Whenever you want to deal with real estate, the best path will be to work with an agent, unless you are one yourself or you have enough knowledge and experience in the area, but if you are reading this article, I assume you aren’t. So you could be asking yourself, how to find a real estate agent? Your best bet is to ask someone you know for a recommendation. Another option is to drive around your community to see which agents are listed on for sale signs so you can contact them. You can also search for agents online.
Down below, we want to share some steps you can follow.
Look for someone who does at least 1 or 2 transactions each month. When reviewing an agent, look for someone who has been working in sales, negotiations, and contracts for at least five years, preferably in real estate or property management. Five years of experience and a steady stream of transactions means that the agent has a good grasp of the process and can help you find the best deals. Agents with less experience may be a good fit if they know you and the area well, especially if they demonstrate a strong work ethic and strong customer service skills.
Find someone who works in your area. The agent you work with should know the area you want to buy or sell in. Agents who live and work in your area will be aware of the best neighborhoods and price trends. A local agent will also know some other important details, such as where the best schools are, travel times, etc.
Look for awards and honors to help narrow down your options. Visit the real estate website and resume for awards, honors and other signs of recognition. Things like a “Real Estate Agent of the Year” award can be a sign of a quality agent who is likely to exceed your personal needs. However, keep in mind that it may also indicate a busy real estate agent who may not be the right choice if you want more individual attention and you may need to base your decision on other indicators.
Ask your friends and family for references. If you know someone who recently bought or sold a home, please contact them. Friends and family are likely to give you honest reviews of their experience with a particular agent. However, be careful about choosing an agent ONLY because a friend or family member recommended them. Your real estate needs and what you want in a real estate agent may be different, so make sure you understand exactly what your friends or family’s goals were and what they specifically liked about their real estate agent. Ask about any questions the person has referred the agent to as well. This way you will have an idea if the agent has major flaws that could be a deal breaker for you.
Ask how long they have been in business. When interviewing a real estate agent, one of the first questions to ask yourself is how long they have been handling sales, contracts, and negotiations for clients. They must be able to answer the question quickly and accurately. Remember, while five years of experience is ideal, a less experienced person can still be good for you if you’ve developed a good relationship with them. Also, ask how long the agent has been working in your area. Even better, ask if they live near the area. An agent with extensive experience may not be the best choice if he/she is not familiar with your particular area.
Ask if they work alone or in a team. Solo agents are best if you want to have a lot of personal contact with the agent. Agents working in a team are good if you like the idea of specialists for each step. The agent you hire may be a team leader who will then introduce you to a transaction coordinator, assistant or buyer’s agent who will handle those parts of the transaction. Agents who work alone are more likely to walk you through each step, and often do so over the phone or even in person.
Ask about vacations or other planned commitments. Real estate often requires quick action and response time. If a real estate agent has a planned vacation or other commitment that may interfere with your availability, you need to decide if this will affect your purchase or sale of a property. Make sure they have someone to help you if they have a long absence.
Ask about what other properties they have sold. In addition to viewing current properties online, have the agent show you some of the other properties he/she has sold. Make sure these properties are similar to the ones you are looking to buy or sell. It is vital to choose an agent who works with the right properties for your needs. If the agent is used to work at a higher or lower price, they may not understand your particular transaction either. If you are selling a house, ask where the house will be displayed. The main places you should be are on the MLS and the big online sites (Realtor.com, El Roble Properties, Google, Facebook, find24, OLX etc).
Get in touch with their recent clients. Ask for a list of references after meeting with an agent. A quality agent will not hesitate to provide you with a list of recent clients that you can call to inquire about their experience. Call a few references for each agent you interview to make sure they have stellar reviews. Don’t put too much attention to online reviews. Most people will give you a 5-star review in exchange for a Starbucks gift card, and a single negative review may not tell the whole story (ask the agent if you’re concerned).
Make sure you get along with the agent. Chemistry is important in real estate. If you’re working with someone you don’t get along with, this can cause unnecessary tension during an already stressful process. Make sure you feel comfortable with the agent.
Avoid agents who don’t answer their phone or return calls. A good real estate agent sees the job as a full-time job and knows that weekends and evenings can be the busiest times. In real estate, every day is a “business day” and if crucial items come up in the evenings or on weekends, you need an agent you can contact. An agent who is not available around the clock may not be your best option. If an agent doesn’t respond during “regular business hours,” you may have an agent doing real estate on the sidelines.
Stay away from agents who don’t know the area. If an agent doesn’t work in your area, or can’t easily provide information about the area, that’s a bad sign. A quality agent should be able to quickly rattle off things like neighborhoods, general price ranges, nearby businesses, etc. If an agent can’t provide specific details about an area, you may want to find someone who knows you better.
Check that lower commissions do not mean less services. Typical commissions are generally between five and seven percent. When the agent offers a lower commission, make sure that they do not offer you a lower level of service than agents with a higher commission. Before you sign a contract, make sure all your promises are in writing. When buying, you usually don’t have to worry about the commission because the seller usually pays both parties (buyer and seller), so focus on customer service and knowledge of the contract.