The focus of this brief article is on helping prospective Buyers find a good Real Estate Agent. A future article will focus on providing information to prospective Sellers.
Since the large majority of people looking to make a real estate purchase start their search on the Internet, this article makes the assumption that the prospective buyer is in fact searching on the Internet and as a result, any Real Estate Agent who does not have an Internet presence is automatically eliminated from the buyer's consideration.
You can break this brief guide into 3 distinct realms or categories.
1. Communication - The beginning point for any prospective buyer is obviously finding an Agent who speaks the same language that you do. If you do not speak Hebrew, then find an Agent that speaks and understands your native language well. Along these same lines, it's important to find an Agent who responds to your questions within a reasonable time-frame. The only way you can determine this is to obviously begin some kind of communication with the Agent. If the Agent does not respond to your inquiries within in a reasonable period of time, move on to the next Agent.
2. Information - Especially with a large scale purchase such as Real Estate, Buyers need as much information as possible to help decide if they are in fact interested in a specific property. The more information, the better. Information about the apartment or villa itself, the building, the neighborhood, etc. This certainly holds true with photos as well, the more photos you can view, the better. Maybe even a Virtual Tour of the property. If the Agent is not willing to obtain additional photos for you if asked, then it's time to move on to the next property or the next Agent. The Agent you choose should also be able to educate you about Real Estate Laws, zoning information, tax issues, etc. or be able to put you in touch with someone like an Attorney or other Industry professional who can assist you. A good Agent will have a team of people that he can refer you to for "specialized" assistance.
3. Qualifications of the Agent - In Israel, Real Estate Agents are required to pass an Exam and are issued licenses by the Ministry of Justice. Make sure that the Agent you are in touch with has his or her Israeli Real Estate License. Find out how much experience the Agent has in the Real Estate business in Israel. If the Agent is relatively new in the business, determine if a more experienced Agent like the owner of that particular Agency will also be involved in overseeing the Agent's activities. Find out if the Agent is a member of a Professional Real Estate organization such as the Jerusalem Chamber of Real Estate Brokers. These organizations usually provide Continuing Education to their members and you want to know that your Agent is trying to stay educated about all of the latest trends, laws, etc.
These are just some basic guidelines for helping you narrow your choices down when selecting a Real Estate Agent to work with. Trust is a very important element in working with your Real Estate agent, so even if your Agent passes the tests mentioned above, don't forget to rely on your natural instincts. If you have questions or are uncomfortable with any aspect of your relationship with your Agent, the information they provide or their professional conduct, discuss it with them.
For additional information or suggestions, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org