Finding the right real estate agent is harder than you might think; after all, there are over 2 million realtors in the US. It’s essential to work with the right agent to ensure a smooth process, whether it’s your first real estate transaction or you consider yourself a veteran.
Asking family and friends for a referral is still one of the best ways to find a good real estate agent. There are some simple yet important questions you should ask a realtor before working with them. Arrange a meeting with an agent once you feel you have found someone you can work with.
How many years have you been selling real estate?
Most realtors don’t last long in the industry without having a track record of sales, as real estate is a commission-driven industry. A realtor is much better equipped to handle problems and unexpected delays when working with you if they have overcome similar problems in the past and have been in business for at least a few years. However, remember that experience doesn’t always mean success.
On average, how many clients do you have?
You don’t want to feel ignored or neglected while your realtor is handling the needs of their other clients, and this is a polite way to make sure they will have time to devote to you. If you potentially need extra support and your realtor has a lot of other clients, find out how they plan to address that situation. Perhaps a licensed assistant can help you as and when you need it, or perhaps the realtor has other team members who can be called upon if necessary.
What is your ratio of buyers to sellers?
Many real estate agencies have agents who are solely dedicated to either buying or selling, and clearly, if you are buying a home, you may be at a disadvantage if your realtor works mostly with sellers. And in general, the process can be a lot smoother if just one agent can potentially handle the entire process. In other words, if you are buying a home and selling your current home if the same realtor can take care of everything for you, it’s a lot easier and quicker.
Which areas do you cover?
Ideally, when choosing a real estate agent, you want to compromise between someone who will make a sale just about anywhere in the country and someone who specializes in a relatively small local area. Most realtors still can’t retain the knowledge of a really large area, even though the Internet has meant agents can become somewhat familiar with a larger area. Working with a realtor who works in and around your chosen geographical area is probably your best bet. You don’t want to confine your search to an area that’s just too small simply because that area is the one your realtor specializes in.
Do you work as part of a team?
Members of a team often have more knowledge and experience, and the chances of one person being familiar with a particular situation are higher. However, right from the outset, it’s important to verify exactly what the relationship between you and the other people on the team will be. You may be working with different people during the entire process, or you may be assigned one real estate agent to work with, and it’s important to understand exactly what to expect. You don’t want to meet with a different agent each time you look at a house for sale if you were under the impression you would be working with the same realtor all the time.
Is the realtor able to address your specific needs?
Try to avoid working with an agent that has little or no experience in your area or isn’t at all familiar with your situation. You want to work with someone who gets your situation and your needs, whether you are buying homes to flip, are a cautious first-time buyer or a seasoned real estate investor. Ask your agent how they would tackle a specific or unique situation that you may find yourself in, and make sure they have the experience and know-how to tackle it for you.
How will you communicate with me?
Establishing how often you expect to be updated on any progress is important, and you want to work with a realtor who is generally communicative and keeps you in the loop. As you are the client, it’s important that you feel comfortable with whatever arrangements are made for effective communication.
Do you have a list of recommended vendors?
A good realtor will have accumulated a list of industry contacts that they can recommend and refer you to, and ideally, they will have more than one source, allowing you to determine your best fit. You have the right to choose who you work with throughout the entire buying or selling process, per the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act. Keep in mind that these are only recommendations, although when you need a title company, lender, inspector, or contractor, you can assume that any name you are given is established and trustworthy.
Can you provide three references and their contact information?
If a realtor has clients who didn’t like their service, you probably won’t be given their name and contact information, so keep that in mind. However, talking to previous satisfied clients should allow you to accurately assess whether you want to work with a particular real estate agent or not.
Any questions for me?
This is the opportunity for a realtor to get to know you and get an accurate feel for what you want, and the questions they ask you can give you a real feel for whether they put their clients first.