Is Your Agent Properly Licensed?
The state of Arizona requires a license issued by the state in order to legally do business as a real estate agent. Ninety hours of classes is required by an ac- credited school or university and the student must pass a school test and another exam administered by the state. Once both tests are successfully passed and a few more requirements, including fingerprinting and a contract-writing class, the student becomes a licensee and can represent buyers and sell- ers as a real estate agent. I believe the general public has the conception that the ability to secure a real estate license thoroughly prepares the new licensee to represent the public in real estate transactions. The truth is that the licensing requirements by the state do not include any training in negotiat- ing, pricing, positioning, staging, marketing, advertising and the skills necessary that are necessary to get a home sold. Most agents get their training on the job with real buyers and sellers. In other professions including physicians, dentists, appraisers, teachers and cosmetologists, candidates are required to first practice on the public under supervision of an experienced professional as an intern, apprentice or student teacher. This is not a requirement in real estate.
Don’t assume that just because an individual has a real estate license that they are equipped with the education and experience to get your home sold. When looking for the right agent, ask questions to determine which one is prepared to do the best job for you in selling one of our most expensive and valuable investments. Knowledge comes from experience. Ask how long an agent has been in the business and how many homes they have sold in your area. An agent with experience in your neighborhood will have the advantage of market knowledge and will know the condition and history of homes in the area. They know why some homes have sold and some have not. They understand pricing strategies and have physically seen the homes in your area that have recently sold and the ones that are actively on the market that will be competition for your home. Neighborhood specialists are also very in tune with what buyers in the market are looking for in a home.
In today’s market it is imperative to hire an agent that is experienced in short sales and bank-owned properties. Ask how many short sales they have successfully closed and how many bank-owned properties they have closed. A good agent will be prepared to position a buyer so that they will be attrac- tive to a seller in this competitive market. A good agent with a great reputation will have a much better chance in helping a buyer secure a home in today’s market, when it is common to be bidding against several other buyers. Ask for references of other buyers and sellers that have worked with them and ask what training and certifications they have for distressed properties.
If an agent is relatively new to the industry find out about the company they work for and ask if they have a mentor or experienced agent they work closely with that they can tap into their experience while learning the ropes. Check to see what type of training their company provides to help them be- come successful at getting your home sold. And keep in mind that education is not re- served for the newer agents–it is imperative to agents at all experience levels. Markets shift and they way we market properties has to shift along with them to succeed in differ- ent markets. Technology has also changed the way we work dramatically. It is a full-time job to stay on top of technology in order to keep up with the new ways buyers have to search for homes. Just because your agent has a website does not mean that buyers
are aware of it and are using it. In today’s market the majority of buyers begin their search on the web. What is your agent do- ing to make sure potential buyers are getting to their web site to see your home? What are they doing to make sure your property
is on as many web sites as possible? How are they driving buyers to their website and what are they offering to keep the buyer coming back to it and bookmarking it? What are they doing to optimize themselves in the search engines? Ask the agent these questions and others to qualify what they are doing to stay on top of trends in the mark and technology. Is the agent a full time professional or do
they have another job/jobs? A professional real estate agent will be fully committed to real estate as a business, not a way to make money on the side. Does the agent behave like a professional business owner and run their business like a business? In other words, do they have staff to make sure all of the details involved in a real estate transac- tion get done? Do they have a team that is available to answer calls, show properties and present offers or is the agent acting as their own receptionist, assistant and sign installer? A professional agent will spend the majority of their time looking for buyers, negotiation and getting homes sold and closed. Having a team of professionals frees them up to have more time to do what they do best—getting homes sold.
Licensees in Arizona are required to take 24 hours of renewal hours to maintain their license every two years. These classes are the required minimum that agents must take to keep their license active. These classes generally keep agents up to date on laws,
fair housing, agency, commissioners rules and do not deal with the day-to-day necessities of running a successful real estate prac- tice. There are designations that a small per- centage of agents have that represent their commitment to furthering their professional education. Some of these designations
are C.R.S. (Certified Residential Specialist), G.R.I. (Graduate of The Real Estate Institute) and A.B.R. (Accredited Buyer Specialist) and CDPE (Certified Distressed Property Expert).
We all have friends and family members that have their real estate license. Don’t make the mistake in thinking this prepares them to successfully sell your home. They could be of the highest integrity and have the best intentions, however, without education and experience it will be difficult for them to know what to do to get your home success- fully sold in any market. Don’t be afraid to do the research and ask questions to get the right agent to get the job done for you. SMDn
Carlie Back is a resident of the South Mountain District and a local real-estate agent with Keller Williams Lifestyle Realty. E-mail her with aques- tions, comments and suggestions at email@example.com