Tips for Picking the Right Realtor
Ready to sell or buy a new residence? You'll likely seek the expertise of a realtor to get you through the process from beginning to end, so choosing the right agent for the job is part of a successful outcome. Money will be exchanged, time will be spent, and your ultimate real estate satisfaction is on the line. These tips for picking the right realtor will guide you towards making a smart selection for your specific needs in the real estate game. Follow this advice for the best fit for you, your property of interest, and your means when it's time to open or close the door to the next chapter in your life.
While a fresh, green realtor may have lots of energy and go-getter pep to his or her step, it's a gamble to bet on a newbie unless there's a partner involved. Experience generally beats out the "eager beaver" when it comes to a good deal of money and valuable property on the line.
As per WikiHow, the ideal realtor has several years of experience under their belt. "Veteran real estate agents often have more contacts to help sell your home and more experience to help overcome obstacles."
Rick Harris, regional VP for the National Association of Realtors and owner of a Coldwell Banker's office told U.S. News & World Report Money, "For me, the first thing I want to know is how long have they been in the marketplace. Not just how many years, but how many buyers do they work with that have similar needs."
And Robert Irwin, author of "Tips & Traps When Buying a Home" was quoted on Bankratealerting readers, "If they haven't been in business 5 years, they're learning on you and that's not good." Your time and money should not be taken for granted for someone else to further their career.
In addition to experience, be sure your realtor is up-to-date with their credentials for their area of specialty and is certified legally. When it comes time to close the deal, you wouldn't want fraudulence or any other legal roadblocks coming between you and your sale or purchase.
Bankrate suggests, "Check with your state's regulatory body to find out if a prospective agent is licensed and if there have been any disciplinary actions or complaints. The information may be posted online."
Better to be safe than sorry!
While the "best in the biz" may be the realtor of your dreams, if he or she is on top of the world in Beverly Hills, your South Dakota home that's on the market may not be this realtor's gem.
Money notes, "Real estate is a local game, and to win you need someone who plays in the areas where you're looking to buy. Not only will they be up on market trends, they'll know about local schools, commute times, and under-the-radar red flags, like the solid-waste transfer station that's been proposed for the neighborhood."
Even with someone local, strive for a reputable and/or nationally-franchised real estate agency, as per WikiHow. "Bigger real estate offices generally have more resources for selling and marketing homes. When multiple agents work from one location, a greater number of people can spread the word about your home. And franchises tend to have bigger advertising budgets than independently-owned firms."
You'll need to rely on your realtor to make the most of their budget, so be sure the person or team you choose has the capability to stretch every dollar in your market. As per NerdWallet, "Having an agent with experience in the neighborhoods you're most interested in can save a lot of time and effort." Cotty Lowry of Keller Williams concurs, as per Kiplinger, "You want an agent who is 'intimately and passionately' familiar with your neighborhood."
Consumer Credit Counseling Serviceeven suggests to, "Drive through the neighborhoods where you are interested in buying. Look for "for sale" signs to identify which agents are listing the most homes in the area."
Anyone who's had success with a realtor is sure to give solid feedback and would highly recommend this person to work with you. Friends, family, neighbors, and colleagues are all good sources to help you land the right realtor.
Asking for references from the realtor is recommended as well. Any confident and professional agent will be happy to supply you with a few. WikiHow recommends to, "Ask your potential agent for a list of satisfied home sellers who completed real estate transactions with the agent and call 2 or 3 former customers to verify that the agent handled their home sale to their satisfaction."
Money adds, "Ask what portion of business comes from referrals or repeat business. If an agent mainly works on referrals or repeat business, that can be a positive indicator that prior clients were satisfied."
AndCredit.com notes, "You are leaving a lot to chance if you don't check out the past behavior of real estate agents. You should get references from an agent's three most recent clients and call them to verify that the agent is being truthful about his or her accomplishments."
With the reassurance that your realtor is on the ball, you won't sweat the small stuff as they work with and for you. Sure, it may take a little time to go through this process, but the wrong choice will cost you a lot more than a few hours of investigation.
