There are multitudes of real estate brokerages out there, but if you’re like most homeowners or buyers, you’re worried that you might be making the wrong decision. Here’s how to choose the best agent for you and your family and what to watch out for.
What Your Agent Must Have To Be Successful
First, a license. Second, experience. Third, results. Ideally, you want your agent to be a success in his or her industry, have the knowledge and experience, and a valid license to sell real estate.
Other than that, you should look for agents that you personally “click” with. You don’t have to become besties, but you should at least get along and the agent should understand you – he or she should “get you” as a person.
One Trick You Can Use Right Now
Talk to recent clients. If you can find out who the agent recently sold to, and it’s OK to chat with them, do so. Don’t ask them if they were satisfied – that’s a conversation that goes nowhere quickly. An agent is only going to give you references of people who are likely to say “yes” to a question like that.
What you want to ask are opened-ended questions, “What was it like working with __________?” Let them tell you about the experience. Pay attention to the details they give you.
Does the experience sound like something you’d like to go through? Two people can have two very different ideas about what constitutes “ideal service.” So, it pays just to listen and let them tell you their story.
If they’re light on details, this also tells you something – the person wasn’t really paying attention during the home-buying process.
If these are the referrals you’re getting, it’s not a strong one, meaning the agent either sells to inexperienced homeowners, or maybe he pulled the wool over their eyes and they just didn’t notice.
Of course, it could be that the real estate agent’s clients just aren’t that savvy. Look for a pattern. If all of the referrals are like that, proceed with caution.
Make Sure Your Agent Is Legal
This seems rather silly, but you should look up the agent’s licensing in your state. Check with your state’s regulatory body to see if the person is licensed and if there’s been any disciplinary action or complaints lodged against them.
The Best Credentials You Should Be Looking For
While a designation isn’t a guarantee of great service, some of the best realtors will have one of these designations:
- CRS (Certified Residential Specialist) – This designation signifies that the person has had additional training in handling residential real estate.
- ABR (Accredited Buyer’s Representative) – This designation means that they’ve completed additional education in representing buyers in a transaction.
- SRES (Seniors Real Estate Specialist) – This designation means that the person has completed training related to helping buyers and sellers in the 50-plus age range.
Don’t Do Business With This Type of Agent…Ever
People sometimes want to give family members the business because, well, they’re family. This can be a huge mistake. Unless your relative is a full-time agent who specialized in your specific desired neighborhood, then he or she is not likely to be better than another agent.
If the deal falls through, or if you don’t end up getting what you wanted, it can sour the relationship.
Why You Should Be Willing To Pay Normal Commissions
Real estate agents who charge a lower commission seem like they should be doing something good for you. But, when the commission on your house is lower, fewer agents will want to show it. This doesn’t mean you should try to negotiate a lower rate if one agent ends up as the listing agents and the seller’s agent. But, you shouldn’t walk into a real estate deal with the idea that you’re going to minimize commissions. You’re just not going to get good service that way.
Don’t Work With A “Cowboy”
Real estate “cowboys” are agents that only work part time, usually on the weekends or to supplement their full-time job. They love the thrill of the sale, and they like rushing in to be the “hero” but they don’t like the responsibility of actually being an agent.
That’s not good news for you.
Whether you’re a buyer or seller, you want to choose an agent who is actively working in the business, full-time. He or she should be following the market every day, and should be engaged with clients about the state of the industry.
Bill Beazley started off in property investing in 1997 and is self taught. He enjoys sharing his insights online through blogging. His articles mainly appear in homeowner and property related websites.