How to choose the right real estate agent
You are getting ready to sell or buy a home and in need of a real estate agent to guide you through this emotionally charged process. Finding the right real estate agent is very important, as some of them are efficient, and focused, while others are not. You have to be prepared to weed out the wrong types. A good realtor will be willing to go the extra mile and help you make sound decisions to buy your dream home or sell your existing home quickly. The wrong one can ruin a transaction, causing significant damage. Do your homework, choose your top candidates, and ask the right questions. Start by reading our tips on how to choose the right real estate agent.
- Begin your search
Finding the right real estate agent who will help you sell or buy your home and get you the best deal possible in a reasonable amount of time, all while charging a fair rate, will take a lot of effort on your part. You will need someone who can help you interpret the local market, is knowledgeable, and invested. If you get a potentially good reference from a family member or friend, it’s best to still do your own homework.
Larger real estate agencies may provide a better-qualified agent, who is consistent with the ongoing changes in the real estate market, because bigger companies are often better at offering ongoing education to their agents. However, smaller, privately owned agencies can also have really good agents. Be sure to research the agents that are buying and selling the most homes in your neighborhood.
- Research your top candidates
Now that you have narrowed down your search, it’s time to choose the one. Check with your state’s licensing authority to find out if a prospective agent is licensed and for how long he/she has been selling real estate. At this time, you can also learn of complaints made, if any.
The real estate profession is constantly changing and, you will want an agent who is actively engaged in the market and those changes. Many agents will go beyond the minimal requirements and take additional specialized courses. There are various categories in which a real estate agent can choose to specialize in. Learn of your prospective agent’s credentials.
Check out the agency’s website and sites such as Realtor.com to look for an agent’s current listings. Ultimately, what you’re looking for is someone who is actively engaged in your particular area.
- Interview your candidates
Be sure to ask the agent if about other listings he is currently working with. A high-powered agent may be juggling as many as 15 homes at a time and therefore may not be as attentive. However, you will also want to avoid an agent with no customers.
Find out how many homes he sold in your area and if he has information on other homes that have recently sold or are currently for sale in your area. Ultimately you want an agent is very familiar with your area and has prior experience with similar properties. Find out his marketing strategies and plans to target preferred buyers. What you want is someone who specializes in exactly what you’re selling. If you are in the market to purchase a home, ask how often you are expected to receive listings in the area you are interested in. Finally, ask the agent to provide a list of what they’ve listed and sold in the past year. You will want to reach out to his previous clients to learn more of their experience.
- Service options
Once you have chosen an agent, you will have to decide just how much time you want him to invest on you. If you want priority and a lot of effort on his part, it will be in your best interest to hire him as full-service. An agent earning a small commission is less likely to quickly address any challenges that may come along. Real estate companies put up their own funds to market and advertise your home. The lower the commission, the less incentive for an agent to invest money to market your home.
- Final Steps
Once you have agreed on the terms of services, the agent will then want you to sign a document called a buyer’s agency agreement. It is a legal agreement between you and the agent that ensures the agent is compensated if a sale occurs. Because this agreement binds you to this particular agent for several months, you have to be sure you definitely want to work with him. Therefore before you sign anything find out if there is a trial period, when an agent will work with you for a short time without an agreement. Find out how long you’re bound by the agreement and what are the terms for breaking the agreement if you’re unhappy with his service. Lastly, have the entire agreement in writing and signed.