What's the Plan?
A knowledgeable and resourceful agent will have a plan of attack to do the job the most efficiently. No dilly dallying, no secrets, and no time wasted.
WikiHow recommends asking for a marketing plan, for example. "A good Realtor will know how to price your house correctly to attract buyers. Your potential agent should know who your target audience is, have a recommended strategy for giving your home curb appeal and present a plan to market your house using multiple media outlets."
HGTV adds, "Running a few classified ads in the local paper, listing it on the Internet and holding an open house shouldn't be the only answers. The practitioner should be able to talk about what kinds of people are likely buyers and how he will reach out to those specific people."
The realtor should also make you aware of what you can do to. For instance, "A good salesperson will have expectations. He may want you to leave and take the dog when the house is shown, paint the garage, move some furniture around and scrub the tile in the bathroom. It shows that he can think like a buyer and that's a good thing," as per HGTV.
Additionally, find out how the agent plans to communicate with you and how often. As Money notes, "A communication lapse of a few hours can mean the difference between an accepted offer and a missed opportunity. With that in mind, choose an agent who responds quickly in the mode of communication that works for you, whether it's email, text, phone or fax."
With a plan you both agree on, your sale or purchase goals will be harmonious and tension-free. You will work together best with common strategy and little need for back and forth points of contention that can waste time, and in turn, money.
Now it's time to select a realtor who's the "real" deal! Good luck with your real estate sale or purchase!
Looking for a job? In addition to encountering those annoying never-ending job interviews you may find yourself face-to-face with an artificial intelligence bot.
Companies worldwide increasingly use artificial intelligence tools and analytics in employment decision-making – from parsing through resumes and screening candidates to automated assessments and digital interviews. But recent studies claim that AI does more harm than good.
While AI screening tools were developed to save companies time and money, they’ve been criticized for placing women and people of color at a disadvantage. The problem is that many companies lack appreciable diversity in their data set, making it impossible for an algorithm to know how people from underrepresented groups have performed in the past. As a result, the algorithm will be biased toward the data available and compare future candidates to that archetype.
The City’s Automated Employment Decision Tools (AEDT) law is designed to offset the potential misuse of AI and protect job candidates against discrimination. It was enforced on July 5th, 2023 in New York City - with other cities and states expected to gradually follow suit. Employers must now inform applicants when and how they encounter AI. Furthermore, companies have to commission a third-party audit of the AI software used, and publish a summary of the results to prove that their systems aren’t racist or sexist. Job applicants are able to request information regarding what data is collected and analyzed by the AI. Violations of the law can result in fines of up to $1,500.
Replacing Human Hiring Decisions
However, should a job applicant want to opt-out of such impersonal judgement by a bot, the new law's scope is quite limited.
While the law specifies that instructions for requesting an alternative selection process must be included in the AI screening disclosure, companies aren't actually required to use other screening methods. Not to mention that the law only applies to AI in hiring and not any other employment decisions. It also wouldn't apply if the AI, for example, flags candidates with relevant experience, but a human then reviews all applications, making the ultimate hiring decision.
Some civil rights advocates and public interest groups argue that the law isn’t extensive enough and that it’s even unenforceable. On the other hand, businesses say that it’s impractical, costly, and burdensome, and that independent audits aren’t feasible.
Responsible use of AI in hiring
Although this law may be a good first attempt to assign more regulatory guardrails around AI, it remains to be seen if it ensures the responsible use of AI in hiring processes. At the end of the day, perhaps recruiting talent should remain a human-made decision.
The good news is that AI can help companies without harming potential job candidates in many ways – such as connecting new employees with internal organizational information and company benefits during onboarding. Or helping employees to do their jobs more effectively rather than replacing them.
There’s all this talk about solo travel. And for good reason — no wasting precious time waiting for others to get their act together, take the plans out of the group chat and actually buy the tickets. Going solo, you can be spontaneous. You can plan your trips according to your precise tastes. You can hop on any flight and fly awayyyyyy.
