Finding The Right Real Estate Agent
The right real estate agent can make a huge difference when it comes to buying or selling your house.
Posted: October 14, 2019 by Joe Carelli
Buying and selling houses takes a lot of effort and time, a real estate agent can make the process go much more smoothly. If you’re ready to sell your house, or you are about to jump into the house hunting pool, there are a lot of options to consider before you even begin. If you’re selling, you might be wondering how much you can get for your property, when’s the best time to list it, or if you need to make any repairs first. If you’re searching for a new home, you need to know what neighborhoods you want to look in, how much you can spend, and how fast you need to find your new place.
The number of decisions you will face, whether you are buying or selling, is massive, to say the least. One choice that should be made sooner rather than later is if you’re going to use someone to help you with the process. The majority of house-hunters and sellers use an agent. So, if you’ve decided to use a real estate agent to help you with your home search, or to sell your home -- or maybe both -- then it’s critical that you know how to find the right agent for you.
There’s no law that says you have to use a real estate agent to help you buy or sell a house, but working with a professional can take a lot of the stress out of the equation.
So, where do you begin?
Here are a few things to consider when you embark on your search for a real estate agent:
What kind of agent do you need?
Basically, the type of real estate agent you need mainly depends on whether you are trying to sell your house, or buy a new one. If you are selling, you need a listing agent. The listing agent will compare home sales in your area and assess the market conditions in order to set a reasonable and competitive listing price for your home. She will also help market your property and list your property on the MLS (multiple listing service).
If you are buying, then a buyer’s agent will talk with you about what kind of house you are looking for, find potential homes in your price range and schedule showings for you to see multiple properties. Once you are ready to make an offer, your agent will help negotiate the best deal for you and walk you through the closing process.
If you plan to sell your house, and also need help finding your new home in or near the same area, then you may use the same agent for both. In either case, the agent is acting as a sort of ringleader or organizer between all of the various acts that come into play, including title clerks, banks, inspectors, plumbers, and even attorneys.
Where should you look?
When you’re looking for an agent, one of the first places, many people start is with their family and friends. Referrals can be one of the best ways to find an agent because the odds are good that if your trusted friends and family worked well with a person, then you will, too. Still, this doesn’t mean you have to go with the first person your best friend recommends.
It’s always important to do your due diligence and make a list of several agents that come highly recommended. Then, take some time to set up a phone interview with each one, or even meet in person if it is possible, to see which agent you personally click with the best. After all, you are most likely going to be working with your agent for a while, and you want to make sure that it is someone you like and communicate with well.
If referrals are not an option for you, don’t fret, there are other ways to find a great agent. You can look online to find a list of agents in or near your zip code and peruse reviews of those that catch your eye. You can also check out your neighborhood (if you’re selling) or the neighborhood you want to move to (if you’re buying) for houses that are for sale and attend some open houses. This is a great way to meet agents in person, introduce yourself and ask your questions.
What should you ask?
Speaking of questions, what exactly should you ask real estate agents that you will potentially hire? Here are some items to add to your interview list:
Is the agent licensed?
The first thing you want to know is if the agent is licensed in the state that you are selling or buying your house. All agents must be licensed in the state in which they practice. You can verify whether the agent is licensed by checking the real estate commission website for your state (or the state in which you are house-hunting).
Does the agent belong to NAR?
Although this is not a dealbreaker, agents that belong to NAR (National Association of REALTORS®), are committed to following a strict code of ethics, and also show that they have gone the extra mile to deliver the best service to their clients. These agents carry the designation of REALTOR?.
Does the agent have dual agency?
Licensed real estate agents are required to do what is best for their clients. Once you sign an agreement with an agent, they have sworn to work with your best interests in mind. This can become a little slippery if the agent that you use to buy a house also happens to be the listing agent for the same property. This is called dual agency, and no matter which way you slice it, it’s tricky for an agent to get the best price for his sellers while negotiating the best deal for you.
Dual agency is legal in many states, and there are many agents that are able to handle this somewhat tricky situation, but ultimately, you need to be comfortable with the arrangement. Whatever you decide, if the agent that you will be working with has dual agency, be upfront from the very beginning and make sure you know all of the potential issues that could arise.
How long has the agent been in real estate?
Knowing how long the agent has been in the real estate industry is always good information to have, although even a fairly new agent can land you a successful sale or find you the perfect home. Where experience comes in handy, is the level of knowledge and wisdom that an agent who has been working in the industry for a while brings to the table. Plus, she has had more time to develop her professional network and might have the inside scoop on certain areas and properties; information that a new agent hasn’t had the chance to develop yet.
Is the agent able to work with your schedule?
If you are selling or buying a house, then you need to be ready to put in a little time and effort; but the whole point of having a real estate agent is so the process doesn’t become too stressful. Therefore, make sure the agent is able and willing to work with your schedule (within reason).
For example, if you host a weekly game night at your house on Thursdays, make sure that your agent is willing to not schedule showings on Thursday nights. If you are house hunting, and working overnight shifts, find out if your agent is willing to show you properties in the late morning or early afternoon hours, so that you can get more than four hours of sleep.
Is the agent willing to use your preferred method of communication?
In this day and age, people communicate a lot via technology, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t those who prefer to talk on the phone or even face-to-face. Make sure that your agent is on board with your preferred style of communication.
If you are extremely busy, and the fast communication of texting works well for you, then you definitely don’t want an agent that is always trying to set a sit down meeting with you about a property. On the other hand, if you prefer a phone conversation, and the agent never answers his phone, but responds only with texts, then that might not be a good match for you.
How would the agent market your property (if you’re selling)?
If you are selling your house, ask your agent how she will let potential buyers know about your property; will she put up signs or hire a professional photographer; will she use someone to stage your home, or recommend that you make certain changes; does she plan on hosting an open house? Make sure that you are both on the same page and clear about all expectations from both parties.
As you interview different agents, jot down notes to help you remember things later, and always think about how you felt when you were speaking with the agent. Did he or she make you feel comfortable? Did she take the time to answer all of your questions? You definitely want to choose someone that you click with, and that you feel at ease interacting with so that the process remains pleasant.
Are you ready to find the right real estate agent for you? Our professional and trusted team is ready to answer any questions that you may have! For more resources and insight on buying and selling your home, check out our blog! We look forward to being a part of your real estate journey!