[M03/S04] How to Choose a Real Estate Agent

How to Choose a Real Estate Agent

Did you know that in most states, it takes about 10 times as much course work to get a beautician’s license as compared to a real estate license? And that about 80% of people who get into the real estate sales business are out of it within 5 years? Would it surprise you to learn that many real estate agents sell fewer than six homes per year? In other words, most real estate agents working today are poorly educated, trained, and with little practical experience. That’s why it’s very important to know how to choose a real estate agent.

To make sure you get the most possible of your home when you go to sell it, you want your real estate professional to have many qualities, including experience, market knowledge, and great communication and negotiation skills. One reason so many home owners end up working with bad or mediocre agents is because over 60% of them list their home with the first agent they talk to.

A smart homeowner, however, will take some time to look around for a great agent. You can find some agents in a jiffy by looking on Zillow and Yelp, both of which have agent reviews on them. Not all top agents will have Zillow and Yelp reviews – they might not need to bother with them. But if you don’t know any top agents, then you can find some agents to talk to on Zillow and Yelp who have a number of good reviews.

Also, ask some friends and family if they can refer you to an agent, as they may know a good one. Be sure to ask what they liked and disliked about how the agent conducts business, not what the agent is like on a personal level. After they refer you, be sure to check that agent out on Zillow and Yelp again, to be thorough. Some agents are really dominant in an area – if you see one agent’s sign in front of a lot of different houses in your neighborhood, go ahead and check them out again on Zillow and Yelp, and if they seem good, go ahead and give them a call as well.  Also, consult with neighbors who have recently bought or sold their homes, how their agents performed for them.

Seek an Agent With the Right Experience:  Neighborhood specialists have house-by-house market knowledge that is invaluable when you are comparing your home to others. While residential agents are licensed to sell any property in the state, you want your agent to have experience with the type of home you own whether it’s a single-family, condo, high-rise, rural property, vacation or investment property.

Interview at Least Three Professionals: The National Association of Realtors recommends that you interview several agents before making your decision. Compare their experience, marketing plans, networking abilities, and commission rates, with the understanding that service levels should and will correspond with costs.

Look for excellent communication skills. Hire an agent with skills that will complement your preferred methods of communication; for example, if you like to text message, hire an agent that uses text messaging. Ask your agent how frequently he will be in touch and when to expect reports about your listing.

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What to Learn about a potential Agent

Will you represent me exclusively? Or will you represent both the buyer and seller in the transaction? This helps you understand service levels and responsibilities owed to you as the seller.

How do you plan to market my home? The marketing plan almost always includes a listing in the local multiple listing service (MLS), but there may be other means for your home to be presented. Ask the agents to show you examples of their marketing materials and ads that they’ve done for other homes. Ask how the agent plans to market via the Internet, mobile devices, and in the local newspaper.

What is your level of experience? There’s no substitute for experience, except enthusiasm. A new agent will have close supervision by the managing broker, so you’re likely to get the same level of service as a more experienced agent. But an agent who has been through buyer’s and seller’s markets knows what can go right or wrong in any market and is more likely to be prepared for challenges. A more experienced agent will also have a large database of buyers, investors, former clients, and other agents they can market your home to.

Do you hold any designations, and what are your specialties? Agents who hold designations have undertaken additional learning opportunities than those required by the state. This shows motivation, commitment to ongoing training and education, and a strong sense of professional pride.

Why should I choose you over other agents? The answer you get to this question may be specific including the number of years on the job, the agent’s ranking (if available), the list-to-closing price ratio, the average number of days the agent takes to sell a home compared to the general market. You will want to listen to hear if the agent does anything differently than competing agents which you think will truly and genuinely result in a quicker sale with a higher sale price.

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About the Author
Seb Frey helps long-time Bay Area homeowners make their next move easily the next one yet. If you're looking for a minimum of hassle, maximum net cash on sale, and certain results, contact Seb today.