Choosing a Sonoma Realtor What You Need to Know
Kirsten’s Sonoma Real Estate Report
Did you know that there are approximately 500 licensed real estate agents in Sonoma Valley? The population of the city of Sonoma, at last count by the U.S. Census Bureau, is somewhere around 10,000. That means there is an agent for every 20 residents of our historic wine country town.
You've probably been approached by agents who would love to represent you in your next sale or purchase. If you've been thinking about selling or buying, odds are you know at least one agent and, most likely, several more. You may have a neighbor or a relative who sells real estate.
I've heard numerous Sonoma residents say it's tough to chose an agent because they know so many and not just here in Sonoma but also in Marin, Napa, even San Francisco. They are torn between loyalty to these agents and their concerns about the financial ramifications of a real estate buy---or sale. Loyalty is a great thing but when it comes to real estate deals you need to remember how much money is at stake. You've got to choose a Sonoma Realtor who is best able to help you reach your financial needs and goals. In today's challenging market and with technology playing such a big role in real estate sales, there are some key things to focus on. Here are two:
Hire A Local Realtor
Whether you are selling or buying real estate in Sonoma Valley, chose a local Sonoma agent who knows the area and actually lives here. When you list with an out-of-area agent you put yourself at a disadvantage because she or he is not likely to know much about ongoing market trends, comparable sales, or homes similar to yours that might be competing for your buyer. And here's a fact that often gets overlooked: an out-of-area agent can't sell Sonoma as effectively as a local agent can. A listing agent is selling a lot more than your house. They are selling the community and a lifestyle defined by its restaurants, grocery stores, and public attractions like the Sonoma Barracks, Train Town, our farmer's markets, and our lovely parks. A local agent also has close working relationships with other Sonoma Realtors, which result in more productive negotiations and smoother deals.
An out-of-area buyer's agent comes to town with drawbacks, too. These include a lack of knowledge about the specific neighborhoods and communities of Sonoma Valley. Out-of-area buyer's agents don't know about local zoning, our schools, health care, or local supplemental property taxes. They usually don't know who to call for the best local inspectors to help make sure the property you want to buy is worth the price. A city agent often knows little about septic systems or wells, both major factors in decisions about buying country property in Sonoma Valley.
To sum up---if you are leaning toward working with an out-of-area agent whom you love and trust, kindly ask them to refer you to a respected and experienced Sonoma Realtor. You'll be better served and your beloved agent will get a nice referral fee.
Find a Tech-Savvy Realtor
Even if you are a technophobe, in today's digital real estate world, it's essential to work with a Realtor who knows how to use the latest real estate technology tools. This is true for both listing agents and buyer's agents. Nearly all real estate today is marketed online. According to the National Association of Realtors, almost 90% of buyers and sellers are online for an average of 3 weeks before they even pick up the phone to call an agent. The N.A.R. says 25% of buyers find the property they eventually buy through their own online searches.
When it comes to selling your home, the more your listing agent knows about using smart phones (including texting) search engine optimization, drip marketing, electronic signatures, and QR Codes, the better equipped they are to get your property sold. Your listing agent should be able to provide you with periodic reports that show how many people are looking at your property online. They should also use only professional quality images of your property in all online marketing collateral because poor images quickly turn prospective buyers off and they simply don't come back.
A buyer's agent must be familiar with these tools to help you find and negotiate the purchase your next home. If you are not a heavy user of the Internet you should be able to rely on a tech-savvy agent to keep you updated on the latest new listings, open house opportunities, and property specific websites that might interest you. If you do use the Internet a lot, your techie agent can direct you to the best real estate websites where data is updated as rapidly as it is on the MLS. They'll also be able to tell you which real estate sites are a waste of your time due to outdated listing information and erroneous property valuations.
I'll have more in future articles about choosing a Sonoma Realtor. In the meantime if you have any questions about Sonoma real estate or want to comment on this article, please contact me.
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