It’s tough finding a good real estate agent in Boise, ID; it’s hard to know where to start with our 5,000+ REALTORS®! During my time in broker management, I realized that not every real estate agent is created equal. My work consisted of reviewing every listing and sales contract of over 300 agents for state compliance, and I couldn’t believe the mistakes I found on a regular basis. When I started fielding what I thought were simple questions from the licensees, I saw proof of the 80/20 Rule: Not only did 20% of the brokers do 80% of the work, but not surprisingly, it was the 20% that were any good! If you’re a believer in the Pareto Principle, that’s a pretty scary figure – that means only 1 in 5 real estate agents will represent you well in a transaction!
There was a time I was embarrassed to tell people I am a real estate agent. For one, there is a general dislike toward salespeople (which I TOTALLY get), but also the stereotypes can be true; so-and-so became an agent because she can’t hold down a real job, or she can’t do anything more, ah hem, “cerebral.” Yes, some agents have such horrible time management skills or ADHD they wouldn’t be able to keep a 9 to 5 job if their life depended on it, and some agents truly are clueless. I’ve seen agents who are great at building their business because of their charm and conversation skills yet are terrible negotiators. There are those who boast of decades upon decades of experience, yet they don’t bother to learn the boilerplate in contracts. Or maybe you found an agent in Boise, ID who is good at everything but never returns calls or answers emails. There are so many ways an agent could create an unnecessarily stressful experience for their clients, which honestly, is the least of your worries!
So, what could go wrong if you hire an agent who just isn’t that great? If you’re a buyer, there is more at stake. The most obvious consequence is losing out on the house you want. An experienced agent will not only know the current Boise, ID housing market to help her client make an appropriate offer but will also be assertive if need be. Sometimes a good agent must risk offending her buyer to explain, “If you really want the house, this is a terrible offer.” Quick side note: it is license LAW (not just in Idaho; this is nation-wide) that if a client asks their agent to write up an offer, for example, for half the asking price, the agent must do it. I have written up some bad offers in my time, but not without first trying to educate my client, which is in their best interest. A poor agent may simply refuse to write up the offer (yes, I’ve seen this, and I don’t get what part of the law is misunderstood??) or will write up the offer without giving their clients any constructive feedback.
Another possible drawback of hiring a bad agent to buy your new Boise, ID home is that you could lose all negotiating power. There are some lazy agents out there who want to make their commission with the least amount of work possible (I see this most commonly in “veteran” agents). An accepted offer is just the beginning; there are several deadlines and subsequent negotiations where having an agent who is not mindful could, for example, force a buyer to buy a house “as-is” even if the inspection reveals thousands of dollars of repairs. I recently represented a seller in this situation; the buyer’s agent missed the inspection deadline by only one day, but a contract is a contract! Whether you are a buyer or seller, if you happen to default on the contract, the other side gets to call the shots. A very scary thought!
Most possibly the worst outcome should you use a crappy agent to buy a house: loss of your earnest money. It’s not easy to lose earnest money; you’d have to default on the contract first. But one can understand how this could happen if your agent is not mindful and neglects to inform you of conditions you may not know about (or worse yet, conditions the AGENT doesn’t know about). Using the earlier example where the buyer’s agent missed the inspection deadline, his buyers could have terminated the contract instead of buying the house without repairs, but my seller would have got their $5,000. I have never lost a client’s earnest money!
As for sellers, the main risk of using an inexperienced or insecure agent is a longer time with your house on the market. If your agent isn’t comfortable educating you on the fair market price of your home (or worse: they don’t know themselves), your house may sit overpriced on the market for months on end. This can become a huge problem for sellers if they need to move or have already bought another house, but some agents don’t seem to empathize with their sellers’ sense of urgency even if they understand that this creates a constant drain on a seller’s finances. A good Boise, ID agent will refuse to take a listing if the seller insists on an unreasonable price instead of opting for free advertising with their sign in a yard.
Unfortunately, by the time you learn your agent is less-than-stellar, it’s usually too late and the fate of your home or finances lie in the crosshairs. Worse yet, it’s very difficult to know beforehand whether an agent is going to do a good job for you. Getting referrals from friends can be tricky because everyone has different standards and expectations of a real estate agent; an agent who did a great job for your friend may not necessarily do a great job for you. So what is one to do?
There’s no magic answer, though you are less likely to hire a dud if you find a real estate agent who is “hungry” (don’t confuse this with hiring a newbie though as they may treat you like gold, but won’t know what to do when the going gets rough). You never know what or who you’ll get by calling your Boise, ID Rockstar, and if you want personal attention, keep in mind a veteran agent will probably employ an assistant or transaction coordinator to help keep up with her many clients. I do not employ an assistant or transaction coordinator so I can give my clients complete personal attention, plus details are more likely to slip through the cracks with an assistant involved. I also commit to “juggling” three or less transactions at any given time; I choose to do only a handful of transactions each year, but that doesn’t mean I don’t like to work!
In conclusion, here’s my advice:
Don’t settle. It’s a bit exhausting, but there is nothing wrong with interviewing multiple agents, including the ones your friends have suggested. Do your due diligence, and if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Don’t reward poor or mediocre service. If you weren’t completely happy with your last agent, don’t use her again just by default. There are some great agents here in Boise, ID!
Don’t bail on a good one. Once you find an agent you trust, stick with her!