There are many things to consider when looking for a Real Estate Agent, but the most important advertisement any person should rely on is "positive word of mouth". Make sure you ask your friends and colleagues about their experiences when buying or selling, as this will give you a great benchmark of service.
Pre-requisites for Real Estate agents in our market are simply:
Trust – Experience – Reliability
Your agent should have a broad understanding of how buying and selling transactions are handled. You also want someone who is reliable and does what they say they will. Lastly, you will need to know that you can trust your agent to give you the best advice. You will be relying on them to guide you in purchasing your single largest investment-your home, or a "family vacation retreat" which will be handed down from generation to generation.
By working with one agent who is a member of CIREBA (the Cayman Islands Real Estate Brokers Association) they have access to all the resources that CIREBA offers, including 1.4 Billion Dollars worth of properties and over 1600 listings. As CIREBA members, there is already a level of trust and cooperation amongst the agents. Sticking with one agent also eliminates confusion and frustration in the marketplace as there aren't multiple individuals trying to garner the same information and wasting your time. After all, do you seek the advice of multiple attorneys? Do you have more than one GP? Generally no, you go to someone who knows you and someone you trust.
This means you should only work with one agent. Many times buyers will call several agents and inquire about their respective listings. As the agent wants to provide a complete service, they generally go the extra mile and do research for the buyer, unaware that the buyer is working with another agent, who is also doing the same amount of research and work. By using only one agent you will save yourself a lot of trouble and time. And, if you do call another agent for information, you should disclose that you currently have an agent who is already working with you.
Sticking with one agent also helps to build relationships that can span over generations and family members. An agent will get to know you and your family, as well as your needs and investment plans, and be able to look out for things that are of particular interest to you. They will know your likes and dis-likes, your financial capabilities and are the keepers of copious amounts of personal information. Information that you would only want one person in this market to be privy to.
It can take anywhere from 20-100 hours after you make contact for your agent to see your purchase through (keep in mind that not all negotiations close.) In that duration of time your agent is working hard and compiling research to ensure that you are receiving information on the best opportunities. This can range from paying a visit to Lands and Survey, to obtaining copies of covenants, photographs, inventories, past sales history, etc., the list goes on. All of which takes time. The Real Estate industry is based on results vs. salaries. So, if you have been working with an agent on something that does not come to fruition, no harm done, as you will hopefully continue to work with this person in the future. However, should you use another agent, your agent will never be able to re-coop the time and money spent working with you. Plus you will now have to establish a level of trust with someone new, and start at the beginning.
So next time you see a property and think, I'll just call the number on the sign, think of your Real Estate Agent who has worked with you in the past and is waiting for an opportunity to continue their relationship with you.