As an investor, your main concern is always building your book of business, in the simplest way possible and with the least amount of headache. The right realtor as a partner can be an asset or hindrance to building that book of business.
I have found, in my years of experience with my investors, that there are several qualities that are real assets when working with a real estate partner.
1. Your realtor should always have your best interests at heart. It may seem to go without saying, but your needs have to be paramount, and certainly more important than any individual transaction. If your realtor is more interested in “making a sale” than a successful outcome for you, then you have the wrong agent. Your realtor must be willing to walk away from a transaction if it will not bring you the result that you want.
2. Your agent must have a clear understanding of the long term goals you have for building your portfolio. Every investor is different, both in long term goals and risk tolerance. Part of being able to find the right real estate agent with whom to partner lies in your ability to clearly communicate your goals and your willingness to take risk. Once communicated, your agent must be willing and able to strategically meet those goals without exceeding your risk factor.
3. The agent should bring real value to the table. There is only one reason to align yourself to an agent: they make your team stronger by the assets they bring. Those assets can be a network of other agents that can share off-market listings, their market savvy, their ability to act as a concierge for you by finding you contractors and tradesmen, attorneys, accountants, etc. Nowadays, it is not enough for a Realtor to shepherd the investor through the transaction; they should be with you throughout your investing life.
4. An investor agent should have personal investing experience. Ideally, you want an agent who has done his or her own real estate investing. It does not necessarily have to be substantial, but it is helpful if they have gone through the process on their own. This ensures familiarity with investing on a personal level, not simply as an agent. Agents like this will understand your motivations, and will be easier to work with in general.
5. Look for an agent who will give it to you straight. Honest agents will explain to you upfront what they are and are not willing to do to help you in the investment process. Some are glad to help with flipping houses, while others may prefer the steadier route of buying and holding. The best agent for you is one that lays everything on the table at the beginning, leaving you to decide if the fit is right. Integrity goes a long way in business, and should be a priority when picking a real estate agent for investing.
6. Find an agent willing to “write until it’s right”. Real estate investing can require making numerous offers, often all during the same day. You are trying to get a seller to bite on the lowest possible offer you can manage, and this sometimes requires throwing out numbers one after another until something sticks. Not every agent is capable of doing this, as it requires a stomach for numerous rejections, and the ability to weather negative feedback from sellers and their agents.
7. Find a long term local agent. Local knowledge is one of the biggest reasons why you seek out an agent. If you are like many investors, you are looking for where the market is prime for buying low and eventually selling high. This area may not be in your neighborhood or anywhere near it, which means you need someone with his or her finger on the pulse of the area market you are considering. It may take some time, some searching and several interviews before you find an investor friendly agent in the area you want, but it can be done. Just don’t make the mistake of picking an agent that does not know the local market – even if he or she is perfect otherwise.