Having a good real estate agent is crucial if you want to have smooth and problem-free real estate transactions. This is true whether you’re a seasoned veteran or someone who is just making your first real estate deal. The trick is how to find the right agent for you from more than 2 million licensed agents in the U.S. alone.
A good real estate agent would be essential whether you are buying a house or the one selling it. Your agent will help walk you through all the steps and processes. He will be able to answer a platoon of technical, tactical and financial questions that may arise in the course of the transaction. Having a good agent will save you hours Googling for facts and answers to your inquiries.
How To Research For A Good Real Estate Agent
A good real estate agent would have a clear understanding of the ins and outs of your area’s housing market. Here is a compilation of the best areas to find someone who can help you in this particular field.
REALTORS® and Real Estate Agents
All REALTORS® are licensed to do what other real estate agents and brokers can primarily do – to sell real estate. However, not all real estate agents can call themselves REALTORS®. In fact, only REALTORS® have the right to display the REALTORS® logo.
REALTORS® are members of the National Association of Realtors, which is the largest trade association in America with some 1.2 million members. They have pledged to follow their Code of Ethics, a comprehensive list containing 17 articles and underlying standards of practice. They establish levels of conduct that are higher than ordinary business practices or those laid down by law. Today, less than half of licensed agents are REALTORS®.
Ask Family Or Friends For Referrals
From NAR’s 2016 Profile of Homebuyers and Sellers Report, it says that 42% of buyers used an agent referred to them by relatives, friends and neighbors. Fifty two percent of first-time buyers specifically relied on referrals.
Most real estate agents rely on word-of-mouth advertising from satisfied customers who tell their friends and relatives. You may ask the people around you if they have tried some agents and what their experiences were with them. Successful agents are customer-oriented and make sure that their clients’ needs are satisfied before their own.
It would be great if you could find an agent who will go out of his/her way to serve your needs. This agent would probably be extremely popular among your contacts.
Search Online For Agent Listings
The Internet is teeming with websites that will refer agents to you but you should be careful.
Not all of them may be what you are looking for and there is no assurance of the quality of service. The agents they will refer have probably spent money so that these websites will endorse them to the sites’ visitors. It would serve you better if you just Google the top real estate agents in your area and visit their websites.
This way, you can personally look up the profiles of the individual agents near your area. Experienced agents will declare it on their profiles but they are usually busier than other agents. The newer ones will be less busy and will have more time for you. Pay attention to customer reviews if they are available at all.
Use Print Advertising
Many real estate agents still run their own ads.
First, they do this to be able to sell real estate. Secondly, they do this to promote the agents. You may check out your local community newspaper for house ads in your desired neighborhood. Then, you can look up the websites of the agents or companies who are advertising. These agents could likely be the local specialists in the neighborhood. Talk to them so you can get an idea of their experience and how they deal with customers.
Things To Consider When Choosing The Right Real Estate Agent
1. Level Of Experience
How do you get an agent that somebody just referred to you?
You can ask their previous clients about the pros and cons of working with them. It is especially important for first-time homebuyers to find a really helpful real estate agent. They need someone who will “show them the ropes” because the process can be complicated and overwhelming at times.
A good agent should be thorough and meticulous. Make sure you have someone with you with an eye for detail and can spot things not very obvious at first glance. For example, the bathroom might be nice but the ceiling has signs that the roof is leaking. In other words, you have to find an agent who really wants you to find a good deal and not one who just wants to close one. There may be some unscrupulous agents who might take advantage of your inexperience.
Experience is key and it doesn’t just mean the length of years in the business.
While it is a fact that experience doesn’t equate to success, there is some merit in it. Real estate is a commission-based business and it would be next to impossible for an agent to survive for a long time giving bad service. An agent who has been through many situations will have developed some maturity in dealing with problems that may come up later.
2. Neighborhood/The Area
Knowing exactly in which neighborhood you want to live can help with your agent search and ultimately, during your house hunting. The more narrow your area of preference, the better odds you have in finding an agent with the best-fit experience.
Observe the listing signs in your neighborhood, paying attention to when they came up and when they disappeared. Not all agents will put up a ‘Sold’ sign so do not rely on it. You might be better off getting an agent with a faster sales rate than one with the most ‘For sale’ sign. Results work better than volumes if we were to consider your need at the moment.
Also, you will normally find agents who work within your area and others who will travel across states to make a sale.
It’s better to find someone in the middle, if you can. The Internet provides agents with the ability to cover a broader territory but it doesn’t mean they have an intimate knowledge of the market of each location. Conversely, a “neighborhood expert” may try to hard sell you into a house that does not fit your requirements. Find an agent who covers both in and around your primary area of interest.
3. Recommended Vendors List
Experienced agents usually have established trusted relationships with other industry professionals during the course of their dealings.
Your agent would have multiple sources to recommend – lenders, title companies, contractors, inspectors, designers, etc. You can just filter them out and determine the best one for your needs. The agent can only recommend and nothing more. The Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act gives you the right to select whom you would like to work with at any phase of the deal.
After some time, you would have already observed how you and your agent communicate with each other.
It is important to agree on your expectations for things such as: how often you should be updated, what communication channels to use and who needs to know what. You can require this from the agent because as a client, he/she should provide what would make you comfortable.
A good agent would be able to judge if he/she is meeting your needs but the best source would still be former clients.
Keep in mind that agents won’t use past clients with not-so-good experiences as references. So, take what their references say with a little bit of discernment. A good technique is to ask focused on open-ended questions based on your priorities.
6. Up To Date Agent’s License
Before you formally hire your agent, there is one very important thing you must check: your agent’s license.
To verify if your agent has a current license, go to your state’s real estate department website and look up his/her name. Aside from seeing if he/she has a valid license, you can also find out if the agent has faced disciplinary action.
Laws and regulations do not set brokerage fees – industry practice normally dictates them.
The agent charges commission as his rate for handling the transactions. Ask your agent if there are other fees you have to pay. Some agents ask for early cancellation fee, marketing fee, MLS fee and some other costs on top of the commission rate.
What Should You Expect When Working With A Real Estate Agent?
Once an agent lists your home, he or she will immediately begin to market your home to prospective buyers. An agent may use various marketing tools but many experienced ones will know what will be most appropriate for your property. Your agent will keep you updated about the entire process as well as in all expressions of interest he/she receives.
Be sure to specify the communication channel you prefer. Some clients are okay with email updates while others would want personal phone calls or face-to-face meetings. Whatever is your choice, it is best to inform your agent so that everyone is working with a clear definition of expectations.
The same guideline is applicable to buyers. Since buyers require agents to show them as many properties as possible and receive updates and feedback, communication is essential. If text messages work for you, just tell your agent. Not all forms of communication are acceptable to all people so specify to your agent what you prefer.
Every customer appreciates professionalism. If you require your real estate agent to be always on time for your appointments, so should you. It is always good to conduct business such as real estate buying and selling in a professional manner even if you are the client.
Remember, the real estate agent is on your side whether you are buying or selling. Once you have signed up with an agent, he/she becomes your official representative. He/she is your face, your voice, your image and the defender of your interest in the complicated layers involved in the home buying or selling process.