I was approached by someone recently who said- there are so many real estate agents. So- if you’re in the market to buy or sell a home, how DO you choose who to have represent you in one of the biggest transactions of your life? The answer quite simply is this: do your research. Real estate agents are not all equal, but with a little forethought and planning, you can avoid potential disaster and identify a trusted partner who will advocate for you.
Is he/she licensed?
The first step in choosing the right real estate agent is to verify their license status. Make sure the agent is active and has no history of disciplinary action. There are numerous laws that govern real estate so you’ll want to be sure that any potential candidate is licensed to practice and hasn’t been in trouble before for improper practice.
Is he/she a REALTOR?
A real estate agent may or may not be a REALTOR. The term REALTOR is used to describe “a member of the National Association of REALTORS”. REALTORS are licensed real estate agents who subscribe specifically to a strict code of ethics and are required to complete additional training and education. Would you rather choose an agent that subscribes to a strict code of ethics or one who does not?
What are his/her credentials?
It’s important to choose a person who is professional, knowledgeable, ambitious, and resourceful. Choosing an agent who has twenty years of experience over someone who has only five is fine, however experience does not always necessarily translate into knowledge. An ambitious agent will work tirelessly to study real estate laws, tools, and industry trends regardless of her years of experience.
Has your prospective real estate agent earned any awards or designations? Is he/she involved in civic groups or other professional organizations? Does he/she know the area and study the market data? Does he/she have good working relationships with lenders, business professionals, and other real estate agents? An agent with a strong network may be able to offer you resources which another agent cannot.
What do others say about him/her?
If you interview a real estate agent, she’s going to tell you that she’s great, right? She would probably be crazy not to! Reading testimonials, online reviews and ratings, visiting with a prospective agent’s past clients, and reviewing social media accounts are all great ways to find out more about an agent. Does the agent work with buyers, or sellers, or both? Are the agent’s past clients happy with the service they received? A strong real estate business is contingent upon referrals and happy clients. If in your research you observe poor professionalism or discover a history of unhappy clients, you may want to continue your agent search.
Are you compatible?
Will the agent answer the phone if you call? How does the agent feel about Open Houses? Communication styles and preferences, hours of accessibility, personal value systems, and chemistry are all important components of compatibility.
One of the most important criteria in choosing the right real estate agent is finding someone you can trust. You want to hire someone truthful and trustworthy to fight for your goals, and not for theirs. An agent who just seems pushy or disregards your needs might very well be an agent just looking for a sale. Listen to your instincts and always trust your gut.