How to Choose a Real Estate Agent

How to choose a Real Estate AgentFinding the right real estate agent can seem like an overwhelming process. It’s like a kid standing in the cereal aisle trying to decide which box of sugary goodness to take home. The choices are limitless and the aisle seems to go on forever in both directions. Some options have such subtle differences you wonder if it even matters: Fruit Loops or Fruity Pebbles? Frosted Flakes or Frosted Cheerios? Corn Chex or Rice Chex? While there are as many different real estate agents as there are cereals, choosing the right one for you doesn’t have to be a migraine-inducing ordeal.

Some of you reading this may be thinking, “What are you talking about? My friend is a Realtor. Easiest decision ever.” If that’s you then I applaud your quick decision making skills, however, I would warn you to keep reading. For the rest of us who get decision fatigue between chocolate and vanilla, I have compiled this step-by-step guide for finding the best real estate agent for you and for your specific situation.

Step 1 – Make a List

You first want to collect names of potential real estate agents. The easiest place to start is with people that you know. Do you have a friend or family member that’s a Realtor? Do you have a friend that just sold or bought a house and was beyond satisfied with their agent? Is there someone on your street or at your church or at your preferred social gathering that is an agent?

“Often times these people have already done the dirty work of finding the best people for the job.”

If you don’t know any agents, then the next best place to start is with someone whose judgement you trust. Maybe it’s your boss, a city council member, your investment savvy uncle, or the guy down the street who is so anal about his yard he runs background checks on his lawn crew. Often times these people have already done the dirty work of finding the best people for the job.

And finally, if you have no one to ask and no clue where to begin, there is always the great equalizer: the internet. All agents have a personal webpage, and most of them have bios where they shamelessly plug all of their accomplishments. If you have nothing else to go with then this is really not a bad place to start.

All of these are possible sources for finding a real estate agent, but don’t hire them just yet. We are just collecting names at this point. During your search you will need to keep a few parameters in mind. Before you add an agent to your list, make sure he or she:

  • Specializes in your specific type of property (Single family home, condo/townhome, vacant land, commercial, etc.)
  • Sells in your specific town or county
  • Has a proven track record (i.e. has sold 10-12 houses/year for the past 10 years)
  • Can offer references from previous clients
  • Has their cell phone number listed on their website (you’d be surprised)
  • Has a photo – I don’t know why agents put their photos on everything, but they obviously want us to judge them based on their appearance. Do you feel more comfortable working with someone of your own age, race, or gender? Did you read a study that says Latino women in their 50’s sell 20% more houses than the average agent? Then discriminate away, my friends.

“Make sure your agent sells in your specific town or county and not in a market that is too far from yours to be relevant.”

Step 2 – Narrow It Down

Now that you have polled your friends and neighbors and have searched the internet for local agents it’s time to narrow your list down to three options. Why three? It’s manageable. Often times decisions are so taxing because of the amount of choices, not because the weight of the decision itself.

Use the parameters from Step 1 to help you. Make sure your neighbor’s best friend’s cousin is actually a local agent, and not an agent from a metropolitan area that’s two hours away. Read the agents’ personal bios; look for something that differentiates them from the crowd. Do they share your hobby of collecting shot glasses? Well then, they might just be a perfect fit. Sharing a common interest will go a long way. The more personal a connection you have with your agent the more they will genuinely care about you and your situation, and the more willing they will be to go to bat for you.

Don’t forget to search for online reviews. You can read about other people’s experiences with certain agents on Zillow, TruliaYelp, or a host of other websites.

Step 3 – Set Up a Meeting

Yes, set up a meeting. Don’t worry if you’re a socially anxious millennial, it’s not as intimidating as it sounds. Call each of the three finalists on your list and invite them to your house to present their case. Make sure to let them know that they are interviewing for a job. Tell them you are interviewing a few agents and will pick the one you like best. It’s good to communicate this up front so they don’t get the wrong idea and assume they’re already hired when they show up at your front door.

“Invite potential agents to your house so you can give them a job interview.”

At the meeting, find out the following information from each of the agents:

  • What is your experience in my local market?
  • What would be your listing strategy for my property (price, buyer incentives, days until first price drop, etc.)?
  • Besides listing my house on the MLS, what other forms of marketing will you do to get my house in front of buyers?
  • What is your fee? (Most agents charge the same percentage, but you will find the occasional agent who charges more or less)
  • What recommendations do you have for me to make my house more presentable and/or sellable?
  • Do you have some references that I can contact about your selling history? (Don’t forget to actually call the references and ask about the agent’s performance)
  • Why should I choose you over someone else?
  • Would you like something to drink? (I mean, they came all the way to your house to give a presentation, at least offer them some refreshment)

Step 4 – Make a Decision

This is the simplest step in the process. You should now have enough information so that one agent stands out among the rest. Keep in mind you don’t have to find the best agent this side of the Mississippi, just the one that’s best for you. You are hiring a real estate agent to represent you, just like you vote for your congressman to represent you. Someone who is great at politics may make a decent congressman, but wouldn’t you rather have a “regular guy” who can relate to you represent you in office? A real estate agent’s personal concern for you and your family can easily trump their experience in a given market.

Don’t forget to let the other agents know that they didn’t get the job. Or, at least make it clear that if they don’t hear back from you by a certain time they didn’t make the cut. No one likes to wait around wondering if they got the job or not.

That’s it. I hope this was helpful as you make plans to sell your property. If you have any advice of your own then feel free to add it in the comments. And of course, if you would rather avoid the hassle of choosing an agent or you want to avoid paying real estate commissions, then give us a call or fill out the form on our website. We can close in just a few days and save you a lot of time and hassle.

 

 

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