When I first started – with no agents at all – my first order of business was to find one (which you can read about here – what a journey!). In my local market, there are quite a few brokers that advertise as “investor-friendly” firms, meaning (on the surface) that they work with investors. What it actually means, in practical terms, is that they provide a bunch of “value add” services like property management, remodeling services, and leasing services. The property search and transactions are really top-of-funnel activities for most of these brokers. I’m learning that it’s important to figure out which areas of the entire lifecycle these teams (and your agent) are really good at and where they aren’t very strong, which is why it’s important to work with multiple agents from different brokerages.
So how does that play out practically speaking? First, it’s important that you don’t sign a contract to work with any agent exclusively. In fact, if you have, you’re probably stuck for a period of time with the person you’re working with. Even if you found a property off-market, without the assistance of your agent, you may be on the hook to work with them so they get a commission (depending on your contract). In my experience, most investor-friendly agents don’t ask for an exclusive contract in my local market. Maybe the top-end agents do, but I haven’t found them (yet).
In my case, I have different agents looking for different kinds of properties and in different neighborhoods. For example, I work with an agent who has energy for days! He’s always looking out for single-family homes with specific criteria that would be good candidates to flip. He’s also looking specifically in areas where families with kids want to move to be in the area’s best school districts. I have another agent who only looks for small multi-unit homes (2-4 units) in one of three places – walkable neighborhoods with proximity to new restaurants & bars, local colleges & universities likely to attract students, and in close proximity to large local manufacturing companies.
As I continue I will most certainly work with additional agents who have experience and comfort working on larger deals, commercial deals, and even those who better understand the nuances of areas that I view as one large neighborhood but that is better viewed as two or three smaller adjoining clusters each with unique personalities. The other advantage to working with multiple agents is to have a good board to bounce ideas, to check your numbers (ARV & comps come to mind), and to help make introductions.