1. Meet agents out in their working environment, not in their offices. Good agents spend very little time at their desks.
2. Make sure the agent has closed many properties and has worked a few years at least. The average real estate agent closes only 1 or 2 houses a year. More closings mean more experience.
3. A great place to meet agents is at open houses. Don’t worry that you are not interested in that particular property. The agent knows that open houses rarely produce a buyer for that home and use the open house as a tool to find buyers.
4. Another good method is to contact the agent with whom a friend or relative worked. If this agent produced positive results for a friend, there’s a good chance they will do the same for you.
5. Make sure your agent is online. Having a web savvy agent is very important today as over 85% of all buyers initially see their homes online. Great agents have laptops and often have moved to mobile technology to assist. A real estate agent in today’s world must email, text, and be available to buyers and sellers alike.
6. Interview several agents. Whether you are looking for a buyer agent or seller agent. Remember though, agents will tell you what you want to hear. Make sure they are not selling you a dream partnership… you want to hire a realistic real estate agent. Don’t sign a buyers agreement form before looking for property (you should feel free to build trust with a real estate agent over several hours of looking before signing anything).
7. Look for signs that the agent is busy. A hard-working, go-getter of an agent is good. Be careful, sometimes they are too busy. A real estate agent can only effectively work with about a half-dozen buyers and a dozen sellers at any given time to properly give the time needed to a buyer. If they pass you to an “assistant”, move to another agent that will give their time to you.
8. It is important that your agent is knowledgeable. Ask questions about things you have learned through your new-found interest in real estate. If they don’t know more than you – after all, this is her livelihood! – go on to seasoned agent. Local knowledge is particularly critical especially in city settings.
9. An excellent agent is the most important to you when buying a home for the first time. They should have experience and should be able to guide you through the complexities of the process including lender info that you will have to provide. The loan process has become much more demanding and complex in 2010.
10. See how the agent’s MLS listings come up in searches. When listing in today’s market, all listings from small to big should have professional photos – this is the first sign of a professional real estate agent who understands today’s market.
11. How respected is the brokerage/agent… You want an agent that will network and work cooperatively with other agents. Seasoned agents tend to know the other agents in the area and have good working relationships with them. This tends to transform into good transactions.
12. Check the references that an agent should be able to provide you. Ask the other real estate agents you interview if they know the other agent and if they respect them as a real estate agent.
13. Ask your agent where they live. An agent that lives and works locally will have their finger on the pulse of the market and be able to answer important questions about the community. They should at a minimum know the schools where they work. This is especially important in large cities.
14. Ask “Can you recommend service providers who can assist me in obtaining a mortgage, making repairs on my home, and other things I need done?” Keep in mind here that a real estate agent should generally recommend more than one provider and shouldn’t receive any compensation (ethical issues tend to arise when this happens).
15. Ask how long the real estate agent has been working full time. It is not that newer agents aren’t capable, it just is a factor in making an informed decision. Many “experienced” agents are not always the best choice either. Especially if they haven’t kept up with technology.
16. Ask the agent if the real estate agent is a full time agent. Is this her only job? You should demand a full time agent.
17. Ask Who the agent is working for in the transaction, the buyer or the seller (a real estate agent selling a house almost always works for the seller and tend to spin things a sellers way)
18. Ask “How will you keep me informed about the progress of my transaction? How frequently?” Using what media? Again, this is not a question with a correct answer, but that one reflects your desires.
- Don’t expect an agent to call you instantly when you leave a message, but do expect a call back within 24 hours or a reasonable amount of time depending upon the situation.
- Don’t call your real estate agent after hours, past 9 pm or so. They have a life too.
- This is your most important transaction of your life, a seasoned real estate agent does this everyday and understands the many problems that arise during the process. Try to keep the big picture in mind.
- Your house / or the house you are buying is a commodity. Supply and demand within a neighborhood play an important role in pricing and timing of a sale. Try not to become overly emotionally involved in the purchase/sale of the property.
20. See a few properties in the same area on open house day, to get an idea about the house prices in your selected neighborhood. This will help to keep you from being completely blind-sided when you go to an agent.
21. Work with a Local Market Expert. There are real estate agents who specialize in working within a specific community. Even if you have a real estate agent that you like, you might be best served by a real estate agent who knows the area well, and can advise you about any adverse local market conditions that an outsider might not be aware of.
22. If you are a buyer, you want to work with a Buyers Agents (also known as a Buyer Broker.) This was you know your interests are protected in the transaction. Likewise if you are a seller, you want to work with someone that is experienced in representing the seller and securing the most qualified buyer at the best net profit for you. Not all agents are experts in working with buyers or sellers, so you need to ask specifics.