Regardless of whether you’re buying or selling a property, it's an exciting event. But it’s also an incredibly complex and stressful process, and you need someone you can trust by your side. A knowledgeable realtor who understands the ins and outs of the market will help you through the entire process, taking much of the stress off your plate and helping you make the right decisions.
However, learning how to choose a realtor may be more complicated than you anticipated, with so many brokerages and agents out there vying for your attention. Working with a top
realtor who is both skilled and trustworthy can ensure that, if you’re selling, your home sells for its actual value, or if you’re buying, that you get your dream home for the best possible price.
To help you determine how to pick a realtor, we’ve put together this short guide on what to look for and which questions you should ask.
When Do You Need a Real Estate Agent?
Any real estate transaction is a rollercoaster of emotions, and even the very first task of how to choose a real estate agent can quickly become overwhelming. Not only are there real estate offices on nearly every corner, but purchasers now have internet access to an endless number of potential agents and brokers.
However, choosing a realtor keeps you one step removed from the process. It reduces your chances of making costly mistakes like overpricing your property, overpaying for a home you’ve fallen in love with, refusing to challenge a low offer, or giving in too quickly when you're on a tight schedule. A realtor can help you make smart decisions whether you’re buying or selling and has the option to follow up without appearing eager or desperate — it's their job.
How to Choose a Realtor®
An agent or broker has a fiduciary obligation to treat you — and everyone else involved in a real estate transaction — fairly and in your best interests, whether or not you sign a contract with them. That said, there are ways to choose a realtor that will ensure you get the perfect person for your needs.
Visit open houses
The first step in how to pick a real estate agent is fairly obvious: meet with some face-to-face. Find an open house in your area and observe how the realtor interacts with potential buyers. Don't just grab a business card and leave without interacting with them — strike up a conversation and see if you have chemistry in both the personal and professional realms. After all, this is someone you’ll be spending a lot of time with and investing a lot of trust in, so you want to make sure it’s someone you feel comfortable with for the duration of your relationship.
Gather recommendations from friends and family
Word-of-mouth recommendations are one of the most valuable resources for how to select a real estate agent. Ask your inner circle whether they’ve used a realtor in the past that they enjoyed working with, chances are they’ll either have an agent in mind or know someone who does. Nothing beats the seal of approval from a trusted friend or family member.
Compare real estate agents
Looking up the names of the real estate agents you've identified on the Internet can shed light on how to pick a good realtor. Aside from a direct referral from a friend or family member, the best thing is an agent's online presence (e.g., real estate websites, search engines, and social
networks). Check out what existing clients say about a recommended real estate agent by reading both positive and negative reviews. Also, pay attention to how that agent handles negative feedback.
Meet with multiple agents
When it comes to how to choose a real estate agent for buying or selling a property, one of the most common pieces of advice you’ll hear is: don't hire the first one you meet. By speaking with multiple agents, you can compare your options and select the agent who is the best fit for you and your needs. At the end of the day, the agent you choose is the one who will be representing you during what will most likely be one of the most significant transactions of your life.
When meeting with various agents, you’ll want to make sure that you ask each one the same questions and compare their replies, even if you have a front-runner based on a recommendation or local reputation. Here are some examples of good questions to ask:
- How long have you been in the real estate industry?
- Is it more common for you to work with buyers or sellers?
- At any given moment, how many active clients do you have?
- Are you a member of a group?
- What is your area of expertise?
- Are you prepared to deal with my particular situation?
- What strategy will you use to advertise my home?
- Could you provide me with any references?
Tips for How to Choose a realtor for Your Needs
Here are some tips for qualifying a realtor to see if they’re the right one for you.
Locate a Reliable Agent
As the client, you’ll need to be the one to initiate the conversation. However, be sure to pay special attention to how the agent or broker listens to you and asks you questions. Most effective brokers have access to the technology needed to get your home seen or identify potential buyers. Still, when it comes down to how to choose a realtor to buy or sell your home, you want one that offers a personal touch toward your unique objectives.
Determine which certificates and expertise are relevant to your situation
Many real estate agents pursue extra certifications to improve their skill set, just as any good specialist would seek to expand their education and keep on top of developments or breakthroughs in their profession. The National Association of realtors provides various
certification programs in a variety of real estate specialties, ranging from buyer representation to land consultants, commercial investments, green real estate, and more.
Other specialty certifications might be quite beneficial and significantly impact clients in unique or unusual situations. If you're one of them, finding a qualified agent in one of these areas can be the difference between a mutually successful transaction and a disastrous one.
What to Look for in a Real Estate Agent
Finally, and most importantly, you want someone in your corner that is genuinely on your side. It won’t take long to see if they’re working with you or just in it for the money. Your real estate agent should also be responsive and engaged in the process, always available to answer questions or discuss options with you. A great real estate agent is proactive rather than reactive — so make sure you find someone with initiative and drive. In addition to these qualities, it’s crucial to find someone who will be honest. Your real estate agent should tell you the truth, no matter what — even if it’s bad news. Be sure to ask questions upfront, and don't be afraid to walk away if the relationship isn't working out.
Choose an Agent That Will Always Be on Your Side
If you have any questions or want to learn more about how to choose a realtor, contact Eric Schmitt. There are hundreds of agents to select from, and you need someone with your best interests at heart. Give yourself the best opportunity by choosing someone like Eric Schmitt, a Marin Country real estate agent who will always be on your side.