Real estate professionals provide advice on choosing a broker

Real estate is one of the driving forces of the Martha’s Vineyard economy. The Martha’s Vineyard Times asked several real estate professionals about their business. This is the first in a series of question and answer conversations.

Q: What steps would you advise a property owner to take when he or she is choosing a broker or a real estate agency?

Lisa Stewart, owner/broker, Lighthouse Properties: You’re building a relationship with both the individual and the agency. You should think the broker is knowledgeable and you should have good chemistry. You have to develop trust. Do you feel you can trust me and my advice is credible? Do I seem to truly care about you and not about the money? It’s not about presenting a glossy marketing folder. Our clientele responds to us because of who we are and to our commitment to serve their needs.

Neal Stiller, broker/office manager, Cronig’s Real Estate: You should look for someone full-time and experienced. Lots of people just got started and many work part-time. Often people choose someone because they’re a friend or a relative. I think you should look for experience in both the agent and in the company.

Leslie Pearlson, co-owner/broker, Tea Lane Associates: Look at the range of properties they represent. Does your property fit in? Look at the type and level of advertising they produce — do you like what it looks like in print and online? Look at their history on the Island. Do you feel comfortable with the agents in the office and with the style or culture of the company? How are you treated? Look for a good fit. You should feel satisfied with how the agency educates you about the market, and how they will market your property.

Judy Federowicz, Coldwell Banker Landmarks Real Estate: You should look for the REALTOR® designation. It means that the individual has taken more courses and has made a bigger commitment to their business. Everyone is licensed as either a salesperson or a broker, but the REALTOR® means they’ve taken a step further in their professional development. Look for an agent who is experienced in the market. It’s a buyer’s market now so you want to get good advice and make sure your property is priced properly. As a seller, you have control over only the condition of the house and the price, so you want the best advice on both.

Art Smadbeck, partner/broker, Priestley Smadbeck and Mone Real Estate: Try to get a referral from someone who’s used someone on the Island. Get a recommendation from someone you know.

Alan Schweikert, owner/broker, Ocean Park Realty: Choose someone who is active in your specific area. Don’t choose me for Gay Head. Choose someone who knows the town intimately and has done a lot of sales there. Make sure he or she knows the zoning and how the town is governed. Meet with two or three brokers. Judge the person, the chemistry you feel. Do I want to work with this person for nine months to a year? Are they responsive? Do they give me feedback? A lot of time and loyalty? Or are they too busy for me? Get references.