Easing the Pain of Relocation

June Fletcher of RealEstateJournal.com answers a reader’s question of whether they should use the same agent for sale and purchase in different states?  Her reader, Maria Costa is selling land in Central Florida and moving to Lexington, KY.  Ms. Fletcher points out that the old adage, "location, location, location" is never more important than when you are relocating as market familiarity is key to a successful transaction in both locales.

The keyword here is "local." Despite the fact that most buyers begin looking for property on the Internet, and just about every broker and agent has a Web presence these days, much of the work agents do is based on hometown knowledge, like knowing which local media pull the best responses or which appraisers are the most professional and reliable. Plus, whatever agent you choose must be close enough to your place to show it to buyers on short notice.

What else does Ms. Fletcher suggest should you consider when buying and selling in different states?

  • Licensing-it’s highly unlikely that an agent would be licensed in both your current state and that to which you are moving…possible…but not likely.
  • Disregard Affiliations-I think the agent whom you hire is much more important than the company for which they work.
  • Seek Specialization-Even if you’re moving within the same city, it’s often a good bet to use an agent to sell your home who specializes in your immediate area.  Similarly, you should buy with an agent who has expertise in the neighborhood to which you are moving.
  • Consider Renting-I also agree that renting in the "new" city is a wise move particularly if you are unfamiliar with the area. 

I agree with this advice but would add that if you have an agent in your current market with whom you are very satisfied, consider asking them for assistance in the form of an "active" referral to your new market.  What do I mean by an "active" referral?  All too often, I see colleagues refer their clients to markets across the country and around the world, only to make an initial phone call and "drop the ball" after handing their client off to an agent in the destination city hoping that their referral will pay dividends despite their lack of involvement.  An "active" referral in my opinion is one from an agent whom you trust in your current marketplace who plays an active role in assisting you with the selection of an agent in your destination city who will treat you as you’re used to being treated by the referring agent.  Your referring agent should act as a liaison to make sure that you are getting the attention and treatment that would be expected of a professional in your destination city. 

So my advice to those relocating from state to state (or maybe even those moving within the same city but changing neighborhoods) is to find the "Right" agent.  Take the time to interview multiple agents in your current location to find someone you can trust and who  you believe has your best interest in mind.  Also be sure to ask them if they can help you find someone like themselves in your new city.  As Ms. Fletcher points out:

…plenty of other factors matter, too: intangible ones like honesty and integrity and practical ones like experience and a good network of local industry professionals such as buyer agents, lenders, inspectors and remodelers.

Once you have found an agent who exhibits these qualities in your current market place, consider allowing them to actively participate in your relocation to your destination city.  If they truly have your best interest in mind, they won’t mind working with you to insure a smooth transition with your relocation.  Nothing wrong with an agent actually "earning" a referral fee for a relocating client.  After all, a typical referral fee is 25% of the the destination city agent’s commission.  Precisely why your referring agent should add some value to your transition!

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