How to Choose the Right Real Estate Agent

Are you looking to Buy? or Sell?

Choosing the right real estate agent (REALTOR®) can make all the difference in how well your transaction goes. Most people (1 in 5) use an agent referred to them by a friend, relative, or neighbor, which can be a good choice but may not be the best fit for you.

How do you find the right REALTOR®? I would start with a referral, maybe a couple of referrals from different people you know, and ask them why they thought the agent was good. Then discuss with both agents to see who can support you the best. If you are looking to sell, you want the referrals to be selling agents, and if you are buying, you want agents that represented buyers because these particular REALTORS® will have 2 different skill sets.

A selling agent should be good at helping you decide how to “stage” your home so it will sell quickly. You want someone to help you decide what to keep and what to put away while your house is on the market. A home needs to be de-personalized, and some empty space needs to be created. A buyer should be able to see themselves in your house.  You have seen homes where the owner wanted all their wonderful belongings out in the house, usually against the REALTORs® advice. Then they wonder why a buyer spent an hour in the house and did not make an offer. The buyer was looking at all the wonderful things in the house, not the house!

Even if the house is empty, you want the agent to help you stage it. You would think that an empty house would be the easiest to sell, but it helps to have some staging for the buyer’s eye. Staging an empty house can be simple and yet create a lot more interest.

A selling agent also should work with you on a pricing and timing strategy. You may want the highest price in the shortest amount of time, or you may need to sell instantly or be willing to wait for the right offer to accomplish your goals. You need to communicate with your agent about why you are selling, your timelines, and your needs. If you have already bought another house, been transferred to a different location, moving closer to family, or just want a different house, your agent needs to understand and support you.

Selling agents need a marketing plan as well. In the last year, there have been many changes in how people shop for a home. Your agent should present you with a marketing plan that reflects their ability to market your home to the widest number of people. Ask your agent if they have a written marketing plan? Do they provide virtual tours? Are they willing to hold an open house? Homes are selling rapidly; however, if your home is on the market for a few days or weeks, does your agent have a written plan to keep your home front and center with the current active buyers?

As a buyer, you want a REALTOR® that knows the areas, the current inventory, your needs, have negotiation skills and can work with your schedule. When you talk to the REALTOR®, be sure that their calendar works with your calendar. You may need to look at houses in the evening or on weekends, so be sure that the agent is willing and able to work the hours that work for you. You may have 2 days to identify a house, make an offer, and get it accepted if you are transferred to the area. Is your REALTOR® available during your timeframe? Is the agent showing you homes that meet your criteria? Are they showing you all the listings that might fit your criteria or only the homes listed by their company? Any company may have plenty of listings in the area; however, your agent should show you all homes that meet your criteria. You should feel that the agent is working for you and your interests because you are important in the transaction.

As a buyer or seller, let your agent know how you would like to communicate. I have clients that prefer text, emails, in-person, or phone calls. As a REALTOR®, I try to communicate with my clients in the method they prefer and at the time that is best for them. There are times that I have to talk directly with my client despite their preferred method of communication; however, I try to honor their wishes as much as possible. Let your agent know what you prefer.