What to Look for In Your Seller's Agent
- An agent who is extremely knowledgeable and experienced in the Smith Mountain Lake real estate market. Ask your agent if they own a home on the lake and whether the lake is their focus. How many lakefront homes have they sold and over what period of time? Many agents that focus on surrounding areas, such as Roanoke and Lynchburg will attempt to service clients at SML. That’s an injustice to you and using one puts you at a significant disadvantage relative to lake focused agents. While the value of homes may be similar to surrounding markets, lot values at the lake vary substantially and it is not difficult to overpay for a property or end up with a location that is less than desirable or does not meet your needs. For example, if you plan to rent your new home on a short term basis, beware that rental rules very significantly in each of the three counties that border the lake.
- An agent that can show you properties in the way you will use them. When purchasing a lakefront property, there are two physical approaches to the property. One is by road and one is by boat. Ask your agent if they are able to show you properties by boat as well as by car. Without that, it can be very difficult to understand what the approach looks like by water.
- An agent who is highly versed in the Smith Mountain Lake Shoreline Management Plan (SMP). The SMP is the lake operator’s rules (AEP’s rules) on what can and cannot be done on YOUR shoreline. That includes dock construction and even vegetation removal. There are stories of people purchasing properties and finding out after closing that they can’t modify an existing dock as desired or can’t even build one! It’s critical to understand the existing status of the shoreline and dock prior to closing on any lakefront property or you could inherit substantial liabilities from a prior owner. It’s a potential minefield that only an experienced lake agent can help you navigate to ensure you are making a sound investment.
- An agent with real world business experience. Ask about the professional history of your agent. Do they have real world experience in industry putting together business deals? Are they an experienced negotiator? What experience do they have writing contracts in and outside or real estate? Any agent can grab standard forms and add an address and names. Can they explain the contract details and highlight items that may be important to you and how you plan to use the property? Are they experienced at adding additional nonstandard language to protect your interests?
- An agent that can put modern technology to work for you. Information is knowledge and knowledge leads to success. Your agent should be able to go well beyond printing prior listings from the MLS. The the raw MLS data can be a wealth of powerful information. Your agent should be able to extract the data and present it in an ACCURATE way that puts you at an advantage relative to other buyers. I have seen many agents over the years provide inaccurate reports and information to clients, because of a lack of understanding of the data and how to export it and properly process it into meaningful reports.
- An agent that is responsive to your inquiries and shows a high level of integrity. How long does it take for your agent to respond to voicemail messages, e-mails, and text messages? It should go without saying, but it’s just not always the case with everyone, is your agent focused on YOUR best interests. Will they tell you the negative aspects of a property that they see in addition to the good? Will they treat our search and eventual real estate transaction as if it were there own.