Buying or selling a home can be a big undertaking on your own, especially if you have never done it before. A professional real estate agent can help you through the entire process by offering the knowledge, support, and advice that you need to make your goal of buying (or selling) a home a reality.

Realtors are licensed professionals with training and experience in home transactions. They relieve clients of the time and stress it takes to carry out a home sale or purchase from start to finish, including taking care of paperwork, arranging viewings, answering questions, and much more.

Above all, real estate agents are advocates for their clients. They represent a buyer’s or seller’s interests during negotiations (such as getting the best price for a home) and use their skills strategically to help clients succeed in reaching their property goals.

But like other professionals, no two agents are the same and there are many out there who are looking for your business. To find one that you feel comfortable with, trust, and who is qualified to carry out your sale or purchase, look for one with the following:

Experience With Property in Your Area

Most realtors have a wealth of knowledge when it comes to the real estate market, including current trends and conditions in the area they work in. They are expected to keep up with the latest real estate issues in order to stay competitive and give their clients the best advice.

Look for an agent that has a buying/selling history in your area. You may be able to find this out by searching for listings in the location you are selling or buying in.

Because real estate is a local business, hiring an agent who knows the area can help a buyer to determine if the neighborhood meets their needs in terms of affordability, lifestyle, and type of home.

Similarly, someone who has previously sold property in your home’s vicinity will know the approximate value of the homes comparable to yours, which will help you to set a listing price and get the most value from your sale.

Positive Referrals

Many real estate agents rely on positive word-of-mouth marketing to get business. This means that they work hard to make their current clients happy so that they will pass on their pleasant experiences to others.

Ask family and friends for a realtor referral or visit a realtor’s website or social media pages to see if they have positive reviews from past clients. Based on their success rate with others, you may be able to tell whether to get in touch with them or avoid contacting them altogether. You may also consider asking an agent directly for a list of past clients to review their sale history and client satisfaction rate before setting up a meeting with them.

It’s even better if you can find realtors who endorse each other. Positive peer reviews are a great sign that an agent is well respected by not only clients, but by the real estate community.

Licensed

When choosing to work with a professional, you want to ensure that they are just that: professional. Agents must be licensed in their state to legally help clients buy or sell a home. Each state has different requirements for obtaining a real estate license, including passing certain courses and exams, to become certified.

Find out whether the agent is licensed, and if so, whether they have additional training or specialties that might be relevant to your goals. Look for red flags, such as past complaints, bad reviews, or any other recorded issues.

Agents who are members of the National Association of Realtors must follow a code of ethics, which ensures they are acting ethically in their jobs and on behalf of their clients.

Research an agent’s credentials before taking them on. Not only can their credentials set them apart from their competition because it means they have undergone training in their field, but it means they are considered a professional in their occupation. Bonus points if they belong to an organization, which only adds to their credibility. If you are unsure about a realtor’s education or licensing, ask them.

Connected With Other Professionals

A good realtor knows how to network and, given their experience, has a large rolodex of individuals to refer to if they need. While a real estate agent has many roles during the home buying or selling process, they can’t do everything, such as provide legal aid or address your insurance needs. Because of this, they will often give you referrals to people they have worked with in the past, vetted from their own experience. These recommendations are valuable during a hectic time when you need to get all your ducks in a row quickly.

Online Presence

It’s important that a realtor have an online presence for many reasons, but mainly because it shows that they are transparent, they care about their reputation, and they are tech savvy, which could help in a practical sense by being able to successfully advertise online.

Check out their online brand, including their website, blog, social pages, and the like. See how they approach the business and interact with others, including past and present clients. Their reputation is a clear indication of how they handle themselves and whether they will be the right person to represent you.

Understands What is Important to You

You might not be able to affirm this quality until you meet or speak with several real estate agents. An agent should be able to assess your needs and apply them. For instance, if you are looking for a home, a good realtor will listen to your wants, take the time to understand them, and offer you guidance accordingly. Buyers and sellers must feel comfortable with who they are working with as the transaction could take time, sometimes up to several months.

Because buying or selling a home is big process, hiring someone you trust can make it easier and also give you peace of mind that you are in good hands.

Eager to Help

Your realtor serves as a liaison between you and a buyer or you and a seller. Who would you trust to help you?

Speaking to a realtor will give you an indication of their personality and willingness to stick their neck out for you. If you talk to one who does not express a genuine interest in taking you on, then find someone who is. You cannot afford to settle for someone who doesn’t “click” with you, or who doesn’t seem like they would be proactive on your behalf.

Instead, look for someone who is:

  • Honest;
  • Enthusiastic or passionate about what they do; and
  • Communicative.

The Right Realtor For You

Buying or selling a home can be an emotional and overwhelming process. Having a realtor by your side can help you in several practical ways, but it can also give you that much needed objectivity that you may be lacking if you were representing yourself.

Before settling on an agent, be sure to conduct your research, ask plenty of questions, and seek referrals, so you are comfortable sharing with them and have a good feeling about the relationship before proceeding.

What quality is most important to you when hiring a professional?

Posted by Kristy DeSmit

Kristy is a blogger, Twitter enthusiast, and company legalese interpreter.

7 Comments

  1. My husband and I really want to start looking for our first home and so we are interested in finding a good real estate agent. I definitely think that it would be especially valuable to us if we got one who had a great online presence. Knowing that, I will make sure to check out their website and social media accounts. However, is there a way for me to tell how well their online presence has influenced others?

  2. Hi Faylinn,
    Thank you for your comment. Some of the online trust indicators you can look for would be unsolicited testimonials or reviews of a real estate agent (on their website or otherwise), social media followers, and the amount of interaction an agent receives on their social media accounts or website/blog. This usually indicates that they are providing useful information. Hope that helps!

  3. I am very emotionally attached to my home. If I ever sold it, I would want to get a great price for it. So, I liked that you pointed out that a good real estate agent could help you stay objective when it comes to selling a home you love.

  4. Experience really is a huge thing to look for when choosing a real estate agent, especially if they have experience with properties in your areas as the article points out. After all, when you’re selling your home, you have to remember that the buyer won’t be moving into just your house, they’ll be moving into your neighborhood too. Because of this, it helps to have a real estate agent that can answer any questions they might have about the surrounding neighborhood.

  5. Hi Callum, great comment! We agree, real estate agents can be a great source of information on the neighborhood, including crime rate, amenities, walkability, parks, and much more.

  6. It might not be the first thing that people think of, but I do like that one of the article’s questions is about the agent knowing the property in your area. After all, if you are trying to sell your home it is likely that the buyer won’t know about the neighborhood it is in. Because of that, it definitely helps to have an agent that knows your local area and can inform buyers about it.

  7. Agreed! Thanks for your comment, Duncan.

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