Find a Realtor Who Makes the Grade!
Buying or selling a home is a personal and expensive decision. If you've decided to hire a real estate agent to help you along your journey, you want to make sure they're a top-notch professional. Most home buyers/sellers only deal with real estate transactions a few times in their lives, so it's helpful to hire someone who is knowledgeable in real estate law and who deals with buying or selling homes for their day-to-day job. What sets a real estate agent apart as the best one for you? Of course, some of it is simply preference; how the agent communicates and how their personality meshes with yours. However, there are specifics you should look for as you begin picking your perfect realtor. This guide should be able to help you find a great realtor for you and being your buying or selling journey.
Step One: Finding Qualified Realtors
The first step in finding realtors that meet your needs it to find realtors who you can interview and vet. To find a bulk of realtors who you can begin interviewing use these three steps:
To begin finding the agent who will best fit your needs, start by looking online. An agent who has a strong online presence is a must in today's housing market. They should have well put together social media profiles. You should also read reviews written about the realtors. Granted, many satisfied and unsatisfied clients may not write a review, so you're getting an unbalanced view of the realtor, but it's always good to check. It's also a good idea to not automatically trust an agent who comes up in the advertisements on Google or a listing site. Most of those agents have paid for that spot, and while that may mean they have a profit enough to spend on advertising, it doesn't necessarily mean they're the best option for you.
Go to Open Houses
Next, find agents out and working. The best agents aren't going to be sitting at their desk all day. In fact, they'll most likely be out and about with clients or at closings. Although it's possible to catch an agent at their office or on the first call, don't be surprised if you have to leave a message and they call you back later. A great place to meet real estate agents is at open houses. There, you can judge if their personality meshes with yours, how they conduct themselves with clients and their marketing tactics.
Ask for Recommendations from Friends or Family
Next, ask your friends and family who they have used in the past to buy and sell their homes. A trusted realtor who has already worked with your family is a good place to start. Not only do you have a previous client of theirs that you can call and ask about the experience of working with the realtor, but they're more likely to try harder to get your business and help you, as they'll lose you and the potential future business of your friend or family if they do not.
Vetting the Agent:
Once you've found a number of different agents that have strong online presences, are recommended to you by friend or family and who mesh well with your personality, begin the interview process. Here are some questions you should ask, below. Use this report card to score your potential realtor and pick the best one. We made our "F" answers a bit funny, and don't actually think a realtor will have the problems we've included on the report card.
How well do you know the area?
If you're selling a home, you want the realtor to know the most competitive prices for a home your size, as well as what selling points they can use to market to potential buyers.
As a buyer, you want a real estate agent to know what a competitive bid is for a home of the size and location you're looking at buying. You also want them to help you find respected, local lenders, inspectors, title companies and more to assist you in buying the home.
Give your Realtor an A if they can show you listings they have sold or helped purchase in the neighborhoods you are looking at within the last year. Give your Realtor a B if they can provide you with accurate bids for homes within the area. You can double check this on Zillow or Redfin. Give your Realtor a C if they give you a guesstimate of a competitive bid or price point, but are off. Give your Realtor an F if they have no idea where the area is or how to get there, let alone price points.
Are you accredited or licensed?
License and accreditation are important for purchasing or selling a home. You want a realtor who is familiar with the laws surrounding real estate.
Give your Realtor an A if they are a Realtor, or member of the National Association of Realtors, who has to adhere to strict ethics in order to become a licensed member. Give your realtor a B if they are a Real Estate Agent who is licensed and is a part of another group that adheres to ethics codes. Give your realtor a C if they are a real estate agent who is licensed. Give your realtor an F if they've never heard of a real estate license.
Can I speak to some recent clients of yours?
Just like a job interview, you should ask for client recommendations. You want to hear their experience with the real estate agent to make sure they're professional and someone you can trust.
Give your Realtor an A if they connect you with their past clients who give them great reviews. Give your Realtor a B if they give you past clients who have mixed reviews "“ after all, you can't please everyone. Listen to their experiences and take them with a grain of salt. Give your Realtor a C if they don't want to connect you with past clients. Give your Realtor an F if they don't have past clients.
How long have you been in business and is it full or part time?
A long-time realtor who makes enough to sustain their lifestyle and support a family is a great sign. This means they are able to help buy or sell homes and get a good amount of commission. You also want a realtor who is full time -- it means they have a full-time commitment to you and other buyers or sellers like you.
Give your Realtor an A if they are a full time realtor who has been in business for an extended period of time. Give your Realtor a B if they are a full time realtor who has not been in business for long. Give your Realtor a C if they are a part time realtor. Give your Realtor an F if they've never sold a house before in their whole life.
What kind of homes and their price range do you normally sell or buy?
You want to have a realtor who is an expert on the specific type of property you're looking to sell or buy. This way they know what options you have in the area if you're buying, or what kinds of options to add to the home to sell it faster.
Give your Realtor an A if they list or sell homes in your same price range and property type. Give your Realtor a B if they list or sell homes in your same price range, or if they the same property type, but not both. Give your Realtor a C if they do not list or sell homes in the same property type or price range. Give your Realtor an F if they want to list your home for $1.
How many listings do you currently have?
Having a real estate agent with a few different listings and buyers is a great sign "“ but you also don't want them to get overwhelmed.
Give your Realtor an A if they have a reasonable amount of buyers and listings. Give your Realtor a B if they have too many listings and buyers. Give your Realtor a C if they don't have any listing or buyers. Give your Realtor an F if they think a listing is something you use at the grocery store.
How regularly will you communicate with me?
Finally, you want updates and regular communication with your realtor about new potential buyers or listings. You don't want to end up hiring a real estate agent who doesn't give you updates.
Give your Realtor an A if they say they will be communicating with you weekly, and sending you listings daily. Give your Realtor a B if they say they will communicate when they can. Give your Realtor a C if they say they communicate monthly. Give your Realtor an F if they still have a corded phone and haven't ever heard of the internet.
After you interview each potential Realtor, you can use this grading tool to let you know which one you should pick to work for you!
Of course, you'll want to ask your Realtor about home warranties on any property you buy or sell. If you're listing a property, ask them about free listing coverage from Landmark Home Warranty. Not only will you be covered for repairs and replacements while your home is on the market, the warranty can transfer to a complete home warranty plan once the buyer purchases the home. You can compare plans and pricing here. If you're purchasing a home, ask your buyer's agent about purchasing a home warranty for the property you are buying. You can save hundreds on repairs and replacements.