But what if each time you flew you’d get a free ticket? That’s what you get with the Southwest Companion Pass.
Award status, upgrades, lounge access — there are many perks in the frequent flier game. But one of the coveted holy grails is the Southwest Companion Pass.
What is the Southwest Companion Pass?
The Companion Pass is part of Southwest’s Rapid Rewards program. You get to choose one person to be your “companion,” and they fly with you for free (plus some taxes and fees) on every flight. That’s right. Two for the price of one. That’s half off each ticket if you split it! Whether you’re flying with a partner, family member, friend, or anyone else, they can tag along for free.
And it gets better: once you earn the pass, you can reap the rewards for that full calendar year … AND the next. That’s why people go mad trying to earn a companion pass during the early months of the year. The sooner you qualify, the longer you can use it.
There are also no blackout dates. There are no limits. And if you didn’t purchase the ticket (think: work travel, your companion, or a generous benefactor), there are no restrictions! As long as you’re the one on the plane, your companion can also … be on the plane.
You can also switch out your designated companion 3x a year. So, no need to stay in a relationship simply to get the most out of your companion pass! Ghost and fly away — with a whole new companion!
If this sounds too good to be true — it’s not. But there is one small catch. It’s kinda tough to earn this mega reward.
How to qualify for the Southwest Companion Pass?
You can qualify for the pass in one of two ways:
- Fly 100 qualifying one-way flights
- Earn 135,000 qualifying points in a calendar year.
Clearly, this is no small feat — especially if you’re trying to qualify ASAP.
So how do you actually earn the Southwest Companion Pass?
Don’t worry, there’s a path to earning this amazing reward without climbing on 100 flights or spending an exorbitant amount of money.
Earning 135K reward points may seem completely impossible, but it’s easier than it sounds. Simply sign up for a Southwest Credit Card and turn those spending habits into a rapid rewards account. Through the Rewards Priority Credit Card, earn points when using local transit and commuting, plus score major points and miles whenever you spend.
Stay with me here. This is not some scheme to get you into credit card debt. Many airline cards come with potential savings, giantic rewards, awarding you points, and cashback with every purchase you make that can be redeemed for travel. And often they can come with passive sign-up bonuses. If you spend a specific amount of money within a certain timeframe of opening the card, you can be in for a windfall of points.
Now that’s where the companion pass comes in:
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card
- Southwest Priority Credit Card
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Credit Card
- Southwest Performance Business Credit Card
Southwest has three personal cards and a business card. Each of these cards offers rewards between 30K-80K points. In the past, people could open two cards and get a bonus that granted enough points to almost meet the minimum. However, with new restrictions on personal cards, you can only get one bonus every 24 months. Boo!
However, this doesn’t apply to business cards. If you’re eligible, have good credit, and not likely to spiral into insane credit card debt, you can open a business card and a personal card, and accrue 100K+ points. The Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card will get you points after you spend money in no time.
Now to earn the rest of them.
The secret to gaining these credit card points is to plan your card sign-ups around big purchases. Just before a recent move, I opened a card . . . and the rewards came rolling in — a small balm to ease the pain of how exorbitant moving can be.
Put everyday spend — especially big purchases or bulk items — on your Southwest credit card and watch your award points quickly add up. Typically, you earn 1 point per $1 spent on your Southwest card and 2 points per $1 on actual Southwest purchases.
But there are other ways to earn points, including:
- Flying Southwest: Booking travel on Southwest earns more points. The cost of this travel will be worth it with your companion pass
- Shopping from Rapid Rewards Partners: Purchases with Southwest’s “Home & Lifestyle” and “Shop and Dine” Partners also earn Companion Pass qualifying points. While you shouldn’t make gratuitous purchases, browse Southwest’s partners to see if you could earn extra points for items you'd be purchasing anyway. All this, simply from enrolling in their Dining Program and shopping with their partners.
So there you have it! And since it’s almost Spring, get to earning and soon you’ll be flying two for the price of one!