Finding the right real estate agent can be a confusing and overwhelming process, especially when there are so many options to choose from. With so many agents claiming to be the best, it can be difficult to know where to start and who to trust. That's why it's important to have a clear understanding of what you should be looking for and what red flags to watch out for when interviewing potential agents. We'll cover the different types of agents, the qualities to look for in a real estate agent, the questions to ask during an interview, and the red flags to avoid. So, let's dive in and simplify the process of finding the perfect real estate agent for your needs!
First off - there's different terms What is the difference between a Realtor and real estate agent? A real estate agent is anyone who is licensed to help people buy and sell commercial or residential property. A Realtor is a trademarked term that refers to a real estate agent who is an active member of the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the largest trade association in the U.S. There are also real estate agents that work in teams vs alone, are part of a brokerage with staff (or not) and those that work in multiple locations. These are all good things to be aware of, and could help you narrow down your choices.
What should be your first steps to finding a GREAT agent?
Recommendations from friends and family: One of the best ways to find a reputable real estate agent is to ask for recommendations from people you know who have recently bought or sold a home. They can provide firsthand accounts that are honest and you can pick their brains on how it all went. Ask your friends how the communication was, if they felt pressured at any point, and if it was a smooth process.
Online research: Another way to find a real estate agent is to search online for local agents. Look at their website, read reviews and ratings, and check their social media presence. This will give you an idea of their qualifications, experience, and how they present themselves. You can Google individual agent names to read their Google business reviews, as well as find their profiles on sites like Zillow that also host reviews. One of the other things to take a look at online is to check how many transactions they usually do - this can be helpful to determine their experience, whether they are full time or part time, and how much time they devote to their clients.
Interviewing multiple agents: Once you have a list of potential agents, it's important to interview multiple candidates to find one who is a good fit for your needs. During the interview, get our your list of questions - or copy ours below - to see how they're going to represent you in the buying or selling process. Some agents specialize in luxury homes, new construction, only sellers, or first-time home buyers. It's important to remember that you should feel comfortable with your agent and be confident in their ability to represent your best interests throughout the buying or selling process.
- Can you tell me about your experience? How long have they been an agent?
- Do they have any additional qualifications or certifications? (Some are also real estate attorneys or have certifications from different organizations for seniors, veterans, CRS, GRS, etc)
- How familiar are you with the local real estate market and neighborhoods? Have they lived nearby for many years? Do they have kids in schools that you might be sending your own to?
- For sellers: How do you plan on marketing and promoting my property to potential buyers? What's your usual budget for promotions and ads.
- For sellers: Will you be the one hosting any open houses?
- How will you communicate with me throughout the buying or selling process?
- Can you provide references or testimonials from past clients?
- How do you determine your commission or fee structure?
- How do you communicate with other agents? What information are you going to prepare for them?
- How do you stay up to date on industry trends, laws, and regulations?
- Are you a full-time agent or do you have another job?
- Do you have a team and if so can I meet them and who will be responsible for what?
These might indicate they're not the best fit for you:
Lack of experience: If the agent is new to the industry or has limited experience, they may not have the knowledge and skills needed to effectively market and sell your property.
Lack of knowledge of the local market: If the agent is not familiar with the local real estate market and neighborhoods, they may not be able to effectively market your property to potential buyers.
Pressure to sign a contract: If an agent is pressuring you to sign a contract without fully answering your questions, or without giving you enough time to think about it, it's a red flag.
Unresponsive or difficult to communicate with: If an agent is not responsive to your calls, emails, or texts, or if they are difficult to communicate with, it may be a sign that they are not fully dedicated to their clients' best interests.
Unwillingness to provide references: If an agent is unwilling to provide references from past clients, it may be a sign that they don't have a good track record or they don't want to be transparent.
Unrealistic promises: If an agent makes unrealistic promises about the sale price of your property or the time it will take to sell it, it may be a sign that they don't have a clear understanding of the market or they are trying to make a quick sale.
Lack of transparency: If an agent is not transparent about their commission or fee structure, it may be a sign that they have something to hide.
Lack of professional attitude: If the agent is not punctual, not well dressed, or not professional in their attitude and communication it's a red flag.
It's important to keep these red flags in mind during the interview process, but also be aware of your own priorities. Some clients might rank different qualifications higher or lower depending on what they are looking for - and at the end of the day it's up to YOU to be confident that you've found the best agent to represent you.