The real estate market can be a tricky business. Constantly fluctuating home values make it extremely difficult for both buyers and sellers. This process is made significantly easier with a qualified real estate agent. However, with so many options to choose from, how do you know who is the right choice for you? Follow these five simple steps to discover your realtor match.
Step 1. Read Reviews from Previous Clients
Before you talk to an agent, do your homework. Begin by talking with previous clients. You can do this one of two ways: 1) read and comment on reviews on websites such as Yelp, and 2) ask the agent for a list of previous clients and their contact information. In your discussions, look for red flags such as:
- The agent listed the property with an unrealistically high asking price
- The agent was too busy with another job to put adequate attention into the listing
- The agent didn’t know the location
- The agent was inexperienced with multiple types of properties, including one similar to yours
- The agent is a poor negotiator
Spotting bad signs ahead of time is the best way to avoid hiring a poor match.
Step 2. Check Credentials
Every state, province, and country has real estate boards that license and train real estate agents for the region, according to the National Association of Realtors. Many of these boards post the names of those who have received licenses on their website. Others provide a phone number you can call to check the license of the agent you’re considering. They can also tell you about previous complaints the agent has received, if there are any.
*Remember that the agent must have a license in the region you’re looking to purchase property in order to be your real estate agent.
Step 3. Compare Agents
The next step is to compare potential agents or companies. For a complete evaluation of each agent, you could gather the information first-hand with personal visits, but if you want a quick, simple way to compare agents in a matter of minutes, use a comparison website for your area.
For example, Trusted Agents provides a great comparison chart for consumers. This chart is specific to the UK, but you can find a plethora of comparison websites online that are specific to your region through a quick Google search.
Step 4. Examine the Agent’s Current Listings
Visit both the agent’s own site and Realtor.com to view the agent’s current listings. First of all, if you struggle to find any listings on either of these platforms, consider that a bad sign. You want an agent who’s savvy when it comes to Internet marketing, and if the listings are difficult to find, it’s an indicator that the agent doesn’t use necessary online resources.
Once you find an agent that has online listings, take a closer look. Those listings should closely resemble your property so you know the agent has experience in your area. Likewise, note the number of open cases. If your agent has too many things going on, he/she won’t be available enough to get you the best deal.
5. Ask the Right Questions
Using these steps, you should be able to narrow it down to one or two agents you’d like to try. Before you sign any contract, have a personal interview with the company or agent. Ask a series of questions to ensure they’re the right match for you. The questions might include:
- How long have you been in business?
- What geographic locations are you familiar with, and can I see evidence of your involvement in those areas?
- What extra costs will I be responsible for to sell/buy this property?
- What is your marketing plan for my property?
If any of the answers to these questions sound a little fishy or aren’t in line with the services you need, start over with these steps until you find the perfect realtor for you.