By John Stemlar
The spectrum of knowledge, skill and experience among Atlanta real estate agents is broad. Sadly, name recognition, social obligation or unvetted referral are how many people choose an agent. With so much at stake in buying or selling a home, deciding with whom to place your trust and confidence warrants digging deeper and demanding more. Access, Advise and Advocacy offer a meaningful framework for choosing a real estate agent.
Does the Agent Have ACCESS to the Market?
Access to the real estate market is more than MLS membership, ability to show homes and having the contract forms. Access is about tapping into all the knowledge, information, experience and relationships that are the “real estate market.” Is the agent plugged in?
The real estate marketplace is dynamic. Real-time property information, as well as understanding submarket supply, demand, velocity and trends are the key to capturing opportunities and avoiding pitfalls. The most valuable market knowledge is often subtle or hidden between the lines of generally available information. Access, of course, also requires an agent to be connected within the real estate community and skilled in working effectively with other agents on your behalf.
Is the Agent Qualified to ADVISE You?
A real estate license is embarrassingly easy to get. Merely holding a license does not make an agent a real estate market, finance or contract expert. Nor does it qualify the agent to advise you or negotiate on your behalf in such an important financial, legal and lifestyle undertaking as buying or selling a home. Is the agent truly a qualified real estate professional?
Market knowledge, transaction experience and deal savvy are what make an agent a real estate expert qualified to advise homebuyers and sellers. These, along with overall “real estate wisdom” are developed only over many years and dozens of diverse and often challenging transactions. Financial and legal/contract acumen matter; these come from formal education and/or relevant career experience. In choosing a real estate agent, always consider the resume behind the license.
Is the Agent and Her Brokerage Your ADVOCATE?
Georgia does not impose a fiduciary duty on real estate brokerages with respect to their clients. The laws permit and encourage profitable conflicts of interest, which are routinely engaged in by brokerages and their agents. The nature of the agent-client relationship, including agents’ unique access to information and control of communication, often obfuscates these conflicts. Would the agent and her brokerage be your advocate in all aspects of the relationship? Would they promote and protect your interests ahead of their own? How would you really know?
Competent, professional and ethical real estate representation can only be delivered in the context of a fiduciary relationship – one that is transparent and free of conflicts and self-dealing. Sage is the only full-service Atlanta brokerage that adopts conflict-free, fiduciary (True Agency) brokerage.
John Stemlar is a Principal and the Managing Broker of Sage Real Estate Advisors, a boutique Atlanta residential brokerage. He also promotes Brookhaven’s Lynwood Park and homes for sale in Lynwood Park at www.LynwoodParkHomes.com.