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The Kathy O'Neal Team

Real Estate in Chantilly Blog


If you are using the Internet to select a real estate agent, this series is for you. We have been offering guidelines to help you navigate toward your best choice of agent in Northern Virginia, or anywhere else.

Brief recap:  I started by suggesting you should first know the level and depth of experience of the prospective agent.  Then we considered the matter of solo agent vs a team.  From there we went to the issue of quality.

Last time around I offered personal chemistry as an important selection factor.  By that I was referring to the need to feel some measure of personal comfort that this is someone you can comfortably work with.

This time I will offer personal integrity as the most important criterion of all.

This one, in my view, is the heart and soul of really exceptional real estate service, or just about any other service.  If you don’t have full trust and confidence in the honesty and transparency of someone you are working with, especially in a transaction that involves a big financial commitment, what’s the point?

The events of the past few years should make clear just how critical integrity is at every level.  From the state of a nation, to the state of your real estate transaction, integrity is foundational.  What good is anything else if the person you are working with is not rock-solid in their integrity?

That said, you do have to consider more than character in making this choice.  As with any of the other criteria, you could find a deeply honest and integrity-based person, but not have a great experience, or get a great result.  I have been emphasizing that these selection factors are a “system.”   They work together, and to make a great agent choice, you need to consider them all.

Integrity can have a much more involved definition, but I am thinking of it in a straight-forward way.  From my perspective it means that this is a person who is entirely honest in all their dealings, will always tell you the full truth, will be diligent and careful to always put your financial well-being ahead of any personal gain, and will behave in a manner that inspires confidence in their trustworthiness from start to finish.

This is the person who will always give you their honest view on properties, and won’t even come close to creating the feeling that you are getting a “sales pitch.” Their primary concern is your best interest and it shows in how they give advice and use whatever influence you allow them to have.

The real issue here is not simply how the person behaves.  It is who and what they are.  Integrity is not a skill to be learned.  It comes from the depth of a person’s heart.

So how do you make a sound judgment on this factor?  In truth, you can’t know some things until you can judge from the experience of working with someone.  But you can do a number of things.  For example, you can talk to their references.  You can also do what I suggested earlier…make contact and request a brief time to meet.  Not a thing wrong with telling the agent that you are meeting with several people because you want to make a good choice.  

If you do have a conversation, you can also just ask about their approach to ethics and integrity.  Sure, no one will say, “Glad you asked.  I am not the most ethical person around!”  But you can get a sense of how much they have thought about the role of integrity in their business by how they answer.  

Most consumers do not make their agent choice with this much care.  And that is precisely why you will be at a big advantage if you apply these criteria and make a choice that is first-class.

If you have followed the steps I have previously offered, you will be in a good position to use your intuitive judgment, aided by the factual data and impressions you have gathered.  The sum total of your “due diligence” so far will probably be more helpful than any direct questions you ask about integrity.

It can be a genuine loss for consumers who wind up with someone who does not match their preferences or who is simply not as experienced and skilled as they would have liked.  Why risk that?  With a little effort you can make a great choice.  

If you’d like to see this series in video, visit our VIDEO CENTER and scroll down to “The Right Real Estate Agent for You.”

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