When you’re looking to buy, sell, or build your home, choosing the right real estate agent can make or break the process. With so many realtors, how do you determine who will work well with you and get the job done? Real estate agents work closely with their clients, so you want someone you can get along with and trust, as well as have knowledge of your neighborhood, success in buying/selling your kind of property, and understand your vision. As you conduct your search, look for the following credentials, conduct, and concerns to find your agent:
There are three certification levels for real estate agents, so it is important to know the differences between them and select the one that will best suit your needs. The three levels are Real Estate Agent, Broker, and Realtor.
- A Real Estate agent can specialize in buying and/ or selling, is licensed by the state, and must work under a Broker.
- A Broker is an agent with an advanced education and experience. Brokers can work independently or hire real estate agents to work in their agency.
- A Realtor is also an agent and is a member of the National Association of Realtors, which holds its members to high ethical and professional standards.
Based on the certification levels, you will either be working with an independent broker or an agent/realtor from a broker’s agency. Both brokers and agents work for commission, typically between 6-10% of your home’s listing price.Your decision will essentially be based on cost and how much knowledge and experience you want your agent to have.
After deciding what kind of agent you want, start researching those agents in your area.
- Ask for referrals from friends and family to narrow your search.
- Research the names of potential realtors online. Look at their client reviews and experience history.
- Contact your top candidates and schedule an interview.
When you contact agents, pay attention to their response time. You want an agent who communicates well and in a timely fashion. Evaluate their professionalism. Notice how they answered your questions, request for information, or interview invitation.
Come to the interview prepared with questions. Here are some examples:
- How long have you been a real estate agent?
- What is the average number of active clients that you have?
- Are you part of a team?
- How much experience do you have with my neighborhood; my type of property?
- Which form of communication do you prefer?
- What can clients expect of you?
- What do you expect of your clients?
Be sure to interview and compare multiple agents. Note their responses and your initial impression of them. Ask about a difficult closing they had, problems they’ve experienced, and how they handled them or have avoided those issues. Get to know the person you’re interviewing a bit. You will be spending a lot of time working and communicating with your agent, so you want someone you are compatible with.
Referrals, research, and interviews are a great way to process potential agents who are knowledgeable, reliable, and professional, but it’s not fool-proof. Here are some red-flags to look for as you conduct your agent hunt.
- Big promises, especially when it comes to the price of your home. An honest agent will be able to give examples of similar properties in your area and their prices to give you an accurate idea of what your home could sell for or a realistic budget for your home purchase.
- Part-time professionals may not be as accessible and focused on your project as a full time realtor would be. Full time realtors stay up to date on listings and the market and are fully present and available to their clients, unlike one who does realty on the side.
- A deal from your agent may sound enticing, but if they offer to take lower commission to get your listing, you must ask yourself why. A desperate agent is desperate for a reason. Successful agents don’t need to cut their rates because they offer a necessary service with professionalism and excellence.
At the end of the day, trust your instincts. Don’t disqualify a candidate solely based on lack of experience or title. The experienced agent may be more knowledgeable than the new broker, but the new broker may be more zealous and easy to get along with. Get to know a few agents before making a decision. Only you know who will work best for your home and with you.