How to Choose a Real Estate Agent
How to choose a Real Estate Agent
Many home buyers choose a real estate agent on the basis of a personal recommendation from a friend, relative or associate or because they met an agent at a weekend open house.
Either of those approaches, among others, may be a good starting point in your selection of an agent to help you buy a home, but neither a recommendation nor a chance meeting should be the ending point in your selection process.
Real estate agents have different competencies
Why? Because any excellent agent isn’t necessary the best agent or even a very good agent for your individual situation. For instance, some real estate agents are more competent on the seller’s side of the transaction while others are more skilled at helping buyers. And while some agents are very familiar with certain neighborhoods, price ranges or types of properties, others don’t have that expertise. Those realities mean some real estate agents may be a good match for you while others may not be.
Some buyers find an agent through a Web site, affinity group, credit union or other program that offers a commission rebate or other incentive to choose an agent through that program. Again, these programs can be a good starting point, but still shouldn’t be the ending point of your selection process. A rebate or incentive may be welcome found money, but shouldn’t be the primary reason why you select a particular agent.
To conduct a thorough search, make a list of agents who’ve been recommended to you or who you’ve encountered at open houses or through Web sites or affinity programs, then interview each of them, preferably in person, if possible, to find out more about their qualifications.
Real estate agent vs. Realtor®
Two good questions to ask upfront are whether the agent is licensed to sell real estate in the state where you want to buy a home and whether the agent is a Realtor®. While many people call real estate brokers and salespeople “Realtors,” only individuals who belong to the National Association of Realtors® are in fact entitled to be called “Realtors®.” The term is important because members of the trade group are subject to its Realtor® Code of Ethics.
How to assess an agent’s qualifications
Here are some other questions you might want to ask:
- Do you work in real estate full time?
- Do you hold any professional designations?
- Do you belong to the multiple-listing service in the area where I want to buy a home?
- How many buyers have you helped to buy a home in the past year?
- Can you give me the names and telephone numbers of those buyers, so I can ask them about your services?
- How familiar are you with homes for sale in my preferred area and price range?
- Will you be on vacation or otherwise unavailable during the time frame when I want to buy a home?
- Do you have a partner, associate or assistant who works with you?
- What exactly would you do to help me find and buy a home that will meet my criteria?
Be upfront and honest about your requirements, as there’s little to be gained by withholding information that might help you figure out which agent will be able to help you. Pay attention to whether the agent listens to your needs and is communicative and responsive to your inquires as well. Ask for specific information and examples of how the agent has helped other people in situations similar to yours. The more questions you ask, the better able you’ll be to make a good choice.