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June 03, 2014 | home-buying

How to Choose the Right Real Estate Agent

Having a proper agent, whether buying or selling a property, is a very important piece of the real estate puzzle. Before you commit to one, do some due diligence on your prospective candidates, which can include internet research and interviewing them personally. This is not a choice that should be taken lightly because, after all, this is the person who is going to help you with one of the largest transactions of your lifetime.

Here are some things to consider as you go about choosing the right one for you:

When Selling:

  • Advertising: How does the agent approach getting listings in front of the most potential buyers? What strategies do they use and why?
  • Support Personnel: A real estate agent who has assistants, especially licensed assistants, will likely have more time to work for you. On the other hand, they may want to pass you off to the assistants. Ask them up front how available they will be for you and how much time and effort they intend on dedicating to your sale.
  • Open Houses: These generally require sellers and their pets to be out of the house for long periods of time. Ask how often the agent plans to have open houses, what day(s) of the week, and how long they will last so that you can make plans accordingly.
  • Current Listings: Look at the homes they are currently selling or have just sold. Do you like the way they present them? Does the agent have too many current listings so that your property might never be a priority?
  • Sales Window: Ask how long they think it will take to sell your property. A reputable agent should provide this information. Compare their answer to what your own research tells you about the local market. If they seem overly optimistic, they might be just telling you what you want to hear and couldn’t possibly hope to deliver on such a prediction.
  • Commission: An agent’s commission is negotiable. Your first inclination might be to get them for the lowest rate possible, but before you do that, consider this: If you pay them the going rate and don’t try to negotiate them down, they may work harder for you.

When Buying or Selling:

  • Recommendations: Perhaps a friend or family member raved about the agent in their recent real estate transaction. You can also ask the agent for a list of clients and talk to them yourself to get a feel for their qualifications. If word of mouth is strong, it could well point to the real estate super star you need.
  • Awards: Have they won any local, regional, or national real estate awards? If so, this means they are recognized by their peers and their industry as being among the best.
  • Experience: How long have they been doing this? Longer seems better than shorter, as their accumulated knowledge will be to your advantage. On the other hand, someone who is newer to the business might be hungrier and more motivated and that might more than make up for what they haven’t learned yet.
  • Knowledge: Test them a bit. What is their expertise on your area? Do they know things off the tops of their heads or do they have to refer to research sources for all of their answers?
  • Dedication: If you suspect as much, you should ask your possible agent if real estate is a part-time or second job for them. If so, the agent might not be able to provide the quality of service you need. Having other commitments is not necessarily a roadblock to providing good service, but be clear about the situation before you sign on.
  • Credentials and Licensing: Has your prospective agent added to their resume with extra real estate coursework? Have they earned a Certified Residential Specialist (CRS) certificate or one for being an Accredited Buyer’s Representative (ABR)? Is their license in proper order? Check with the state to see if there have been any complaints filed against them.

And if you’re buying a house, don’t forget to get prequalified for a low-rate Amplify mortgage. Then, when you’ve found the right agent, you’ll know how much you can spend, and it will make for a more productive home search!

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