That you are buy or sell your home, having the right real estate professional by your side as a supportive yet firm friend to guide you through the process and the state of housing in your area can save you time, headaches and head and ultimately money.
It is therefore worth investing time first in defining what you need, then in researching and to interview real estate agents until you find someone who matches your goals.
Why work with a real estate agent?
Of course, you can go it alone without an agent, but buying or selling with a knowledgeable professional in your area can ensure you not only get the best deal, but also that the process is smooth, buttoned up, and low-stress.
If your target market is very competitiveworking with a veteran agent can be an advantage as they will know the ins and outs of your neighborhood.
Similarly, if you are looking for investment properties to flip or wholesale for profit – or for a secondary property outside your market, such as a vacation home – an agent familiar with the market can be an invaluable partner.
What kind of agent do you need?
Any real estate agent you consider must, at a minimum, be licensed and in good standing in the state(s) where they practice.
A buyer’s agent represents a buyer who is looking to buy a property, and a seller’s agent (sometimes called a listing agent) represents an owner who is selling their property. Depending on your side of the transaction, you will most likely sign a buyer or seller agreement with your agent of choice, and it is their responsibility to represent your best interests throughout the process.
In some cases, your agent may represent both sides of a transaction, the buyer and seller. It’s called dual agency, and is legal in many US states. Your agent is required to tell you if they have dual agency, and while dual agency does not necessarily create a conflict of interest, you will need to decide if you are comfortable with your agent representing both. parties in the transaction, or if you prefer to work with an agent who only represents your interests.
Questions to Ask a Realtor
It’s a good idea to interview at least three or four potential agents before deciding who you’d like to work with. Start by asking the following:
- How long have you been a real estate agent? If you’re a first-time buyer or seller, you’ll want to know that you can count on your agent’s experience to guide you.
- How well do you know my target market? Work with someone who knows the neighborhood with all of its unique quirks and trends.
- How many clients do you usually manage at the same time? A thriving client list is great, but make sure you don’t get bogged down in the mess. Will your agent be accessible and responsive? Will you be working with other members of their team? What level of communication do you expect?
Questions for buyers:
- Do you work with buyers within my budget? Make sure your agent has experience with the type of home you are considering, from a luxury property to a repairer.
- How will you help me compete in a competitive market? If the market is tight, how will this agent make your offer stand out?
- What do you do when something goes wrong? The ability to problem-solve proactively is a must-have trait for any agent.
Questions for sellers:
- How would you market my house? How will they make your home stand out? Are they up to date with new technologies like virtual screenings? What kinds of networks do they have?
- How do your fees or commissions work? It is common for the seller to cover the typical 6% commission split between the listing agent and the buyer’s agent, often built into the selling price of the home. Ask the agent to explain their commission structure and any other charges you may expect.
- How do you determine a listing price? Good agents use market data or a comparative market analysis (CMA) to arrive at a listing price that leaves you well positioned for the best possible outcome.
Where to find a real estate agent
To start your search for the right real estate agent, try:
- An agent matchmaking service: These services will ask questions to learn more about your specific needs and then connect you with a seasoned local agent, usually from a branded brokerage.
- Recommendations from family, friends and neighbours: Word of mouth referrals are still a popular way to get a good agent’s name. If your contact says they would work with the same agent if they had to do it all over again, that’s a good sign.
- Attend open days: Attend a few open days in your area or in the area that interests you. You’ll not only meet an agent in person, but you’ll observe them “at work,” which could help you decide if this is an agent who might be a good fit for you.
Check Agent online reviews moreover, as they may be unsolicited and provide unvarnished opinion.