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How to find a great real estate agent

Real Estate Agent video (Opens Overlay)

Finding the right real estate agent takes time; however doing your due diligence to research agents and find one with the knowledge and skills you need will pay off when it’s time for you to buy or sell your home. Here are some tips to help you find an agent who meets your unique needs.

Determine the type of agent you need

Realtors can have different skill sets based on whether they represent both buyers and sellers or only one side of the transaction. Determining which agent you need is key.

What’s a buyer’s agent?

A buyer’s agent is a real estate agent who works with homebuyers to assist with finding a home in their chosen location and that meets their specific needs.

They would help you find a home and then represent your interests during the showing and negotiation process. It’s important to find the right agent to represent you since they’ll be responsible for helping you navigate the process, which is crucial to getting the home you want at a negotiated price. Additionally, buying a home is an in-depth and sometimes complicated process and you want to make sure you’re working with someone who has your interests in mind.

What’s a seller’s agent?

A seller’s agent, or listing agent, is a real estate agent who works with homeowners to assist them with selling their home. They help you list your home at a fair market value, the negotiated sales price and through the closing process. While realtors can be dual agents, meaning they can represent both buyers and/or sellers, sometimes working with an agent who specializes in the area you need can be more beneficial to you.

Ask your friends or family for recommendations

The next step when searching for a skilled real estate agent may be to inquire with friends or family members that have recently purchased or sold a home. Word of mouth is one of the best forms of advertising. Working with an agent who has successfully helped your close friends or family members that will give you an insider’s perspective into how that particular agent may be able to help you.

Don’t forget to vet the agents online; be sure to read any reviews from other buyers or sellers. Ideally, you’ll want to work with an agent who’s been involved with the purchase or sale of a home within the last six months since market trends can change very quickly. An agent who knows the current market trends can be an invaluable asset when it comes to buying or selling your home in a timely manner.

Ask questions

Once you’ve narrowed down the list of agents you’re interested in working with, you’ll want to set up a meeting with them. Talking with the agent will allow you to get a deeper understanding of their values, skills and if their personality is a good fit with yours. You’ll want to work with someone who has excellent communication skills and understands your buying or selling needs.

Good questions for buyer’s agents include:

  • Are you familiar with the neighborhoods I’m interested in moving to?
  • How often will you send me new listings?
  • Is there anything happening in these neighborhoods that might affect home prices now or in the future?
  • Can you recommend other professionals I’ll need to contact, such as a reliable home inspector?
  • How many homes do you usually show buyers before they are ready to make an offer?
  • What is your sale-to-list ratio for your last 10 transactions?

If you’re selling a home, however, you’ll have very different needs. Here are some good questions to ask if you’re selling a home:

  • How many sales have you closed this last year?
  • Were any of those homes sold in my area?
  • Were these homes listed at a similar price?
  • Do you require mortgage prequalification or conditional approval on incoming offers?
  • Which real estate fees will I be responsible for paying?
  • Do you have a marketing strategy for homes like mine?
  • Do you work with a professional home stager or real estate photographer?
  • Do you have any tips to help me raise my home’s curb appeal?
  • Do you host open houses? If so, how frequently?
  • How long do you expect it will take to sell my home based on current market trends?

Choose an agent with the right credentials

Many real estate agents specialize and will receive additional training in particular areas of interest. To learn which specialty your agent has, take a peek at the acronym following their name on their business card or website. Some common credentials include:

Additionally, if the agent refers to themselves as a Realtor with a capital R, that means they’re a member of the NAR, or the National Association of Realtors. One benefit of working with a member of the NAR is knowing you’re working with an agent who formally pledges to uphold the NAR’s code of ethics.

Verify the agent’s credentials

You can easily verify a realtor’s license and registration using online databases. The Association of Real Estate License Law Officials (ARELLO) has a database that allows you to verify any agent’s credentials. Be sure to check their licensure before you make your final selection.

Find out how experienced the agent is

How long your agent has been in business is also an important factor to consider. If your agent has less than five years of experience, they are likely still learning. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but you should take their experience into consideration. If you intend to continue working with an agent with little to no experience, then you may want to learn more about their future goals.

For example, many real estate agents will start their careers by selling homes on the side while still working a full-time job. There’s nothing wrong with this; however you will want to make sure you’re working with an agent who will have time for you during the times you’re available. If they work a full-time job, you’ll need to know if they’ll only be available to take phone calls and show homes during the evening or on weekends. Most realtors can respond to emails and text messages throughout the day but if you need to work with someone that has availability during the day it may be a question to consider asking. Although a new agent won’t have the same experience of a seasoned agent, it is worth noting that a relatively inexperienced seller’s agent will still be eager to sell your home.

Don’t be afraid to work with a different agent

If you have already decided on an agent but are having second thoughts about their ability to meet your needs, don’t be afraid to select a different agent that aligns more closely with your goals. Be sure to read through any agreements you have with your current agent before making any changes though.

Understand the value of a great agent

One of the best things you can do for your family, as a homebuyer or seller, is to make sure you hire a great real estate agent to help you find your dream home. A good agent understands that your homebuying or selling needs are more important than how quickly they can close a deal or how much they’ll earn on your commission. They understand that you are their client and that your needs come first. Don’t feel pressured to make an offer on one of the first homes you see.

Take your time and only make an offer once you’re sure your agent has found a home that meets all of your unique requirements.

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