How to Choose a Real Estate Agent

Laurie WallBuying and Selling

Whether you’re a first-time home buyer or are selling your home or property, choosing a good real estate agent is an important decision. The real estate agent that you choose will most likely become the most important person in your life through your buying or selling journey. They will help make your experience a positive one, offering expertise and help every step of the way.

When it comes to making a decision on which real estate agent is best for you, you have a lot of choices. But it isn’t always as easy as it may seem to find someone that you can trust and have success with. So, how do you choose the right agent for the job?

Choosing an Agent

These days, there is no shortage of real estate agencies. But just because you have many to choose from doesn’t mean it’s easier to find an agent that fits the bill. You want to find an agent that will have your best interests at heart throughout the entire process and will do everything they can to get you what you need. To do that, you will most likely need to do some research of your own.

Learn More: Home Selling Secrets

Research

Real Estate Agent - two women in an interview or meetingThere are certain things that are more important and valuable than others when it comes to choosing the right real estate agent. Luckily, most agents have their own websites that should include some important information for you to use as your starting point when narrowing down your choices. While researching online could make your decision a bit more confusing, it can also be extremely helpful. Here’s what you should look for:

Years of Experience

Generally speaking, at least three years of experience is a good rule-of-thumb when hiring a real estate agent. If you are looking at someone who doesn’t have much experience, make sure they have the knowledge and the resources to properly market your property. Since new agents are usually pretty eager for business, you may not want to rule them out right away. While they don’t have the experience that a seasoned agent does, they may have more time to give you the personalized attention you need or are looking for. On the other hand, you may prefer a more seasoned agent, someone who has more experience with buying and selling homes.  

Real Estate Agent - Man hanging keys to home to coupleNumber of Homes Sold

A successful real estate agent will be proud to show you the number of homes they have sold. Looking at the years of experience they have in the business and the number of homes they’ve sold will help you see whether or not they have had a successful career. If they have been in the game for many years but don’t have many homes to their name, that should be a red flag. While there could be several reasons for this, don’t be afraid to ask them about it. You want an agent who is completely dedicated to you and the journey you’re on.

Reviews

Reviews can be helpful in determining an agents’ success in selling and how they treat their clients. Keep in mind, the critiques can give you helpful insight, but they shouldn’t be the end-all-be-all for choosing or not choosing a particular agent. Different people can have very different experiences and opinions. That’s why the more reviews you can gather, the better. When searching, try and find reviews that are recent and that go into the specifics of why the reviewer would or would not recommend a particular agent. These tend to be much more helpful than reviews with only stars or vague comments.

Proper Credentials and Licensing

Before you start working with an agent, it would be a good idea to check their credentials. Real estate agents are legally required to be licensed through each state they work in. This information is usually easily accessible online, and allows you to check to see if a certain agent is properly licensed and if they have any disciplinary actions or complaints against them.

Real Estate Agent - front view of luxury homePrice Range of Homes Sold

When narrowing your searches, you should choose an agent that has experience selling homes within your price range. If you’re not in the market to buy or sell a luxury home, choosing an agent who primarily works with these types of homes probably isn’t the right agent for you. On the other hand, an agent who only has experience selling smaller homes may not have the knowledge it takes to sell a much larger and more expensive luxury home. Choose someone who knows what it takes to sell your home or buy the home that is right for you.

Past Clients

A lot of people have real estate agents referred to them by past clients. Maybe the past clients are your friends or family members. If this is you, ask them for their opinions of the agent and the ease of the overall process and experience. Were they easy to work and communicate with? Did they enjoy the agent’s personality, motivation, and work ethic? Would they use them again for their next home? All of these questions are great to consider when using an agent that you don’t know.

Current Listings

Check out the agency’s website or Realtor.com to search databases to see how many current listings the agent has. With this information you will be able to see if they have properties in close proximity to your location and price range. This will also indicate how successful his or her business is. You want your agent to have a healthy, thriving business, but you also want them to have time to work with you.

Learn More: 6 Tips for First Time Homebuyers

Real Estate Agent - Three women in interviewInterview Several Agents

Let’s face it, there are many people we have immediate connections with and many we don’t. Before choosing an agent, meet with and interview several to see if you have the kind of relationship that will be beneficial to you on your buying or selling journey. Don’t just limit yourself to one interview – choose two or three. Remember, you are the one who is hiring them to perform a service for you. If you get the feeling they are the ones running the interview, call it a day. You will be working very closely with this person for as long as it takes. While you’re meeting with prospective agents, they should be able to willingly and easily answer the following questions:

  • How long have they been in the real estate business?
  • Which market/neighborhood is their primary focus?
  • What is their buying and selling process?
  • Have they ever had a complaint filed against them in any state? (Their answer should match the information you found online.)
  • What is their average number of transactions per year?
  • What is their schedule and availability?
  • How many clients are they currently working with?

When a real estate agent comes to your interview, he or she should have a comparable market analysis in hand. This shows homes similar to yours in location, size and amenities that have either sold or are on the market. This report should have current data, within the last 3-6 months. If you are new to the area, they should be familiar with its schools, crime rates, entertainment venues and other helpful lifestyle information. They should be advocates for where they are working and have above-average knowledge about the real estate industry in general.

Real Estate Agent - aerial view of neighborhoodTake a Look Around

Look around your current or desired neighborhood and surrounding areas to see who has the most listing signs. If there is one realtor that seems to stand out from the rest, it may be worth an interview. Since they are already working in your area, they would most likely be knowledgeable in your market and know just how to help you. Talk to your neighbors who have bought or sold recently to see how they liked their realtor.

Set Expectations

The expectations you have for your real estate agent should be high. After all, you’ll be working very closely with them until your buying or selling process is over. You should expect competence, professional service and attitude, and dedication. They should be willing and able to take care of your needs and not merely think about their commission. Keep your expectations high, but keep them realistic. For example, don’t expect your agent to become your lawyer or financial advisor. Let them do what they do best. Choosing the right real estate agent will make your life much easier while you go through the buying or selling journey.

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