Realtor.com says, on average nationwide, prices and sales  are blooming, inventories are wilting, and more and more markets reveal a  potential for growth not seen in years.

“Things are picking up. All the prices are down and interest rates are really  low. It’s like Macy’s is having a sale,” said Martin Morales, Secretary-Treasurer of the Monterey County  (CA) Association of Realtors.

No, you didn’t miss the bottom, but the potential for a buyers’ bum rush and forecasts for higher rates later this year could cause the  competition to heat up this spring.

That’s your cue.

Hire a real estate market hero

It’s the best time to buy a home in years, but the worst time to move without  a professional on the payroll.

Shopping in today’s housing market without first hiring a licensed real  estate agent is like going to war without combat skills. Investors will show you  no mercy, all-cash buyers are looking to make a killing and agent-represented  buyers are locked and loaded.

Ask family members, relatives, friends, co-workers and others you trust for a  referral. Also get referrals from Realtor.com’s “Find a REALTOR” search engine.

Look for tenured experience in general and specialty experience – designations and certifications – for certain sales skills,  including short sales, second homes, green homes, luxury homes, buyer  representation and property management, to name a few, depending upon your  needs.

“Talk to your sphere of influence. Also, take a look around the neighborhood  where you want to live and see who is active and who has testimonials that prove  they are active and successful” said Karen Smyth, a  real estate agent with Keller Williams Realty-Peachtree Road, Atlanta, GA.

Look for technology super powers

Today, tech-savvy is just as important as a solid track record, but it goes  beyond laptops and desktops. Today’s housing browser is always connected and  always on the go.

Virtually all, 98 percent, of homebuyers who used a mobile device (smart  phone or tablet) in their home search considered the device a valuable tool,  with 46 percent asserting the tech tool as “essential” and 52 percent stating it  as “helpful,” according to a “Mobile Home Shoppers” a study from Network Communications,  Inc. (NCI).

“Our research supports that homebuyers are turning to their smart phones and  tablets in their search and taking action to reach real estate professionals,” says Scott Dixon, president of NCI’s Real Estate Division.

According to NCI, mobile device users do pretty much everything the last tech  generation of home buyers did, and then some, when they went browsing for  housing. The new breed of home shopper plugs into GPS to locate listings and  check out neighborhoods, they fire up apps to help them hone their search, and,  via social media, they Care Bear-share listings, video tours and their  successful home-buying experience with family, friends and acquaintances.

“Tech-savvy agents who are comfortable with methods of communication such as  Twitter, Facebook, Skype, etc. tend to be faster to respond to their clients  needs and thus also able to alert buyers faster when new homes come on the  market, which is important due to well-priced inventory moving quickly right  now,” said Jonathan Benya, a real  estate agent with Keller Williams of Southern Maryland.

“We’ve seen a 50 percent drop in inventory over the last 12 months, so  response time is key,” Benya added.

With great power, comes great responsibility

But a suitcase full of gadgets doesn’t amount to a hill of beans if the agent  can’t wield other powers, says Morales, broker/co-owner of Century 21 Scenic Bay  Properties in Monterey, CA .

For example, in the third of the market that offers bargain basement prices  on distressed properties, the agent must ferret out hellish conditions that can  come with those properties.

“The value of the agent is not showing properties any more. Anyone can look  at a property, but you need someone to show you how to know if you can profit on  the property. Someone who can keep you out of harms way so you don’t buy a  property that will give you problems in long run,” said Morales.

Mild-mannered alter ego

Oakford Taylor, a  real estate agent with Long and Foster in Bear, DE says the fundamentals also  still apply, especially now, more than ever, in this hurry-up-and-get-it-done  world.

Having strong rapport with an agent supercedes all else.  If the two of you  can’t talk, the deal will balk.

“It doesn’t matter what credentials you have. If you don’t have interpersonal  skills, people will walk away,” said Taylor, snapping his cape.

 

Rob Longo, Sales Representative    ABR, GREEN, RSPS    Magic Realty Inc.    805 N. Christina Street    Sarnia, Ontario    www.roblongo.ca    www.magicrealty.com