Does a Realtor's reviews matter when searching for a home?
When you are selling a home, it is obvious that you want to read a Realtor's online reviews because you want to hire the one best suited to sell your home. However, it might not be as obvious that if you are buying a home, online reviews are every bit as important for a buyer as they are a seller. In fact, you might argue they are more important because a buyer has to live within the house, and the wrong house in Long Island might end up being a plumbing, electrical, or renovation nightmare if you select the wrong Realtor who does not ask the right questions or know the right things to look for.
1. Determining the experience level of a buyer's agent
Experience is often defined by the number of years a person has helped people sell or buy homes. Of course, this is a useful indicator, but you should also browse reviews to determine the types of problems the person has helped solve. For instance, when you are buying a home, there are many different things to look for that are ignored during a routine inspection.
Plumbing systems are something that most home inspectors do not assess. However, plumbing problems are a common headache for people moving into a recent purchase. If online reviews mention that an agent helped ward off the following problems, he or she might have more important experience than someone else with more years of experience.
- solving inspection problems
- the right connections with inspectors and licensing companies
- knowing the right process to go through when getting pre-approved
- knowing the ins and outs of offering full-offer bids versus low bids
- knowing when to wait on offering a bid for one house because another house will hit the market very soon
- paperwork processing to ensure a timely closing process
- years lived in the area
2. The difference between star levels
When reading reviews, it is important to pay attention to what type of star a review gets. Regarding fake reviews, five-star reviews are known to sometimes be written by friends and families. Four-star reviews are often considered positive and thoughtful reviews by people who might have had a very minor complaint but were generally very pleased.
Three-star reviews as well as two-star reviews represent people taking actual time out of their lives to offer a critical and often negative review. In the way four-star reviews are the most accurate of positive reviews, three-star and two-star reviews are the most accurate of negative reviews. One-star reviews, for instance, are sometimes entered by competitors or made by angry people who just want to vent.
When reading the reviews, you should attempt to assess how likely it is the reviews are fake. Too many five-star reviews with few others might indicate fraud or family recruiting.
3. Review specifics
In any review, you should look for positive reviews that indicate specific skills. For instance, some reviews might say that a Realtor was friendly and helpful throughout the buying process. This type of language is vague. However, another review might offer more specific points on an agent's performance, so you should look for the following types of specific language.
- kept all paperwork up to date
- kept the closing date on track
- worked hard to negotiate the best price
- made himself or herself available during the weekend to show houses
- answered questions about the neighborhood's crime rate or school quality
Simply put, whenever someone takes the time to write a review about an agent's performance and whenever that review outlines specific actions that an agent took, you can reasonably expect the review to be real. Additionally, you can expect to receive the same level of assistance. Conversely, if negative aspects are equally specific, you might want to consider a different agent.
Obviously, no agent wants to meet someone late at night at a home in the dark. Doing so is potentially dangerous. However, agents should always be available at odd times on weekday mornings and weekends. The nature of the job for anyone making a living in real estate is that they will have clients with all sorts of schedules, and those schedules might make for an erratic weekend or weekday. However, some agents protect their own time while others devote themselves to their clients, and reviews left by clients will reflect just how accommodating an agent has been.
Any time a review indicates that an agent has made himself or herself available for a morning showing or is willing to travel across town to show a newly available house, you probably have found someone you should hire. Additionally, you should browse the reviews for the following words.
- last minute
- sudden schedule change
- immediately after school
- immediately after church
- before church
Anyone willing to meet you at the last minute is dedicated to helping you buy the house of your family's dreams.
5. Neighborhood location
Reviews for any prospective buyer's agent should indicate what neighborhoods the person operates in, and you should find someone with experience that matches the areas in which you want to buy. This might sound obvious, but many agents will say they are qualified to buy and sell throughout the entire state.
However, when it comes to Long Island, if an agent does not have experience in certain neighborhoods, he or she might not know, for instance, that some neighborhoods are prone to slightly more violence or that the prices of some inventory can be impacted by remaining on the market for too long.
If someone is attempting to get back into real estate, you might see a lapse in time between past reviews and more recent reviews. Such a lapse might indicate the person did not do very well previously. Additionally, it might mean the person needs more recent experience to become qualified to buy or sell homes in certain neighborhoods. For instance, if the person has not been active for 10 or 15 years, he or she might not be truly qualified to help buy or sell homes that have been built within the last few years as building codes or safety codes might have changed.
One of the very best things people say about quality agents is that they always communicate, return calls, or follow up. You should also look for reviews that reflect someone's ability to remain organized and promptly return phone calls. Finally, you should look for reviews that indicate a person will return texts and answer e-mails. If you find someone who might leave you hanging, you need to keep looking for another agent.
8. Sales experience
Reviews that applaud an agent for helping to sell a home will indicate an agent who can serve a buyer from the perspective of a seller. For instance, a buyer's agent who is also a successful sales agent will be able to let you know how the seller for a house you want to buy might react to a low-ball offer. Additionally, he or she will be able to anticipate things an owner might be trying to hide. Finally, he or she will be able to assess the accuracy of a price and the probability of an owner capitulating to certain demands, such as fixing minor repairs or paying for closing costs.