Choosing Your Real Estate Agent

The first rule of choosing a real estate agent is to use an agent that is an expert on the neighborhood or community in which you are buying or selling. If you are relocating, then you probably will be working with two real estate agents. What makes a real estate agent an expert (not all of them are experts) is their knowledge of current and past trends on the sale and purchase of all different types of homes (condos, townhouses, single family) in a given community, in addition to knowing all the local facts relevant to your home selection. That means they should be aware of community information, schools, taxes, resale trends and other pertinent data.

Good real estate agents also have knowledge of the home market in the community. What is the typical sales price for a home like yours? How much does the type of home you are looking for typically cost? The real estate agent who is listing your home should be able to do a market analysis of your home and provide a detailed history of sales trends that lead him/her to recommend an asking price for your home. A real estate agent who is helping you search for a new home should be able to give you a break-down of homes in your price range and where they are located.

The key to an expert real estate agent being able to service you well is their communication skills. Real estate agents should do a lot of listening and ask a few key questions. An effective real estate agent needs to understand your current financial situation, your needs for purchasing a home and your needs for selling a home.

It is important to remember that good communication is a two-way street. You need to be open and honest with a real estate agent to save both of you time and effort. If you aren't looking to buy or sell for an extended period of time (three months or longer), be up-front about that. Also be up-front about your financial situation. If you are a first time home buyer and only have three percent down for a home, let your real estate agent know that. You will be surprised at how innovative a real estate agent can be in helping you find solutions to your problems.

The final criterion for an expert real estate agent is his/her ability to use technology to help you with your home sale or home search. An expert real estate agent will be able to utilize electronic multiple listing services to gather information on housing availability for you. A real estate agent can also give you a list of Internet resources to help you investigate on your own and provide you with information on your options in a timely fashion. An expert real estate agent is also familiar with how to utilize modern communications to market your home for sale.

A key piece to having an expert real estate agent work for you is integrity. How honest is a real estate agent in dealing with you? Base your selection of a listing agent on their ability to market your home effectively and can prove that track record. Don't select a real estate agent based on the claim they will be able to get you the highest price.

So how do you determine if a real estate agent is expert and honest? Ask friends or family members for recommendations based on personal experience; ask the relocation director of a real estate firm to assign an agent that matches your needs.

Consider these points:

  • Is the real estate agent an expert in the geographical area you are looking to buy or the area in which you are selling?
  • How long has he/she been in the real estate business and how long with his/her current company?
  • Find out how many homes the real estate agent has listed in the area in which you are seeking to buy. Find out how long it took for each of those homes to sell and close. Ask how the final sale prices compared to the listing prices.
  • Ask for references of clients the real estate agent has serviced in the last six months and then actually call those references (get at least three references). Ask those references how effective the real estate agent was at servicing them. Would they use the real estate agent again?
  • The real estate agent should also be able to produce a list of on-line and community resources to help you profile a community. Meet the real estate agent in his/her office to see if you feel comfortable. Do you feel he/she is well suited to represent you for your home sale or purchase? If not, choose another real estate agent.