Real estate agent

How to choose a real estate agent

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Buying or selling your home is a big business. Here’s how to choose the right real estate agent to help you navigate the process. (iStock)

Selling or buying a home is one of the most important financial decisions you will ever make. This is why many people find it helpful to seek advice from a licensed real estate agent. In 2020, 88% of buyers bought their homes and 89% of sellers sold their homes with the help of a real estate agent or broker, according to a report by the National Association of Realtors.

Realtors bring a lot of benefits to the table. An experienced listing agent is your neighborhood home pricing expert who can list your home for fair market value. A good real estate agent will also negotiate on your behalf and take care of the paperwork for you.

Whether you’re buying or selling your home, here’s how to choose a real estate agent that’s right for you.

What should I look for in a real estate agent?

The right real estate agent is a competent person you can trust to help you conduct your real estate transaction with integrity. Here are some essential qualities your agent should have.

  • Licensed – The first step in finding a reputable agent is to contact your state’s real estate department to see if your agent is licensed. Be sure to check if they have received any complaints or been disciplined.
  • Full Time – If your agent is selling homes part time, how do you think he will fare when it comes time to negotiate with a full time agent who is in the trenches every day? If they are at their day job or if they are not available, it can be more difficult for them to deal with the inevitable problems that arise.
  • Outstanding Communicator – Things move quickly in a real estate transaction and there are many tasks that need to be handled quickly. To this end, you will be in constant contact with your real estate agent, making it imperative to have an agent who is a proactive communicator and who returns correspondence effectively.
  • Tech-savvy – Nine out of 10 homebuyers are turning to the Internet as their primary source of information, according to the National Association of Realtors, or NAR. A good agent should be familiar with the Internet and be able to market your home online to potential buyers. A buyer’s agent should be able to sift through the listings every day to make sure that you are immediately in the know when your dream home hits the market.

Visit Credible to connect with real estate agents in your market.

How can I find a real estate agent?

A quick way to find licensed real estate agents is to search the national database, which is operated by NAR. You can also find local agents by checking the advice of state and local real estate agents.

Go to the open house to discover the local housing market

Perhaps the most obvious place to find a real estate agent is to walk around your neighborhood and look for “for sale” lawn signs advertising open houses and homes sold.

Talk to an agent in person at an open house

Open houses can also be a networking opportunity to meet real estate agents. By attending a few open houses, you will have the chance to speak with the agents who sell these homes. You might meet an agent you like and ticks all the boxes you’re looking for.

Get referrals from your network

Word of mouth is one of the best ways to find recommendations. Ask your relatives or closest friends who they would recommend or not recommend and why. Referrals aren’t 100% foolproof, but they can be a great way to choose a real estate agent.

Compare real estate agents online

One of the fastest ways to review the listing or buyers’ agents in your area is to search online for “your city + real estate agent”. Your search will not only return a list of agents in your area, but many of them will have multiple reviews and ratings attached to their names for you to compare.

Zillow’s Agent Finder is another good resource for finding and comparing agents that shows you the agent’s license number, specialties, and star rating.

Finally, most real estate agents today maintain an online presence, ranging from a simple Facebook business page to a full website with resources for buyers and sellers. When you focus on the agents you love, check out their website or social media to get a feel for how they present themselves professionally.

To find a real estate agent in your market, you can search Credible’s database of over 90,000 agents.

What to consider when choosing a real estate agent

Once you’ve found a few agents you might want to work with, here are some criteria to consider when making your choice.

Identify relevant certifications

Make sure your real estate agent lists their real estate agent job title with a capital “R” or you can see a blocky “R” logo next to their name. The difference between a real estate agent and a real estate agent is that a real estate agent is a member of the National Association of Realtors and bound by the organization’s code of ethics.

Many real estate agents have additional certifications, which means that they have taken additional courses and training in a particular specialty. While each state has different requirements for real estate agents, here are some standard designations you might find:

  • Accredited Buyer’s Representative (ABR): This designation is intended for agents who focus on representing home buyers.
  • Seller Representative Specialist (SRS): This certification aims to raise professional standards in the real estate industry and is considered the premier designation for sellers’ agents.
  • Seniors Real Estate Specialist (SRES): An SRES designation shows that the agent has additional training to better support buyers over the age of 50.

Ask your real estate agent the right questions

It is important to interview at least a few agents so that you can compare them and identify the right professional for you. Here are some questions to ask.

  • How many years of real estate experience do you have? You want to make sure that you are not your agent’s first customer and that they have sufficient experience to handle negotiations competently and complete your transaction.
  • How many clients do you currently have? In an active real estate market, an agent without a client could be a red flag. On the other hand, your agent may not have enough time for you if he has too many clients.
  • Do you specialize in working with buyers or sellers? Many real estate agents wear both hats and represent buyers and sellers equally effectively. But if your agent works primarily with sellers and you are a buyer, the agent may assign another agent on their team to work with you.
  • How will you market my house? A professional listing agent should give you a presentation detailing how they will value and market your home to have the best chance of getting a buyer to buy your home for the best price.
  • Do you have some references that I can contact? Any agent worth his salt will expect this question and have contact details handy for at least a few references.

Explain your preferred method of communication

If you prefer to call or email but your real estate agent prefers to text, this might not be the best solution. Remember that you will be in frequent contact with your agent, often several times a day. If communication is more difficult than it should be, it could be a recipe for frustration.

If you are selling, clarify your motivation

If you are looking for a real estate agent to sell your home, it is essential that you explain to them why you are selling. Are you downsizing, improving and / or moving?

When you have clearly defined your timeline, goals and motivations, your agent will have the direction needed to achieve your goals. For example, if you need to meet a specific threshold for the sale price, your agent should know that in advance.

The essentials on real estate

Real estate professionals can help you find your dream home, but you’ll need a suitable mortgage lender to finance it. Credible makes it easy to get prequalified rates from reputable lenders in minutes and discloses lender fees so you can make an informed decision and choose the best agent for you.

Credible also offers a realtor matchmaker in addition to its mortgage options.

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