Having a great real estate agent in your corner gives you a serious advantage as you go out looking for your dream home, but how do you find the right agent for you? It’s not necessarily the agent that works for the biggest real estate company, or who makes the most sales (though it doesn’t hurt) nor is necessarily the one you get along with the best. In any case, one thing is certain: before you find a great home, you need to find a great real estate agent. Here’s how:
Word of mouth is crucial. Yard signs, internet ads and direct-mail flyers notwithstanding, most successful real estate agents become successful because satisfied clients refer them to friends, family and neighbors. So ask around. If you know someone who bought a house recently, find out who their agent was, and ask them to describe their experience. The best real estate agents tend to be the ones your friends are happy to recommend wholeheartedly. You’ll find this is one of the best ways to find a great real estate agent.
Realtor vs. Real Estate Agent
All Realtors are licensed real estate agents, but not all real estate agents are Realtors. The term “Realtor” is a registered trademark of the National Association of Realtors, and all Realtors are bound by the 17 articles and underlying standards of practice that make up the NAR’s Code of Ethics. Does that mean that all great real estate agents are Realtors? Of course not. But it’s important to know who you’re working with.
There are countless websites that can refer a real estate agent to you, but whether or not you can trust these sites’ recommendations is another story. After all, the agents these sites recommend are the ones that have paid the fee to be listed there. A better approach is to Google some of the top real estate companies in your area, and check out the profiles of individual agents. Most experienced agents will put their credentials in plain view. If an agent catches their eye, see if you can find some customer reviews online.
Track Houses in your Neighborhood
The best way to find a great real estate agent is often to look close to home. Keep an eye on “for sale” signs in your neighborhood—or in neighborhoods where you’d like to buy a home—paying special attention to houses that are sold quickly. The agent that sells homes quickly is often better than the one with the most homes for sale. Another tactic is to browse real estate ads in your local paper. Do a little research on agents who have homes for sale in a particular area; chances are they’re experts on that neighborhood.
How long a real estate agent has been in business is an important consideration. Most experts recommend working with an agent who has at least five years of experience, but that isn’t to say that a real estate agent with less experience can’t do a good job. Less experienced real estate agents typically have fewer clients, which means they may be able to give you more time and attention.
You will also find this article helpful (And show you what to look for in a new home): 9 Ways To Add Value To Your Home