How Do I Find an Excellent Real Estate Agent?

It’s no secret that there are thousands of real estate agents out there. You may think they are all the same and hiring one is just as good as hiring another. The reality, however, is that some agents distinguish themselves by being dedicated to customer service and knowing the market inside and out. While interviewing agents for your next home sale or purchase, be sure to ask them about their past success and look for the agent that fits the criteria below.

A High Performing Agent…

…Works in real estate full-time. A part-timer cannot be there for you when you need them, and likely does not have the time to do thorough market research.  A full-time agent, on the other hand, has only one job, and that’s real estate. Your full time-agent has their phone nearby 24-7; in their pocket or purse during the day, and on the nightstand at night. Your full-time agent spends their “down time” doing research and studying the market so that they have answers to your questions.

…Is a REALTOR®. You may have heard the terms “real estate agent” and “REALTOR” used interchangeably, but there is an important distinction. An agent is anyone who has simply earned their real estate license. A REALTOR, on the other hand, must take an ethics course every two years and is held to a much higher standard of conduct.

…Knows the marketplace. This means that they visit as many homes as possible during the week so that they are familiar with the housing inventory in your area. They study the marketplace and know the ins and outs and ups and downs. If you are a seller, this means your agent knows the competition. If you are a buyer, it means your agent knows which homes best suit your needs.

… Is a great listener and communicator. They get to know you and your needs intimately. They should ask you a lot of questions and listen closely to your answers. They give you solid advice and provide accurate market data so that you can make educated decisions. They communicate with you in the way you want, and explain the process to you in detail. Your agent should never leave you guessing.

…Is a top-notch negotiator. Even if they seem like a gentle soul, they must be tough at the negotiating table to ensure your interests are protected and your goals met. A good negotiator keeps the emotion out of the discussion and focuses on the facts.

…Is proactive, not reactive. Rather than waiting for you to tell them what homes you want to look at, your agent suggests homes that they found while doing research for you.  If you are a seller, it means your agent is predicting how the market will shift and coming up with marketing strategies in advance, rather than reacting to changes.

…Is always learning more. A top agent is never content with what they learned in real estate school the first time around. As the market and laws change, your agent is attending courses and training to help ensure that they do not fall behind. They know that knowledge is power and understand that having a new skill goes a long way.

…Knows how to market your property. When you are selling a home, your agent is the gateway to buyers. Their job is to make your home look as good as possible, be available for showings, and have answers for buyers. They should bring in professional stagers, photographers, floor plan people etc. They have to be willing to spend their own money preparing your home for sale. If they use their phone for taking pictures, fire them. They have to be excellent marketers and be able to use the different marketing and advertising platforms available today including social media. They must be creative and cater their marketing to your property.

…Has a good reputation in the business. While a good agent may be a tough negotiator, they also know that being cordial and professional goes a long way. If your agent has a good reputation in the business, it can give you an edge in a competitive market. If you are a buyer, it can improve your chances of winning in a multiple offer situation; if you are a seller, it makes other agents more likely to bring their buyers to your home.

…Has a strong referral base. Real estate is all about relationships and total trust. If an agent gets repeat business from past clients or receives a large number of referrals, it is a sure sign that their clients are happy. When interviewing agents, be sure to ask how much of their business comes from past clients and referrals.

Remember: While your real estate agent must abide by your decisions, it is also their responsibility to ensure that those decisions are well informed. If your agent is not knowledgeable or is not available to provide professional advice, they are leaving you exposed to unnecessary risk.