How to find the Best Real Estate Agent
- Aug 15, 2016
The real estate market can be an intimidating place, especially for first time home buyers. There’s competing bids for the home that has caught your eye, but also the chaos of selling the home you already own. When the frustration reaches a boiling point, that’s when you need to seek the help and support of a real estate agent. An agent is your guide to bridging your expectations and the realities of price, availability and location. This could very well be last home you live in, therefore it’s important to find the right real estate agent. Ask Avenue wants your home buying experience to be exceptional with our 10 tips on how to choose a real estate agent:
- Ask for Recommendations
Ask family, friends and coworkers for a referral to an agent that did a great job for them in the past. This is the best first step in your search because you know they are going to give their honest opinion as well as some insight into the agent’s personality, communication skills and experience.
- Do your Homework
An extensive online search on a prospective agent can tell everything you need to know before contacting them directly. Investigate their online presence on social media, their personal website and customer feedback on third-party sites. The real estate market has changed drastically with the advent of the Internet and if the agent does not have an online presence, then it’s a sign they are behind the times and are probably not the right agent for you.
- Select an Agent with the right Credentials
Preferably you want an agent that introduces themselves as a “Realtor,” which means they are a member of the National Association of Realtors and adhere to a strict code of ethics. If the prospective agent is not a member of NAR, be sure to find an agent that has taken additional classes in a certain category of real estate sales such as:
- CRS (Certified Residential Specialist): certifies additional training in residential real estate
- SRES (Seniors Real Estate Specialist): Certified to help buyers/sellers that are 50 and over
- ABR (Accredited Buyer’s Representative): Certifies additional education in representing buyers in transactions
- Talk with Recent Clients
Ask the agent for a list of past clients and with their contact information. Be sure to ask if there is a particular client who was especially pleased or disappointed. Also, ask about the past client about the agent’s personality and demeanor to see if they will “click” with you, since you may be working with the agent for some time.
- Check how Long the Agent has been in Business
Ask the agent directly or check with their real estate agency. If the agent has not been in business for longer than five years than he/she is using you to learn. Preferably you want an agent that has reputation to uphold in the real estate market because it’s added pressure for them to conduct business to the best of their ability.
Conduct an in-person interview with the agent to see if you are on the same page. Prepare a list of tough questions such as how long he/she takes to close his listings? What’s the agent’s average list-price-to-sales-price ratio? And why you should choose this agent over other prospects? You can meet in a neutral setting like a coffee shop or in your living room if it’s more comfortable.
- Agent’s Specialty
It’s likely you will work with a real estate agent that frequently deals with listings in your price range. Hence, if you are in the market for a luxury home, then don’t settle for a family member as your agent that only sells fixer-uppers. This is because an agent’s price range means he’s an expert on the amenities, fixtures and the house’s condition.
- Ensure the Agent is Familiar with the Neighborhood
The agent should be familiar with the neighborhood and the value, or lack thereof, that it brings to your living situation. Be sure to ask someone in the neighborhood who has recently moved in or has a for sale sign on their front lawn. They may be able to give you valuable information on the agent you are considering hiring as well as the average price a home in the area sells for.
- Look Up the Agent’s License
In the U.S., state boards will have the license and discipline of an agent listed. You can also search if the prospective agent has had any disciplinary actions or complaints. In Canada, you can look up an agent’s license directly on the real estate agency’s site.
- Ask About Other Homes for Sale Nearby
A reputable agent will easily be able to tell what’s for sale in the area and at which rate people are moving in/out. Test the agent by asking about a certain property for sale and if he/she can provide a few details, then you know you have a good one.
Red flags to watch for:
- The agent doesn’t make regular sales: Just because an agent is full time doesn’t mean they are can buy and sell well. An experienced agent will sell frequently and document all the listings they have sold as well as how long it took for each.
- You’ve never seen the agent’s marketing: The reason it’s a red flag is because marketing is so essential to continued success in the real estate industry. In fact, a real estate agent should be borderline aggressive in his marketing scheme with ads online, in publications and billboards. A large marketing budget is an indication of an experienced and reliability.
- The agent offers a lower commission: Veiled as a great deal for you, is actually a sign of an agent in desperation. An experienced real estate agent will have no reason to lower their commission because they earn their fee through selling your home in a reasonable amount of time that in the end saves you the stress and anxiety.
- The agent is lazy: Poor presentation of their listings and their personal brand is a definite red flag. For example, if the photos of listings are grainy and have no accompanying description then it’s an agent who will do the bare minimum to satisfy their client.