes and ears of the investor. “One of the main advantages a real estate agent brings to the table is knowledge of a particular market—which is especially helpful for out-of-town investors,” says Shawn Miller, CEO of 5 Arch. “The real estate agent can clue you in on the best properties and the best parts of town, and you won’t waste valuable time looking into properties that are not going to suit your needs.”
Sure, you can learn valuable market information from onsite resources like Zillow, Mashvisor, or Realtor.com. But real estate agents who work the market, day in and day out, can give you insights and anecdotal knowledge you often cannot get from other sources.
Developing the Realtor-Investor Relationship
There are several prerequisites for developing a good working relationship with a real estate agent. First, make sure you choose a qualified professional that you truly respect. “Mutual respect is a precursor to any productive relationship,” says Miller. “The best way to gain respect is if you are confident that you are working with people who really know their stuff.”
The best real estate agents have built a proven track record and a strong reputation among past clientele. So, of course, you will want to check references and look for a record of past real estate transactions online. You can find valuable information about agents—including listing activities, ratings and reviews, specializations, and areas served—on such websites as Zillow and “Find a Realtor” section of Realtor.com.
However, a good relationship is a two-way street. Investors need to hold up their end of the relationship, and a key to that is being considerate of the agent’s time. Before you even approach an agent, make sure you have an investment plan in mind. Know the types of properties you are looking for, your price points, your location parameters, and other factors. That way, your time spent with the agent will be more productive for the both of you.
“A real estate agent’s time is valuable, so you don’t want to waste it,” Miller says. “The more specific you can be upfront, the more effective the real estate agent is going to be in presenting you with the properties that meet your needs—and the more receptive the agent will be to work with you in the future.”
Strengthening the Relationship
A good investor/real estate agent relationship will tend to get better over time. “You will become more comfortable with one another,” says Miller. “The agent will know what you’re looking for and become more proactive in reaching out to you when a property becomes available that suits your needs. This will enable you to act faster, make better deals, and ultimately become a better investor.”
As time passes, you also develop a greater sense of trust. You know you can rely on the agent to shoot straight and look out for your best interests. At the same time, your agent comes to appreciate you as a reliable source of business that values his or her expertise.
“The two of you become partners, in the truest sense of the word, with each of you benefiting from the relationship and becoming more successful in the process,” Miller says.
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