Selecting a Realtor in a Small Town

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Any real estate investor knows that having a strong real estate team is an essential part of the business. You need your attorney, accountant, title officer, lender and real estate agent. The last two are probably the most important. Today we’ll talk about selecting an agent.

Ely, NevadaIn a city or a large town it’s fairly easy. You probably have hundreds of agents to choose from and you just keep going until you select one that meets your needs.  Choosing someone to work with in a very small town is a horse of a different color. You may need to choose from a very small number and it’s possible that none of them will seem to fit the bill. I was recently faced with having to make that choice myself when it was time to list a property.

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Defining the Parameters

Most of my properties are in the small mining town of Ely in northeastern Nevada. It is actually a very good real estate market with a strong demand for rentals. When I first started rehabbing there several years ago I had the opportunity to work with a truly outstanding agent. She knew the market and understood rehabbing and investment. Unfortunately after watching me make a lot more money than she did, she decided to go into rehabbing with her contractor husband and she left the business.

When she left I started working with the first agent’s associate. That worked out well until that agent left the area because of her husband’s job transfer. It was back to the drawing board for me. I defined what I was looking for in an agent and began my search. I didn’t need someone to locate properties; I did that on my own. If I was trying to buy a listed property I would have them present offers, but my real need for an agent occurred when it was time to sell. I wanted an agent that knew the market, had good negotiating skills, didn’t try to act like a know-it-all, and was accessible and responsive.

The Candidates

The pool I had to draw from was extremely limited, as there were only a few real estate offices in town. My method was to have a conversation with them before they had any idea of whether I was a buyer or seller and to get a feel for how I operated. I would drop into their office unannounced to see how I, or anyone else, would be treated. If they passed that simple test I would ask questions to see how knowledgeable they were.

Candidate number one was an agent I had briefly met a number of years prior. He had recently opened his own office and I made the assumption that he would be hungry and do a great job. For two days I dropped by his office only to find the same sign on his window – out showing properties. I called his number and left a message but he never called back. After asking around I found that this was par for the course. That was an easy elimination.

Candidate number two was an agent that I had a casual relationship with. She was someone who had been in the business for some time and was very knowledgeable. When I dropped in to chat with her there were two problems that surfaced. First she assumed that she knew more about everything than you did and acted that way. Secondly she was a negative-nelly who spent a lot of time telling you how bad things were. Scratch number two, there were only a couple of viable candidates left.

The Winner

Candidate number three was an agent I had met a couple of years prior when she showed me a property. I remembered her as being very presentable with a great  personality and an upbeat manner. I dropped in on her and quickly saw that she knew the business and had a way about her that made people feel at ease. She was extremely efficient yet didn’t act like she knew it all. I made an appointment for her to look at the property the next morning. I gave her the listing and if she does a good job, as I’m sure she will, there will be several more in the future.

Sales are contingent upon the attitude of the salesman – not the attitude of the prospect. – W. Clement Stone

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