What to Look For in a Realtor: A Guide for St. Louis Buyers and Sellers

What to Look For in a Realtor: A Guide for St. Louis Buyers and Sellers

Whether buying or selling a home in St. Louis, finding the best realtor will involve some work. You’ll want to ask people you know for referrals, do some research, and finally, interview the best candidates. (Read Follow These 3 Steps to Find a Real Estate Agent.) Sales statistics and experience are important, but you need to feel confident in your decision on a more personal level, too.

It’s good to trust your gut, but it shouldn’t be your only consideration. We’ve compiled some specific “not-so-obvious” traits to look for from buyers’ and sellers’ perspectives.

The Best Buyer’s Agent Traits

A homebuyer’s goal is to pick a real estate agent who will work to find not just any home, but the right home for their family. They may have years of experience, work with a great team, and have an impressive inventory of homes to show you. But it’s just as important for you to feel like you are a priority to them. Someone who makes you feel protected and taken care of.

Trait #1: They Really Listen

Sure, any realtor will ask what you’re looking for, but will they really hear you? You need to find someone with whom you can communicate effectively. This doesn’t mean that either of you is doing anything wrong, per se. It just means that you might not click.

The right person will pick up on and remember little details about you and your family. They can often read between the lines to find something that will suit you, and avoid showing you things that won’t. 

The last thing a buyer wants is to waste time looking at properties that don’t fit their wishlist. Home buying shows on TV do this all the time to create drama. In real life, taking an afternoon to look at something way out of your price range, or in a neighborhood you specifically want to avoid, is a clear sign you have the wrong realtor. 

An agent’s website and social media likely won’t show a buyer if they will be on the same page. This is something that will need to be determined in a face-to-face interview. 

Trait #2: They Know the Neighborhood

Some buyers have their eyes on a specific neighborhood. Others might be new to St. Louis and don’t know the Central West End from Botanical Heights. 

Realtors may “specialize” in certain areas of the city and have the inside track on what’s available. If they excel at Trait #1 and understand a buyer’s needs, they may be able to steer them toward similar neighborhoods that the buyer hadn’t considered. They may find something that is just as desirable but perhaps less expensive or closer to the buyer’s job.

Having experience in a neighborhood and what it has to offer can help the buyer narrow their search. For example, if the buyer has their heart set on a Tudor on a specific street, but they rarely go on the market, the realtor can be on the lookout should one become available.

Trait #3: They Point Out Red Flags

A buyer needs to know that their real estate agent is looking out for their best interest. Agents who truly care about finding their clients not just a home, but the best home, will point out problems. They may notice little things that buyers might not even know to look for.

For example, most homes in St. Louis have basements. Basements are great if they’re in good shape, but many have foundation problems and are musty or leaky. An inexperienced buyer might see new paint on basement walls as a plus. An observant realtor might realize it’s an attempt to hide water damage.

Or a buyer might be smitten with a home’s grand staircase, while the realtor might notice how deep and narrow the steps are, or that the hardware needs replacing. Even if the buyer still wants the house, he or she will at least be aware of the work to be done (and its cost) in order to ensure that the stairs are safe.

As a buyer, it’s sometimes easy to fall in love with a home and see it through rose-colored glasses. Or they’ve been looking for a long time and are getting anxious and impatient to find a house. Finding a realtor who won’t sugar-coat the situation is very helpful. They can look at a house objectively and point out flaws that buyers are either too excited or too exhausted to see.

The Best Seller’s Agent Traits

Homeowners have two goals when selling a house: They want to get a good price, and they want to sell it fast. A good real estate agent can help make both of those wishes come true. Sellers will want to look into an agent’s experience and success rate. But just like buyers, they need to feel that their realtor is a good fit and will make selling their home a priority.

Trait #1: They Know What Sells a House Fast

Experienced realtors know what works to move homes fast. They can offer concrete advice about what repairs and home improvements are necessary. Understanding that a seller has a limited budget, they can suggest which projects are most important. For example, even though curb appeal is important, money is most likely better spent to update a kitchen than to redo the landscaping.

While a choice like this might seem obvious, homeowners have a tendency to become comfortable with the flaws in their homes. It sometimes takes the objective eye of a realtor to point out what should be changed. And sometimes, it’s not so obvious. For instance, maybe a seller can afford new kitchen appliances or bathroom updates, but not both. A real estate agent familiar with buying trends and the market can steer them toward the choice that makes the most sense.

St. Louis is notorious for strict home inspections. A good real estate agent will be well versed in what inspectors are looking for so sellers can take care of things ahead of the buyer’s inspection. They also often have a network of repair and maintenance professionals to help with whatever needs to get done.

A good way to know if an agent will be helpful in this regard is to hear what they have to say when they see the house. They should offer feedback about the home’s flaws and advice that makes sense about the steps to take.

Trait #2: They Recognize a Home’s Value

Any real estate agent can estimate a house’s monetary value. The right agent for a seller sees all of its other selling points too. 

Just as owners get used to the flaws in a house, they also sometimes take for granted some of its best features. It might take a realtor who knows what buyers are looking for to point them out.

For example, a seller might be anxious to move because their house is too small. But if it’s in a great school district, a smart realtor will tout it as a great starter home for a couple just starting a family. 

A fixer-upper might be a hard sell, but an agent can use the fact that it’s in a desirable, historic neighborhood or is on an extra-large lot to its advantage. Or they can point out original features like crown molding or built-ins that appeal to many homebuyers.

Sometimes all it takes is someone who sees a home with fresh eyes. A good realtor knows what buyers are looking for and can often see the positives that will effectively offset what the seller perceives as a negative. 

Trait #3: They Have a Good Marketing Strategy

Successful real estate agents use a mixture of marketing techniques to sell homes. Most have a strong online presence with a website and active social media accounts. They also use more traditional techniques such as open houses, yard signs, and printed newspaper inserts or booklets.

Sellers should ask when interviewing realtors about what type of marketing they plan to use to sell their house. Agents should have a grasp of what works to bring in potential buyers in the area and for the seller’s type of home. Ideally, the agent will have access to several different tactics. 

If whatever they try initially isn’t working, it’s important that they will be ready and willing to get creative and change up their methods. 

Finding the Right Realtor Relationship

The goal of any buyer or seller in St. Louis is to complete their buying or selling journey as quickly and pleasantly as possible. If they click with their real estate agent, the process is much more likely to move smoothly. 

A realtor’s sales statistics and years of experience are great, but only provide part of the story. Looking for traits that give buyers and sellers confidence in the relationship can help ensure a successful outcome. And like many types of relationships, you know it when you’ve found “the one.” 

Berkshire Hathaway Homesellers Select Properties has agents all over the St. Louis region. We’re confident that whether you’re buying or selling, you’ll find the right fit with us.

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