The Real Guide To Real Estate Agents

When it comes to putting your home up for sale, you don't need to take a hit-or-miss approach. You want to hire the right agent the first time. Agents come in all variations and doing your homework ahead of time can help you properly evaluate your chosen professional. Take a look a the following checklist and use it to help narrow down your choices when the time comes.

Overall qualities to look for.

  • Experience with selling homes like yours: In other words homes in similar price range in the area. Be especially mindful about how much experience the agent has selling homes in your neighborhood or town.
  • A full time agent: It's not unusual to have real estate agents who have not quit their day job, which makes it challenging to contact them.
  • Good knowledge of the general real estate business and its connected businesses: For example, you want someone connected to lenders, appraisers and home inspectors.
  • Well-regarded by other agents: You want someone who is known in the industry. 
  • Understands exactly what you are looking for in a home: You want someone who understands your needs. 
  • State licensed: This usually means they have met the standards for training and testing. If you want to go up one level, ask for a broker. These professionals are qualified to oversee agents.
  • Member of special real estate trade associations, such as the National Association of Realtors (NAR): Being members of these organizations gains them special access to market information, listings and pertinent data.

Conduct some interviews.

  • After getting some recommendations from family, friends and coworkers, narrow down your list of possibilities to a manageable few and schedule interviews. Give each candidate about 30-45 minutes of your time.
  • Query your candidate on the following areas:
    • How many homes have you sold in the past year? Ask to see some of those listings with the selling price. This will give you a good idea of how successful this agent has been with listings similar to yours.
    • Do you have references? Follow up by contacting those previous clients to find out how easy (or not) the agent was to work with. You don't want to hear that the agent did not return calls or failed to show the home enough.
    • How often will you contact me? Daily contact, unless a deal is in the works, is unreasonable, but at least weekly check-ins should be expected. A good agent will offer you email, text and phone contact.
    • How does your commission plan work? Be sure to understand the percentage on the sale and the possibility of the commission being split between more agents.

If you like the answers to the above, and more than one is qualified (which is very likely), go with your gut feeling and hire the agent you feel a connection with and that inspires trust and integrity.