Finding a real estate agent that is right for you is no easy task. There are so many factors to consider when you are being contacted by agents left and right and do not know who to go with. “Buying or selling a home is a significant undertaking,” says Dick Archer of The Becky Gloriod Partners. “And in many cases, may represent a homeowner’s most substantial asset. In order for the process to go as smoothly as possible, it’s best to do a little bit of research before selecting a real estate professional.”
First, it’s crucial to know what red flags to look out for – in order to avoid a catastrophic experience. You might want to go with a realtor who does real estate full time, rather than on the side. This way, you know that they are always up-to-date on new listings and are available to assist you when you need; or schedule showings of your home at any time, if you are selling. Also, it may be a bad idea to go with a realtor just because he or she is a friend or family member. They may be close to you, but it does not mean that they specialize in your area or property type. This can cause an unsuccessful buying or selling experience, and may harm the relationship.
If you’re selling, you should get listing presentations from three or more agents. If one of the agent’s suggested listing price is significantly higher than the others, it may sound great at first, but it is an over value of your home and can hurt your home sale in the long run. Since all the agents are looking at the same data to come up with your home’s listing price, they should all be around the same price. Also look out for the realtor’s commission rate. Commissions are typically set at five to seven percent. If an agent has an unusually high, low or “flexible” commission set, then it should alert you that they may not be the best for the job.
Also, make sure that they are willing to provide you with a list of past clients and references. If the agent is unwilling to do so, it may be because they have unsatisfied past clients. Sellers should look into if past clients’ selling prices were close to the asking price, and buyers should look into the overall satisfaction of new homeowners. Finally, check out how the realtor markets their properties. If you see that the agent’s listings have unflattering photos, brochures and videos, they may not be best to work with. Realtors should be taking high quality, professional photos of the homes, providing exceptional and informative brochures and should be up to date with all of the latest technologies that buyers and sellers are using.
Look for neighborhood experts. This is very important because agents who specialize in a particular neighborhood will know the ins and outs of the territory. They will know the specifics of each and every block, and can link you to buyers who are looking for a home in your neighborhood, as well as sellers who have not even put their home on the market yet. Beyond being neighborhood specific, a realtor is best suited to you if their other listings are within a similar price range and property type. If you are trying to sell your home, priced in the 600’s, you’ll want to make sure your realtor has experience selling that kind of property in that price range, rather than condos in the 200’s or mansions in the millions, for example.
If you check with the state licensing board for realtors, there is much you can find out. A good realtor will be licensed, and have no complaints or disciplinary actions. You also want to make sure your agent has been in the industry for at least five years to ensure their aptitude. Beyond the license, another thing to look out for is the realtor’s additional credentials. Some designations include CRS (Certified Residential Specialist) and ABR (Accredited Buyer’s Representative). Further, it’s advantageous to employ a realtor who is a member of the National Association of Realtors (NAR), as there is a strict code of ethics that members adhere to. Members of NAR will refer to themselves as a Realtor – with a capital ‘R’.
“Beyond all of these details, a realtor gets a green flag if they are attentive to your needs, have your best interest in mind and are thorough in their efforts to help you buy or sell a home,” says Archer. “Working with a real estate professional you trust and who clearly understands your motives and interests, provides the best opportunity for results that meet your expectations.” They will go the extra mile in making sure your home is optimally presentable both in person and online, and will equip you with the marketing material and home presentation tips that you need to be successful.