How to Choose the Right Real Estate Agent

Choosing to buy or sell a home is one of the most important financial decisions you will make in your lifetime. Finding the right real estate agent can save you time, effort and frustration whether you are searching for your dream home at the right price or selling your current home quickly, hopefully for top dollar.

When you decide that you are ready to buy or sell, selecting a realtor to represent you can seem overwhelming. Despite that, asking questions and doing a little legwork go a long way in finding the real estate professional who best suits your needs.

Referrals

Ask someone you trust and who has bought or sold a home recently for a recommendation. The experience your friend or family member had with a particular realtor will be a good indicator as to your own satisfaction with that agent. Referrals are an extremely important part of a real estate agent’s success; so, if a realtor knows that he or she has been personally recommended to you by a past client, it is likely that that agent will go the extra mile to give you the same quality experience.

Experience & Credentials

Look for a realtor with a lot of experience. More importantly, look for one who has experience in the location and the price range where you are looking to purchase or sell. A professional with that specific background will be current on the area’s market and either help you differentiate between a good and bad home to buy or a price that facilitates a speedy sale if you are selling.

Consider choosing an agent who is a Realtor®, as well. Along with being licensed by the state to sell real estate, Realtors belong to the National Association of Realtors and must follow a strict code of ethics.

Interview

When you meet a prospective agent, ask questions! You are hiring that person to do a job, so it is imperative to be selective. Ask these questions, and listen for answers that line up with the ones below:

Is this your full-time job? A realtor whose primary job responsibility is helping people buy and sell homes will most likely have more ongoing, up-to-the minute market knowledge. Someone who sells only two homes per year is probably not working on a full-time basis.

May I see your references? As with any job candidate, a real estate professional will highlight positive references. Try to gain an idea of what it is like to work with the agent daily throughout the process of finding and making an offer for a home.

How many clients are you currently serving? There is no single, “correct” answer. If the realtor you’re considering has 25 listings and is working with 10 buyers, that may indicate that his or her attention will be divided. On the other hand, working with too few clients could suggest that the agent is inexperienced, not highly recommended or not giving enough time to the job. You will need to determine how this factor might affect the level of service you will be receive.

How are you going to market my house (if you’re a seller)? Does the real estate agent utilize print and online advertising? Does the agent have a purposeful marketing strategy for listings which includes, for instance, open houses on a regular basis? The answers to these questions will help you understand how an agent is successful in sales.

Bottom line: find out what your agent is going to do for you and how they’re going to do it. A good real estate agent is going to know the market, communicate in a timely manner, strategize with clients on offers, and put a client’s needs above their paycheck. Don’t be afraid to ask the questions that will determine if your needs will be met!

Looking for more information on buying a home? Our handbook, Mortgage 101, is the ultimate guide for first-time home buyers.

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