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Ask Adam: Picking Between Realtors

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This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A column is written by Adam Gallegos of Arlington-based real estate firm Arbour Realty, voted one of Arlington Magazine’s Best Realtors of 2013 & 2014. Please submit your questions via email.

Q. We’re going to be selling our house in Arlington. Between my wife and I, we have six real estate agents in our network of friends, including the wonderful person who helped us buy our home. How should we pick who to use?

A. For most people, their home is their most valuable asset they have. That being the case, you should treat this purely as a business decision. It should go without saying that this is not a contest to be won by who you like the most, but who will produce the best results.

There are thousands of real estate agents in the D.C. area. Their level of experience, areas of expertise, organizational skills and ethics vary wildly. Not to mention their marketing, sales and negotiation skills. Commenters on my previous articles have shared many a horror story about the person they unfortunately chose to work with in the past.

I’ll provide some criteria to use in your evaluation, but I’m guessing you intuitively have a hunch who would be the best choice.

Experience — I am much less interested in how many years someone has been in the business as I am by how many transactions they been involved in like yours. You want someone who who can skillfully handle all the situations that may present themselves during the home sale process.

Time — Make sure that they have enough time to make your listing a priority. Ask how many other active and under contract listings they have right now. If they are also working with buyers, find out how many buyers they are helping. You’ll have to compare these numbers amongst the agents you are evaluating to decide what you feel comfortable with.

Niche – Do they have a niche or are they a generalist? If they do have a niche, does it fit with the home you are trying to sell? Think of it this way… if you had a serious health concern, wouldn’t you seek out the specialist who is most qualified to help you?

Marketing — ask to see examples of the marketing they do. Ask what things they are doing to market properties that are beyond the norm. This one is huge in my opinion.

Negotiation — ask about their strategies for negotiating in the current market. Bonus if they can show you examples of their results.

Violations — check the DPOR website to see if they have open or closed complaints against them. You may also want to check Yelp and Angie’s List for reviews.

Team or Individual — teams have become very popular in the real estate community and they come in all shapes and sizes. Understand up front who you are going to be working with and in what capacity.

It’s also important to pick someone you feel comfortable working with. If these are friends of yours, you probably have a good feel for this one and how similar your styles of communication are. For example, if you prefer email and texting, don’t pick the agent who is still dialing in to an AOL account.

I hope this helps. Having been in situations like this before, it is best to be up front and honest with the parties involved. They may not love your decision, but they will respect it if they are true friends.

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of

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