My wife and I recently moved to San Jose in April of this year with the plan of buying a house. We knew nothing about the area or the local real estate market so our home buying process started by visiting open houses. This process took us 4 months and we visited close to 75 homes. During that time we interacted with many real estate agents, all of whom attempted to sell their services to us. We welcomed the "solicitations" because it was our intention to use this time as an opportunity to not only learn about the local real estate market but also to informally interview real estate agents so that we could choose the best person to find our next home for us.
Our search for a real estate agent started with my wife and I sitting down and determining what qualities we were looking for in an agent. We of course wanted our agent to be extremely knowledgeable of the local real estate market, someone who had knowledge of the different areas such as Cupertino, Saratoga, Sunnyvale, Santa Clara, Willow Glen, etc. and could find the best fit for our work commutes and personal needs such as lifestyle and budgetary considerations. However, most importantly we wanted to work with an honest person that would have our best interests at heart and not view us as just another transaction.
We first met Steve Armstrong about three months into our process at an open house he was holding and immediately my wife and I both felt very comfortable with him. Out of approximately 75 homes and agents we met, Steve was one of only two agents that made us both say as we were walking out of the house, "hey, I think we should consider working with that agent." Our first impression was that Steve seemed like a very honest and straight forward individual...one of the good guys. He was also very knowledgeable about the different neighborhoods and school systems around San Jose. Steve was also the only agent who offered us a portion of his commission in hopes of getting our business. In fact, I remember him saying, "I'm sure a lot of agents have offered their services to you but I am prepared to offer you part of my commission if you will consider working with me." We thought this was a very unique offer that demonstrated a lot of commitment on his part. His offer initially made us stop and think about the financial side of choosing an agent but quite honestly it was not the determining factor for us. We essentially chose Steve because he seemed like the most honest and sincere agent we met. With that said, in the end, Steve’s commission credit ultimately bridged the gap between the top price we were prepared to pay for our home and the price the sellers were willing to accept.
Choosing Steve turned out to be a great decision. He started by casting a wide net and exposing us to several areas around San Jose in which he thought we might have interest. After carefully listening to our feedback on recommended homes we visited he quickly helped us to narrow our search to one zip code and one neighborhood that best fit our needs. Steve was very proactive at scouring the available inventory for us and was extremely communicative. He was almost always available when called and always returned messages in a very timely manner...a true professional.
When we finally found a home that we wanted to purchase Steve's thorough knowledge of the business, intelligent approach and calm demeanor turned what could have been a frustrating transaction into a pleasant experience. We were attempting to purchase a home for significantly lower than asking price in a market that was still fairly competitive. Because of this our negotiations took several twists and turns and required a great deal of diplomacy in order to work out in our favor. Steve's approach in how he positioned our offer was extremely well thought out, well organized and fact based. In addition, Steve's ability to develop a good rapport with the selling agent was instrumental in helping us to secure a deal for the price that we wanted.
It is also very important to note that Steve has a strong financial background from working in the mortgage banking industry for a good part of his career. This experience turned out to be invaluable for us. The current environment in the banking industry makes it more challenging to secure a home loan and to close escrow in a timely fashion. Steve's ability to help us work through the approval process and to communicate with the banks and speak their language made the process a lot smoother and saved us a lot of time and frustration.
I have bought and sold 3 different homes in my life and worked with several real estate agents and I can say without a doubt Steve has been the best agent I have ever worked with. There are times when you feel like an agent approaches you as just another transaction. With Steve we felt as though he was always looking out for our best interest.