Making the decision to buy or sell a home is a big one – especially when you’re doing both at the same time. With signs up and ads all over town, finding a real estate agent is not too difficult; finding the right agent for you takes a little more effort and is critical to getting you the best deal. Here are a few tips from our friends at Bankrate.com to help you select an agent that is a good fit for you.
1. Get the Scoop
Ask the agent for a list of properties listed and sold over the past year with the client contact info. Find out from the agent if there are individuals on the list who are especially happy or disappointed with their experience. Then pick up the phone and start asking the past client questions, such as the asking price and final sales price, how long was the property on the market, and how they would describe their overall experience with the agent.
2. Check Licensing
States have boards that govern real estate agent licensing and ethics. You can often find this information online. Search your agent to ensure that proper licensing is in place and review any disciplinary actions that may be on the agent’s record.
3. Kudos Count
Real estate associations and brokerages recognize top performers with awards such as “Agent of the Year.” These are agents that are being recognized by their peers, and that carries some weight. Check for these designations on your agent’s profile.
4. What’s Their Specialty?
There are various credentials across different areas of real estate; be sure your prospective agent has the designations suited for your transaction. CRS (Certified Residential Specialist) has extra training in residential deals. ABR (Accredited Buyer’s Representative) has obtained specialized education for facilitating buyer transactions. SRES (Senior Real Estate Specialist) has training in assisting buyers/sellers in the 50+ age range. A Realtor® (with capital R) designation indicates the agent is a member of the NAR (National Association of Realtors) and has pledged to adhere to a code of ethics.
5. Newbie or Seasoned Pro?
An agent who has been in the business for 5 years or more is preferred. Typically, an agent with more experience in the market has a better understanding of the area and asking/selling pricing. Overall, you want someone who is actively engaged in the process and the local market.
6. Look at Listings
Scope out the agent’s current listings and their online presence. You can find listings on their brokerage or individual agency website or via Realtor.com. What is the price range of properties they are marketing? Are their properties comparable to yours or what you are looking for? Does their individual agent site look clean and professional? Look to see that the agency has a healthy amount of listing, but not so many that you’ll get lost in the mix.
7. Quick Quiz
Agents who are “in the know” will have a quick answer when asked about properties within certain ranges or details on properties that recently sold in the area. Ask about properties that are available, and an agent who is in touch will be able to rattle off a quick list.
We hope these tips help you in your home buying and/or selling journey!