We see their names and faces on lawn signs, bus stops and billboards. But when it comes time for us to buy or sell a home for ourselves, how do we know how to choose a realtor who is right for us? Read these tips before choosing a real estate agent to help you put your home into the right hands.
1. Be prepared. If you want to go into your search for a real estate agent informed and prepared, consider arranging for an independent property appraisal and a pre-sale home inspection.
2. Do a little recon. Talk to friends and family about their experiences with agents, and see if they know of anyone great for you to investigate further. Most agents report that at least 50% of their clients are the result of referrals. If you aren’t able to glean any information that way, look at agent websites for testimonials and statistics.
3. Aim high. A real estate agent can be so much more than someone to do the work of selling your house for you. A good realtor will have the knowledge and experience to take care of all the details, including arranging a house inspection, securing a lawyer, and finding the best mortgage for you. Look for an agent who will work to guide you through the entire process, and explain things clearly as well.
4. Go local. Look for an agent who knows the area you are selling or buying in. An agent with experience in a particular region or neighbourhood will know the market, other agents, and special features of that particular location. It is also important to find a real estate agent who works in your price range. If you are selling, they will be able to give you an appropriate estimate and connect with the right buyers. If you are buying, they will know what to search for to best fit your needs.
5. Make a quick call. Before meeting with an agent you are interested with, give them a call and have a brief conversation. This will help you to get a feel for their communications style, ability to listen and to explain, and their general personality. After you hang up, take a few minutes to evaluate your impression of their character. Did you feel that this person was trustworthy, patient, and communicative? Or did they seem distracted, hassled, and curt? Did they listen to you and respond thoughtfully to your questions? If you formed a good impression of the agent, arrange to meet with them in person to interview them further.
6. Ask “What will you do for me?” When you interview potential agents, make sure to ask them this important question. Often real estate agents will have a marketing strategy to lay out for you, which will help you understand the process more fully and make you aware of different strategies.
7. Watch for red flags. You are looking for an agent who is communicative, a good salesperson, experienced, and dedicated. Watch out for agents who don’t listen to you or take the time to explain things clearly to you, or who talk excessively about themselves. Be cautious of agents who only work full-time, as they may not have the necessary experience, knowledge and skills. On the other hand, part-time agents may be fresh from school and eager to help, going above and beyond to do a great job for you. Finally, be extremely wary of agents who value your home at a price too good to be true. They could be overvaluing your property in order to secure your business. They may tell you that they can get more for you than other agents, while in fact your home will simply linger on the market with no bites. Ask this agent to justify his price to you. This is where being informed and arranging a third party appraisal will really help to guide you.
Finding the real estate agent that’s right for you can make all the difference between smooth sailing and troubled waters. Do your homework, don’t be afraid to ask questions, and go with your instincts when judging whether or not you and an agent will be a good fit for each other. Then sit back, relax, and rest easy knowing that they will do the job right.
By HomeFinder’s Erin Tenhage