1. Talk To Previous Clients
When you decide to talk with an agent, be sure to ask them for a list of recent clients. A good agent will be happy to provide this information to you. You can ask the agent to tell you about some of the homes they have listed and sold in the past year, with contact information for their clients. To be fair, anyone in the service industry will come with good and bad reviews, but talking with past clients should reveal trends…either good or bad. Be sure and ask former clients what they liked and didn’t like about their experience with the agent. Was communication good? Were problems or issues handled in a timely manner? This information will give you a good sense of how the agent will work with you, and if his or her communication style fits in well with your expectations.
Additionally, be sure and research the agent’s past listings. Are they similar to the type of property you are buying or selling? It’s important to find a real estate agent who is experienced in the kinds of properties that you will be purchasing or listing.
2. Research the Agent’s Current Listings
It’s easy these days to snoop around online and see what listings an agent represents. Most buyers will start their property search online, so if you’re selling a property you want to be sure the agent has a good online presence. Additionally, check out the prices of the agent’s listings. Are the listing prices significantly higher or lower than other similar properties for sale? It’s important to be sure that the agent is knowledgeable and savvy about current market conditions. Good websites to research are Realtor.com as well as the agent’s own company website.
3. Find Out How Long the Agent Has Been in Business
Now, this is not the end all of choosing a real estate agent. There are certainly novice realtors who are fantastic agents and are hungry and motivated to build their client bases. Sometimes a new agent may actually be a good choice if you are looking for an agent who will devote a lot of time to your listing. On the other hand, an agent who has been in business for many years has a lot of experience to bring to the table. Years of experience must also go hand in hand with great referrals from previous clients, though. A long time real estate agent with dismal reviews from previous clients may not be the right choice for you. In the end, you must weigh the agent’s experience with all the other information you gather.
4. Ask About Properties in the Desired Area
If you are buying a house, ask the agent about properties in the area you are looking at. A good agent, one who is on top of the market, should be able to name a few off the top of his or her head. Good agents keep up with current listings, even those that are not their own. Additionally, if you are selling a house, ask about recent sales. Agents should be monitoring sales and keeping up with how much properties are selling for. If an agent is vague, or tells you he or she isn’t sure, it could mean that the agent is just not familiar with the area. It doesn’t mean he or she isn’t a good agent, but it may mean they aren’t the right agent for you. Choose an agent who really knows and understands the market in the area you are buying or selling.
Choosing a real estate agent may seem like a daunting task, but if you put in the leg work to find the perfect agent for you, you will be able to relax and enter the buying or selling process with as little stress as possible. After all, this is an exciting and happy time. Choose a partner who will guide you through the process and be your best advocate. In the long run, you will be glad you did your homework.
For more information check out the National Association of Realtors.
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