If you are like I was, you probably have questions about how to pick a real estate agent to help find a home and invest in Puerto Vallarta. Here is my “Do’s and Don’ts” list to use as a guide and help ensure that you work with the very best agent!
Word of mouth can certainly be a good start, but if you ask one hundred people for their realtor suggestion then you will likely get one hundred recommendations! I call this the “friend syndrome” where everyone recommends their favorite agent. There are a myriad of reasons including “she’s nice” to “we’ve become friends”. These are not bad traits to have, but this is business, a big investment in your portfolio and in your future lifestyle! You want to work with a pro, not just somebody’s friend.
So, while we all appreciate working with nice, friendly people, in the end it is the voice of experience, discernable knowledge and intelligence that matters. It is also important to have an agent to really listen to what you want and a “go the extra mile” attitude from your real estate agent. It is a skilled agent that can help you make a sound, educated decision.
Let’s take a look at some qualities that mark Puerto Vallarta’s best agents and why they are important:
- “Experience”- while this perhaps sounds like an endorsement for old agents, it’s actually not. It’s not really “how many years” your realtor has been in the business. It is a feeling you get when you speak with your potential agent that they are true “students of the game” with a drive to be the best. I’ve met many the agent who has been in real estate here in Mexico for decades who are semi-retired, know little about updates in the legal system and rarely leave their own neighborhood. Contrarily, the mark of some of the best agents is not their age, but, rather is a dedication to increasing their knowledge of how to find you a home that fits your needs and is true to its value. Most importantly, a great agent has the skills, tenacity and strategies to get you the best price. Work with an “experienced” agent, no matter their age.
- “Knowledge and intelligence”- let’s face it, your Mexico real estate agent is like a river- guide leading you on whitewater expedition down a river you’ve never been on before. I love Mexico and made it my permanent home here some 20 years ago, but investing here involves many differences (not the least of which is language). It is essential to have someone that can explain in clear and concise terms the what you should- or should not- do when considering owning a home in PV. “Knowledge is power” and you need to hear it in understandable terms from someone that studies all facets of their job. For example, did you know that how you purchase will likely greatly impact your taxes when you sell? How about your heirloom furniture, can you bring it down duty-free? Your car? Work with someone clearly informed and insightful. Combined with the last “experienced” dissertation, you might think “Smart and wise” for traits in your perspective agent.
- “A great listener”- while it’s great to have a smart, experienced agent, perhaps equally important is that your prospective agent make every effort to learn why you want to own here. Frankly, every client has different desires, and an agent more interested in rattling off a canned speech or showing you what they want to sell is missing the point. Nothing else matters more than an agent that makes the effort to get to know you and what you really want. For many of our clients, owning in Mexico has been a dream of theirs made possible through decades of hard work! Owning here can truly be a dream come true and many are literally brought to tears when the open the door of their own home in Mexico. In summary, you should feel a connection with the agent you work with. They get you. While other qualities could be measured, this is a quality you will feel more emotionally. A bond. A sense of trust.
- “A go-the-extra-mile” attitude. There’s simply no substitute for hard work and a “try hard” guy will often have all of the previously mentioned qualities. He tries hard to know the market, he tries hard to be well-researched on both prices and lifestyles that certain locations have, he tries hard to listen intently to why you want a PV home, and tries hard to spend as much time as necessary to be a true help to you in your decision-making process. A common trait I notice in many great agents is they often can bring a lot of fun and adventure to the process! They “know their stuff” and it’s fun to show off this wonderful town and share it with soon-to-be owners.
- Lastly, unmentioned until now, I would work only with members of our real estate association here called “AMPI”. These agents receive dozens of hours of training every year, must pass tests and are held to a high standard with an honor and justice committee overseeing its members. It’s simply the best group of agents that clear a higher bar, another sign of a “Try hard” agent.
So how do you start? Here’s a few ideas that you can get started on long before you come to PV to shop:
- Google “Puerto Vallarta Real Estate” or something similar and check out agents and agencies. Each seems to have its specialty, its style. Avoid the sites that say “ad” with their website- anybody can buy top spots, you want the “organic” sites that top agencies have earned by lots of loyal clients visiting their sites. Read the bios of the agents and write some of their email addresses. Write all of them a form letter with your desires and see who gets back to you in a reasonable amount of time with thoughtful answers.
- Even before you travel try to set up 15 minutes where you can chat with the agent by phone long before you arrive. Words on a page are nice but speaking by phone with someone is better for getting the gut feeling you have chosen the right person. Go off the beaten path and ask about health care or charities they are involved with. Trust your “gut”. It’s like when you pull on the right jeans, you will know when it’s a good fit.
- Then pick the agent that you like best and begin your journey online. Ask them to set up a custom property search before you arrive. Set up “black-out” dates where this agent can give you their undivided attention when you are here to tour properties and talk about owning here. Then, by the time you arrive, you have a great person to work with, a schedule, and some good possibilities for properties that you would enjoy visiting. From my experiences, this is the system that gives you the best chance to get a place (and a lifestyle) you really love here in Puerto Vallarta!
Lastly, don’t forget to build in some “me time”. There’s really not a lot of things better than taking in a Vallarta sunset with your favorite drink in hand!