Our Privacy Policy is updating effective December 14, 2017. Click here to see more.

Homefinder logo

How to Choose a Real Estate Agent: 7 Tips for Success

November 15, 2012

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


On November 18 2012 at 8:54 PM chris.benetos@century21.com said:

As a new hard working REALTOR I agree. Even though a newer agent may not have complete knowledge their support system, Broker will. My brokerage has served the Sedona/Verde Valley area since 1954. Contact me Chris Benetos @ 928-607-1683 or chris.benetos@century21.com so I can help you make your dream a Realty!

On November 19 2012 at 9:33 AM Erin Tenhage said:

That's very true, Chris. Finding a realtor with a great brokerage and team backing them up can really make the experience of working with a realtor a positive one. All the best with your work!

On November 24 2012 at 10:24 PM Angela Nolan said:

A couple more things that might help you decide which Realtor you would like to work with: 1. Call the office of the realtor at non-business hours and see if there is an answering or paging system. You want to ensure that when buyers are calling to get information about your home, they are able to contact your representative both during normal business and off hours as well. 2. Check out listing that the realtor currently has on the market. How is the property being represented compared to homes represented by other realtors. Are there professional photographs of both the inside and outside of the home, and are there well written descriptions of the property.

On November 26 2012 at 12:00 PM Erin Tenhage said:

Great ideas, Angela! :) Thanks for sharing!

On December 03 2012 at 7:18 PM Andrew Fogliato said:

A lot of good points there. Thanks for not discounting us newer agents! Many articles basically just say to ignore anyone not in the business for a few years.

Even though I do not have a lot of experience yet I still have the support of anyone that works in my RE/MAX office with me and agents with 30+ years of experience are always willing to help and never more than a phone call away.

So it's a big advantage to get someone like me who has the support of a great brokerage and someone who needs to prove themselves by going above and beyond!

I try to keep everyone informed of as much as possible with my blog, www.andrewfogliato.com - I'd appreciate feedback on it about what you think about it and what you would like to see posted (whether you are from the area or not, not all the info I post is just for those from Aurora/Newmarket).


On December 04 2012 at 9:35 AM Erin Tenhage said:

Thank you for your comment, Andrew! You are absolutely correct: being new to the industry is sometimes a benefit, as it means that agent will work hard to prove themselves by going above and beyond. It's wonderful to hear that you have such good support from your brokerage, and to see that you work hard to connect with and help home buyers & sellers through your blog. All the best with your work!

On December 06 2012 at 11:54 PM Mark Laskey said:

I think the best advice on this page is to "go with your instincts".

If you as the seller have any kind of issue, it is good to deal with a Realtor who you know is interested in making things right. Someone who is in tune with you and your needs.

On December 12 2012 at 4:40 PM Erin Tenhage said:

Insightful comment, Andrew! You are right, our intuition and instincts are so important to making a choice on a realtor as well. There are so many great realtors out there who will give their all to help their clients.

On May 25 2013 at 9:05 AM Marc A. Donald said:

Nice tips, but what I think the most important is that since the biggest financial move in your life is buying or selling a property, So you need to find some time to interview at least 3 agents before choosing one to deal with. Choose someone who's familiar with the area you want to buy/sell your property in, also a good real estate agent should be aware of other technicalities such as inspection, negotiation. What really matters before all this that you need to be comfortable dealing with this agent.

On September 23 2013 at 8:25 AM Josh William said:

Thank you for these great tips they are really influential. In addition of what you have written,
A real professional agent must have an experience that let him close more than 2 properties in a year. An additional step you can take is to do a small research about this agent from a relative or a friend but that’s only for knowing the impression of this agent on others.
Best Regards,
Josh William

On May 10 2016 at 6:05 PM Vivian Black said:

The advice to ask the question "what will you do for me" was really helpful. I can see how this would help you get a better idea of the marketing strategy a real estate agent would use for you. Do you have any advice of online resources or lists of accredited realtor?

On September 16 2016 at 12:06 PM Erika Brady said:

I think it is a good idea to aim high as far as a real estate agent goes. I know people that have settled in the past with their real estate agent, and because of that they did not have a good experience. I am starting to look for a realtor to sell my house in the next several months and it is very important to me to find someone who knows what their doing and is experienced in the details. http://www.century21dale.com/aboutus/default.aspx

On September 19 2016 at 9:55 AM Mara D'Angelo said:

Thank you for your comment Erika! Aiming high is a great idea when choosing a real estate agent. But as well as experience you would surly benefit from a passionate individual looking to really invest themselves into your home selling/home buying experience. Keeping your options open by interviewing new and experienced agents could have you pleasantly surprised. And of course don't settle, find your perfect fit!

On November 16 2016 at 6:43 AM Foster Smith said:

I have been selling real estate in Summerville, SC for over twenty years and I can confirm that these are great tips! In the past few years I have been doing more youtube videos on my blog and site and when people "meet me" in person, they already feel like they know me. Encouraging your readers to look for an agent's youtube channel might be helpful as well!

On November 16 2016 at 11:47 AM Mara D'Angelo said:

Great feedback Foster Smith, thank you! I think that is a fabulous suggestion!!

Add a Comment

Your Comment:
Your Name:
Your Address
(Won't be published)