Whether you are are already living here in Lake Chapala and are considering selling or you are new to the area and considering buying, it is important that you find yourself a dependable, trustworthy agent that will represent you well. With the recent spike in real estate sales and with no barriers to entry (Realtors are not licensed in Mexico) it seems lately that there are more Realtors than houses for sale in the Lakeside area.
So how do you go about picking a great agent? What are the things you should do to help ensure that you will be happy with the sale or purchase transaction of your home?
Start With The Agency
There are big agencies that have been around a long time and there are small ones that aren't even on the Lake Chapala MLS (or have been booted off it). So first off, especially if you are listing your home, make sure that the agency is approved by the Chapala Association of Realtors and is on the MLS. For sellers, this will provide your home with tons more exposure than choosing an agency that is not.
Check The Pictures
Pictures tell a 1000 words, so have a look at the agencies pictures and more specifically at the agent's pictures of current listings. Are they of exceptional quality or are they dark? Do they use a professional photographer or cell phone? It's easy to tell the difference. Does it represent the house well or do they only have pictures of the back yard or of the view? Amazingly enough, I have even seen a picture on the MLS of a dog taking a poop in the back yard! I'm sure the vendor was thrilled to see that.
Do They Include LOTS Of Pictures?
The MLS allows for 12 pictures. Are the agents posting all 12? Be wary of those that don't. It already hints that they are not caring enough to work hard for you.
In addition, some agencies have an allowance for yet more pictures on their website.
Do They Have Video?
Video is a powerful tool nowadays and is a must for many home buyers to properly view the home from afar. Not many agencies have this huge value added feature. Be sure to ask when inquiring at the agency!
Next to the pictures and video the next most important thing is the description. Has the agent taken the time and effort to write a really good description that will captivate the mind of a prospective buyer so that they will request a viewing? Does it include all of the great features of your home? Is it accurate?
How quick is the agent in getting back to you? By phone? By email? Do they keep their appointments? Are they on time? Do They Provide Professional Service?
Do they supply you with a copy of the contract right away?
Do they show up on time for open houses?
Do they advertise your listing in the Points South Realty Magazine every month and Ojo del Lago Magazine?
Do they include your home on the Realtors Caravan which is held every second Thursday?
A big sale killer is working with the wrong Realtor. Work with a Realtor who is informed and can provide helpful services through the entire selling process.
If your agent fails to do a Comparative Market Analysis—a process in which the agent tours your home, looks at homes similar to yours that have sold in the past six months, then suggests an asking price—then they're just not working hard enough for you. They should also do an evaluation based on land and construction costs and have the numbers to substantiate the asking price.
If you’re simply not ready to shop for a home, a good agent will wait things out and stay in touch by emailing you updates to show your business still matters.
They should be regularly monitoring the Multiple Listing Service and know what properties are going on the market.
Lying about bids or withholding information about a crack in the foundation, for example, are patently unethical behaviors and signs that you should terminate your relationship with that agent immediately.
All Realtors should also be recommending a home inspection be made by a reputable inspector for every home purchase. If they are not then suspect that they are only after the sale and don't have your best interests in mind.
Check out company's websites and Facebook Pages. Our whole society is media driven now and we all flock to the internet for information. Is the company's website responsive and well laid out? Are the listings well represented with pictures and video? Look at reviews and Facebook comments from previous clients.
Also check to see if the Realtor you are choosing has a Facebook Page. How many Likes do they have? Is it kept up to date? Check the Reviews section and read the reviews.
All this is additional exposure on top of the MLS listing and is valuable in helping your home sell as quickly as possible.
Are the busiest the best?
Don't automatically assume that the busiest Realtor is the best. Check their work. Pictures/description on the MLS. Ask for references of previous clients and ask probing questions. While the busiest agents usually got to be where they are by working hard, there is only so much one person can do. Some of the busiest agents don't have the time to represent your home well with frequent open houses and networking.
Interview Prospective Agents
Whether buying or selling, when it comes time to choose an agent to represent you, pick three of your favorites and interview them. You'll know an agent is on the right track when they ask thoughtful questions like:
Sellers: What is your time frame to sell. What improvements have you made to your home? Have you worked with a Realtor before? What was the experience like? What are your expectations for me? How often should we be in touch?
Buyers: What is your time frame to buy? What neighborhoods are you interested in? Tell me about your dream home. What is your price range? What are your expectations for me? How often should we be in touch.
Get in touch with at least 3 to 5 of the last clients your agent worked with and ask how it went. Would they hire this agent again?
Everything is on the internet nowadays. Google the Realtor’s name with the word “complaint” next to it. Bad reviews should send up red flags.
Thank you for reading this blog. It should be said that there are many good Realtors here in the Lake Chapala area. It's for you to find the best one suited to you and the one that you can trust.
To finish this blog I'll leave you with a few pictures you don't want to have on your listing that I pulled off the “recently added” section of the MLS. Unfortunately, sad to say, it wasn't hard to find bad pictures.
Your home is your most valuable investment. Do your due diligence, demand better, and make sure you are represented well.