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How to Find a Great Real Estate Agent You Can Trust





When it comes to Realtors, personalities and skill levels run the gamut. I’ve worked with two real estate agents in my life, and the second one far exceeded the first when it came to friendliness, marketing savvy, and overall skill.

There are over 1.3 million Realtors in the U.S. Remarkably, over 80% of them quit in just their first year. Out of the 20% that do make it, another 80% of them will quit within five years.

Selling real estate is hard work, which is why choosing the right agent can make the difference between failure and success for you, whether you’re buying or selling.

So, how do you go about finding a great agent? Here are some tips for tracking down the best real estate agent for you.

Finding a Real Estate Agent

First and foremost, you have to actually find some agents to consider. Try the following tactics for meeting Realtors in your area:

1. Ask Around
Chances are your friends, family and business associates have all worked with an agent at some point in their life. Agents often get a huge amount of business from referrals; or at least they do if they’re good.

Ask the people you know and trust if they have a good recommendation. But don’t let their referral be the only deciding factor. The first agent I worked with was referred to me by my parents, and unfortunately, she wasn’t that great.

So, get referrals, but take them with a grain of salt. Do your due diligence researching potential agents, no matter who recommends them. The right agent for one person might not be a good fit for you.

2. Attend Open Houses
If you have some time before you start looking for a home, or before you put your home on the market, try attending some open houses in your area. Realtors are always in attendance here, so this can be a great opportunity to meet them face to face and size them up.

3. Attend Home Buying/Selling Seminars
Many cities put on home shows every spring and summer. These events offer a great way to meet several different Realtors at once.

If you are buying your first home, attend a First Time Homebuyer’s course. Realtors act as guest speakers for these, and you will learn a lot about the ins and outs of home buying.

4. Look for Ads
Successful Realtors will often put ads out in local newspapers and magazines. If you’re looking for a Realtor who is likely to have a “team” of professionals helping them, then browse your local publications for advertisements.

If you find someone you think you might like, set up a meeting. And remember, one meeting does not mean you are committed to working with them. It is simply a time for you to take a good look at that person and their qualifications, and see if they meet your needs.

newspaper with the headline Real EstateAnalyzing an Agent

Once you’re ready to meet with an agent, what should you look at? How do you know if he or she will be right for you?

Here are a few things you should do to answer these questions adequately:

1. Size Them Up
Do they seem like someone you’d get along with? Do they seem open and honest? Is their personality and energy level compatible with yours?

Go with your gut here. You want to work with someone you feel comfortable with. If you don’t like the person, or don’t trust them, their “Million Dollar Sales Award” won’t make the experience any better. So, go with someone you actually like, first and foremost.

2. Ask Some Key Questions
Make a list of questions to ask the Realtor when you meet with him. Be sure to bring a pad of paper and pen so you can take notes. Some essential questions are:

  • Do you have an active real estate license?
  • Is real estate your full-time career?
  • How much of your business comes from referrals?
  • How long have you been working in the area?
  • Do you live in the area? If so, how long?
  • How long does it take your average client to sell their home (or find the right home, if they’re buying)?
  • Are you a member of the Multiple Listing Service (MLS)? MLS membership means you’ll have access to all the listings in the area, including pictures and descriptions.

3. Determine What Type of Agent They Are
Make sure you fully understand if the Realtor is a buyer’s agent or a seller’s agent. If you’re selling, you’ll want a seller’s agent. If you’re buying, you want a buyer’s agent (not someone who represents both sides). This means that your Realtor will be loyal to you; any information you tell them, especially about your selling or buying price, will be kept strictly confidential. It’s important to ask this up front, as some Realtors won’t tell you outright.

4. Inquire About Marketing Tactics
If you’re selling your home, ask how the Realtor will be marketing your home. Will they do a Virtual Tour? Will there be flyers put out for potential buyers? Can they assist with staging your home?

Each of these points is incredibly important to the overall picture of the agent. Cover these bases, and you can feel confident you’re making the right decision.

Couple handshaking with financial adviserFinal Word

It may seem overboard, but having the right Realtor has a huge impact on whether you sell your home, or buy the right one. It’s especially important that you feel confident in your decision when the time comes for any kind of negotiations. Someone who doesn’t really know what they’re doing can end up costing you, and they’ll still be paid a commission whether you get the best deal or not.

In the end, it’s definitely worth the extra time and effort to find someone whose personality, experience, and skill level fits your needs, and gets you excited about the process.

What have your experiences with real estate agents been like? Do you have any tips for finding a great one?

Heather Levin
Heather Levin is a writer with over 15 years experience covering personal finance, natural health, parenting, and green living. She lives in the mountains of Western North Carolina with her husband and two young sons, where they're often wandering on frequent picnics to find feathers and wildflowers.

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