A couple of months ago, I sold an investment property I have here in Santa Cruz county, and decided that I'd like to invest the proceeds in some out-of-state property. So, like 90+ percent of buyers out there, the first thing I did was hop on the internet and start researching a few areas I was interested in. One thing I found surprising was how hard it was to access real estate listings in some areas - many areas I encountered did not have public access to the MLS, as we have in this area. In many areas, you had to register on a Realtor's web site, and the Realtor had to send you the listings manually. How 1997!
As a course of registering with more-than-a-few Realtors, I came into conversation with a number of them. It was pretty interesting to be in the position of a consumer, talking to a Realtor. I found a great disparity in the quality of the folks that I talked to. It was shocking to listen to all the contradictions: one Realtor might say that the market for investment property is going gang-busters, another would say the market is in a nose-dive. Some Realtors would call me right back, some would need me to call and write to them several times before I got a response.
Quite a few Realtors gave me tax and accounting advice about my 1031 exchange, which I did not solicit - I'm not sure why such advice was proffered, but I can only suppose it was to impress me with a demonstration of their knowledge (or lack thereof) of the 1031 exchange process. The funny thing is, of course, that unless a Realtor is also a CPA, they're not supposed to give out tax advice...
Ultimately, I did choose a Realtor to work with. We just closed escrow on one property, and I should be signing papers to close another tomorrow. What was it that won me over to working with this Realtor? He wasn't the most experienced, and he didn't presume to know it all. But here is what he did have:
1) Prompt communication: he always got back to me within a day of whenever I sent him an e-mail.
2) Friendly: He came off as really a nice guy, who wanted to help me.
3) Honesty: He didn't feed me any lines. He told me what he knew, and when he didn't know it, he didn't fake any it, but just said, "I'll find that out for you."
Interestingly enough, those are three traits that I pride myself on, so it is maybe no surprise that this is what I (unconsciously) looked for in a Realtor. You may be surprised to read that I was not looking for an "experienced" Realtor. Certainly, if I had found an "experienced" Realtor who had all three of the above qualities, I may have chosen to work with that individual instead - but the voices of "experience" I ran into either blew me off, were not friendly, or seemed dishonest.
It certainly was interesting being on the other side of the web browser, as a consumer of property, rather than as a purveyor. I will take those lessons learned and work, as I always do, to provide by clients with the best possible service.