How Do I Find The Right Real Estate Agent?

January 23, 2019

One mistake a lot of people make is assuming that all real estate agents are the same. Sellers often work with the first agent someone they know recommends, without doing additional research. Buyers often end up working with an agent whose phone number is listed on a for sale sign, without knowing anything about them.

Making sure that you can not only trust your agent but also enjoy their company will make the process that much better.

Just because someone recommends an agent, or because you liked their bio online, doesn’t mean that they’d necessarily be the right fit. Real estate transactions take a while, there are lots of moving parts in every deal, and emotions and stress can sometimes run high.

The truth is, assuming agents are all the same can be dangerous to your stress level as well as your bottom line. Are they a real estate agent or a REALTOR? Did you know there’s a difference? What is their background? Are they an experienced negotiator? How much training have they received? Have they continued their education in the field beyond the bare minimum? Have they pursued additional certifications and designations? Is the agent part of a larger brokerage, or are they on an island all alone? How full service is the agent’s brokerage -what level of support, services, and education do they offer their agents? So many questions – and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

The agent you choose will be with you through the entire process. Making sure that you can not only trust your agent but also enjoy their company will make the process that much better.

Find Some Possibilities

One of the best ways to start building a list of possible agents is by asking people you know for recommendations. At some point, most of your friends, family, and co-workers have probably worked with one.

Testimonials are a great way to get an idea of how an agent interacts with their clientele.

Testimonials are a great way to get an idea of how an agent interacts with their clientele. Was the client happy? Do they continue the relationship beyond the point of the sale? Would that past client recommend the agent to others? Real estate agents typically receive most of their clients through referrals, so reading their testimonials will give you some great insight.

If you’re new to the area, start with Google. Research local real estate brokerages, and then check out the agents listed on their site. What’s their philosophy? What professional designations or affiliations do they have? Do you have anything in common?

Understand How They Work

It’s important to know that most real estate agents do not receive a salary.
Whether you’re buying or selling, your agent will be paid a commission which is based on a specific percentage of the amount the home is sold for. That amount is then typically split between the agent and their brokerage.

It’s important to know that most real estate agents do not receive a salary.

If you’re selling a home, keep in mind that your agent is working for free until your home is sold. They’re working hard behind the scenes to list your home, actively market it, host open houses and showings, and fielding questions from prospective buyers and other agents, negotiating contracts, and managing the deal from start to finish. All of which is done without pay until the deal is done.

If you’re buying a home, your agent is working for free until you find a home to purchase and close on the sale. Time spent finding, driving to and from, and showing homes is all done on their own time without pay until you find that right one. They’re there to help you find financing, negotiate the best possible price, and to guide you through the transaction all the way through. Quite a bit of work happens behind the scenes in each and every deal!

For those reasons, agents will often ask you to sign agreements which offer them some security in your relationship. When an agent works with a seller, both parties will sign a Listing Agreement. An “Exclusive Right To Sell” agreement is commonly used, which protects the agent’s interests in the deal as well as the seller’s. When an agent works with someone who intends to purchase a home, they may ask the client to sign a Buyers Agreement which ensures that the client will not work with any other agents – protecting the interests of the agent and the buyer as well.

Be wary of agents who are willing to negotiate lower commission rates, as they may cost you in the end.

People thinking about buying or selling should be wary of agents who are willing to negotiate lower commission rates, as they may cost you in the end. Is an agent who caves to pressure regarding their own pay the best person to negotiate the sale of one of your highest value assets?

Another thing to keep in mind is that the agent who lists your home for sale will typically incur quite a bit of cost when marketing your home for sale. Postcards, flyers, newspaper ads, magazine ads, brokerage fees add up. All of those expenditures are made by an agent prior to the sale of the home and come out of the agent’s pocket. How hard will that agent be marketing your home when they know ahead of time that their paycheck will be lower than expected? Lack of marketing up front can mean more time on the market and reductions in the listing price in order to drum up interest.

Time To Meet

All agents are not created equal, so it’s important to get to know them and make sure you feel comfortable.

It’s important to understand that you have every right to interview potential real estate agents, and it’s a common practice to interview more than one. All agents are not created equal, so it’s important to get to know them and make sure you feel comfortable. Having a good conversation with multiple agents will not only give you a more well-rounded view of all of their personalities and skills, but it will also help you determine which you feel more comfortable with overall.

Don’t feel bad asking an agent to meet in person before making a commitment. A worthwhile agent would never object to it. In fact, they’ll likely think it’s a great idea!

Here are some ideas for topics to discuss with each agent:

Take the time to do your research, ask questions, and make an informed decision.

    • How familiar are they with the local market? Big differences in trends, pricing, and competition can sometimes occur even within a single neighborhood.
    • How did they develop their negotiation skills? What’s their negotiation style?
    • How involved will they be in the inspection process, and in discussing necessary improvements and repairs?
    • Are they prepared to assist you with finding the best possible financing options?
    • Will they support you after the contract is signed until closing, managing the transaction process? Will they be present at closing to assist with any last-minute details?
    • What credentials or certifications do they hold?
    • Have they received any distinctions or awards?
    • How many years have they been in the industry?
    • How many deals have they recently closed?

Selecting the right agent for YOU is an important decision. Your home is often your largest asset. Why trust that to “just anyone”? Take the time to do your research, ask questions, and make an informed decision. You’ll thank me later!

In her role as our Digital Strategist, Stephanie puts her sexy brain to use coming up with creative solutions to everyday challenges. Our very own Wonder Woman speaks geek and puts her skills to work in the form of web wizardry and social media magic on a daily basis. An unconventional mix of left-brain analytical thinking and right-brain creativity, Stephanie loves laughter and all things crafty. She’s an admitted perfectionist when it comes to her work and is widely known for always greeting dogs before people.

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