The rise of online real estate information means everyone with an internet connection can be an informed consumer when buying or selling a home. But, even with all the data available, it’s more important than ever to choose the right agent.
Surprisingly, most buyers and sellers give little or no thought to picking their agent. According to one survey, the majority of people – about 70% – select the first agent they meet with.
You and your agent are going to be involved in a trusting, intimate, long-lasting relationship. If you don’t gel at the start, chances are things will get worse on down the road.
Start with your friends and relatives, and ask them if they have an agent they can recommend. Check out the agents who are buying and selling the most properties in your community.
- Talk to several agents until you find someone who is the best fit for you and your circumstances. Ask questions about how many listings the agent has, how many deals completed in your neighborhood and how often you can expect updates.
- If you’re buying; be sure the agent you pick specializes in the type of property – condo, single-family home, investment property – you’re looking for.
- If you’re selling; find out how the agent will market your home, who the target buyer is and how your home be presented to those ideal buyers.
- If you’re selling, approach at least three agents; they will tell you what comparable homes have sold for and the time they take to sell. The suggested listing price should be close, because the agents are all looking at the same data. Pricing too high at the start can mean longer on the market and a less-than-successful sale price.
- Is the agent actively following the market every day? You don’t want a part time agent who does real estate on the side. Buyers need to see new listing quickly and sellers need to have the agent available to show their home.
- Does the agent know the real estate background in your neighborhood? In some areas, moving one block can raise or lower the worth of a property considerably. Here is where you need a neighborhood expert.
- Is the agent able to work with buyers in your price range? If you are looking for an entry level home at an entry level price, and the agent only deals with the high ticket, luxury market, you may not be a good fit.
- Your agent must be able to find you a home and also make sure the deal will close. They need to be a good negotiator and keep up with the nuts and bolts of the transaction. Is the buyer preapproved for a mortgage? Is the home is free of liens before listing? Is the appraisal is accurate? Have all the issues raised in the home inspection been resolved?
- If you’re a buyer, has the agent worked with other buyers in your situation? For example, transactions involving a Federal Housing Association or VA loan will include steps not required for a conventional loan.
- Don’t pick an agent who discounts their commission. The best-qualified agent with the most polished marketing plan will more than make up any discount offered.