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Choosing an Agent: 11 Tips for Picking the Best Real Estate Agent for Your Needs

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Choosing an Agent: 11 Tips for Picking the Best Real Estate Agent for Your Needs

Did you know that more than 1.3 million people in the US are licensed to sell real estate? Choosing an agent who is well versed in the field can be a daunting task. After all, you literally have 1.3 million different options to choose from.

Picking the right agent could spell the difference between a quick painless process and a nightmare you can’t seem to wake up from. This article explores 11 proven methods you can use to scout for the perfect real estate agent. Read on to learn more.

1. Ask for a List of Recent Clients Before Choosing an Agent

Whether you’re a first time home owner looking to buy a house or you're looking to sell a property, you’ll need this information in order to ascertain if the real estate agent is up to the task. If you’re buying a property, ask the agent to provide you with a few clients they’ve done this for in the recent past.

Find out from the clients what the asking price on the respective properties was and what they paid for them. If you are selling, get some background information to see if the previous clients’ properties had features similar to yours.

Get to know where those properties were located, how much they were asking for and what they finally sold for. You need a realtor who specializes in the specific type of property you’re looking to buy or dispose of.

While identifying how to find a real estate agent, you’ll also need to ask the all-important question: how long were their properties on the market for? The last thing you want is to settle for a realtor who takes ages to find a willing buyer or seller for your property.

2. Carry Out Due Diligence to Check for Licensing Information

While learning how to choose a real estate agent, bear in mind that they are licensed and controlled by state regulatory institutions. Each state body has its own rules and regulations that realtors must abide by if they hope to remain in business.

This information is readily available in the public domain. All one has to do is go online, enter the license number or name of the agent and their information should pop up.

You’ll be able to see if a particular agent has had any complaints or disciplinary actions taken against them. This should help you make an informed decision.

3. Professional Awards Are the Ultimate Vote of Confidence

Ask the agents about any professional awards they’ve received and what they were honored for. Real estate agents are best judged by their own peers. So any award they’ve received is the stamp of approval you need to know that you’re in great award-winning hands.

4. Find an Agent with Additional Credentials

A real estate license is great and all, but does the agent have anything else they bring to the table? Do they possess certain specialties in their real estate practice that makes them a trusted authority in the field?

Look out for the post-nominal initials after the agent’s name. These indicate that they have undergone additional training that makes them experts in their field. For instance:

  • CRS denotes Certified Residential Specialist indicates that they have an additional skill set that qualifies them to handle residential real estate.
  • SRES stands for Seniors Real Estate Specialist means that their training empowers them to help real state buyers and sellers aged 50 years and above.
  • ABR after a realtor’s name stands for Accredited Buyer’s Representative. This indicates that they are competent to represent buyers in all real estate transactions.

If the agent refers to themselves as a Realtor with a capital “R”, it means that they are a member of the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and are bound by the body’s code of ethics.

5. Establish How Long They’ve Been in Business

As you’re thinking of how to choose a realtor who can deliver on your expectations, remember that experience is the best teacher. You certainly don't want to put yourself in the hands of an agent who's learning on you. This could potentially cost you time and money.

Choose someone who’s been in the business for at least 5 years. They should be actively engaged in properties within a particular locale and price range.

That way they can easily demonstrate knowledge of the homes and area of your price range to get you the best deal possible. You can ask the realtor directly or simply look them up in the state licensing database to know how long they’ve been in business for.

6. Use Their Current Listings as Your Guide

If you’re wondering how to find a good realtor, looking up a real estate agent’s current listings is the best way to determine if the two of you will be a perfect fit. Today, most potential clients begin their search for real estate online. So, this is the perfect way to gain some valuable insight into the agent's listings.

Are they similar to what you’re looking to buy or sell? Are they in your area code? Do they mirror your price range?

You also want to find an agent with a healthy business portfolio. The larger their number of listings, the more widespread their network is.

It’s a plus if their website looks attractive as well. This shows that they have the ability to effectively use the digital marketing sphere to your advantage.

7. The Real Estate Agent’s Knowledge of the Area Is Key

This is an important element to put into consideration as you decide how to pick a realtor. Casually mention a property in your area that was recently bought or sold and use their response to gauge how in touch they are with the region’s goings-on.

They don’t necessarily have to be the agent who dealt with the property. However, they should be able to give you a few details about it. That’s a person who’s on top of their game and that’s definitely the agent you want on your team.

8. Interview Multiple Agents

When choosing a real estate agent, one and done just won’t cut it. You’ll need to interview at least 3 agents before settling on the one you’ll go with. Some of the questions you need to ask during the interview process include:

  • The methods they intend to use to help you find the perfect property or market.
  • Ask them to provide you with a list of their recent sales as well as references you can call to verify.

Pay attention to the manner in which the agent responds to your initial query. This is a perfect indicator of how you can expect all future interactions to be. Look for one who responds promptly, and with loads of information.

9. Realtor and Real Estate Agent Don’t Mean the Same Thing

All realtors are real estate agents but not all agents are realtors. The term "Realtor" is a registered trademark of the NAR (the National Association of Realtors). They are governed by a set of ethical standards that are embedded in state and federal law.

Members of the NAR pledge to abide by this code of ethics. It is a comprehensive list of about 17 articles that define the underlying standards of practice.

How to find a realtor or a real estate agent ultimately boils down to personal preference. Realtors are allowed to display the NAR logo.

10. Attend Their Open Houses

Going to open houses is the best way to meet and interact with real estate agents in an informal and non-threatening environment. This is especially important if you’re looking for someone to help you sell your home.

You’ll be able to pick up on important details like whether the agent is polite, friendly, and informative. Check to see if they hand out professionally designed promotional material about the property.

Notice the way in which they interact with the potential buyers. They should be actively giving tours and pointing out features about the home and not sitting in a corner ignoring the guests. That would be a glaring red flag that they’re not the one for you.

11. Keep Track of the Neighborhood for Sale Signs

As you drive around your neighborhood, make a list of all the properties with "For Sale" signs displayed on the front lawns, along with the name of their respective real estate agents. Indicate as well, when the signs went up and when a “Sold” banner was slapped across it.

Do a mini-analysis to determine which agent sold their properties at the fastest rate. If you are looking to sell your home, your best bet is to go with the agent who sells their listings the fastest, as opposed to the one with the most “For Sale” signs still up.

The Final Word

A real estate agent is your advocate in a property transaction. They are your first line of defense against all the things that could potentially go wrong when buying or selling your home.

They represent you. They become your face and your voice. They are your ears on the ground.

Use the tips in this article as your guide in choosing an agent who not only exudes professionalism but is savvy enough to get you the best deal there is.

Are you an agent looking for reliable tips to help you sell homes faster? Check out this guide and discover how.