Everyone loves that we can go online for information about buying or selling a home or to look at the various properties available. The best way to start, however, is still by choosing an agent.
Almost all of us have friends or family members who are real estate agents or have used a specific agent in the past — but picking the right agent is sometimes easier said than done. Today, many agents specialize in certain types of properties such as townhomes, luxury estates, particular neighborhoods or new builds. Others may focus just on helping buyers or sellers. While it may be easier to simply work with your friend or former agent, they might not be the best resource based on your current situation — especially if you’re moving to a different area or purchasing at a higher price point.
Today’s real estate market is extremely competitive, making the local knowledge and expertise of your agent that much more critical. Does your home need to be underpriced to accommodate an expected bidding war or should it be set at market value? Are you purchasing a home in a market where offers need to be 10-40% above the asking price?
Whatever your particular market or situation, you should interview several agents prior to signing a contract. Commitment contracts can last anywhere from 90 days to a full year, so you need to make sure you find the right person or team with whom to work. You have to do your homework in order to make an informed decision.
Drive around the neighborhood(s) you’re interested in to see which agents have homes for sale. If you do receive a recommendation from a friend or family member, check out the agent’s personal website and social media channels to see where they’ve sold properties in the past year and read any posted testimonials. If you’re relocating due to a job transfer, your company might have an affiliation with a real estate firm as well that can help get you started.
When interviewing an agent, be sure to ask questions that cover the following areas. You can start with these key inquiries:
• How long has the agent been working in residential real estate, as well as in your preferred neighborhood? Find out how many homes they’ve sold in the last year in your price range and ask them about their negotiating tactics when dealing with multiple offers or price reduction scenarios.
• If you’re listing a property, what marketing will they do to sell your house, and what are their expectations for you? Do you need to move out of the home in advance or just leave during showings or an open house? If you’re purchasing a home, do they have access to pocket listings — properties that are available, but are not on the MLS? Will they be handling your property search/sale personally, or do they work as a team with other agent(s)?
• What is the agent’s commission and what costs can you expect? Do you need to hire a professional stager or make repairs? Will they help manage any necessary repairs and provide contractor recommendations? Do they expect you to cover closing costs?
• How do your personalities and philosophies mesh? By interviewing several agents, you’ll be able to determine which one’s personality and philosophy will work best for you. Do you need someone who can guide you through the process, or do you simply want a shark who can help you get the best deal? Do you feel comfortable that they’ll help get the best deal for you?
To download our list of more key questions to ask your potential agent, click here.
The time and money involved in buying or selling a home is significant, and it’s important to weigh all of the options when making a decision. If you’re not sure where to start to find agents or want more to interview, there are companies that specialize in connecting agents and clients together based on their specific needs. In most cases, the services are completely free to you — the agent you choose pays a referral fee to the company when the deal closes.
After interviewing several agents you might still decide to use your friend or family member, but at least you’ve done your due diligence and have a good idea as to the state of the market, best practices and marketing tactics that are used.Find Realtors Now