Shopping for a Real Estate Agent

Any real estate agent can find a buyer for your home. All they have to do is offer it at a low enough price… That’s not the kind of real estate agent you want, though. You want someone who looks after your interests first. How do you find such a gem amongst the many agents who are vying to list your property?

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How not to look for a real estate agent

The biggest mistake home sellers make is to assume all real estate agents are alike. Instead of doing their homework first, they walk into the biggest agency in town, talk with the first available agent and give them their listing. This is a recipe for failure.

Of course, you don’t want to ignore the biggest real estate agency in town, but a consultation with one of their agents should be just one of the stops on your ‘shopping trip’.

Be a real estate sleuth

Bad news travels fast and bad news about real estate agents spreads like wildfire. It takes a little more research to find the good news about real estate agents. Some things you can do before you approach agents directly include the following.

  • Ask locals for their recommendations. Which real estate agency do they trust the most? Which agents are active members of their community?
  • Attend some open houses and observe how a number of agents work.
  • Find out how long a variety of agents have been working in the same area. In most cases, a real estate agent who has been working in the same area for many years will have a good track record of service.

An easy way to do your initial detective work is to use a good online service like Rate My Agent. A source for honest reviews from buyers and sellers who have actually bought or sold with a particular agent.

Shop and compare

Finding a great real estate agent is a little bit like finding an employee. You want to know that every applicant is qualified before you even consider them. Then you compare the applicants and choose the most qualified.

Having an employer mindset when you go shopping for a real estate agent will go a long way towards finding the right one. When you sit down for your initial consultation, take charge and ask them questions rather than just listen to what they have to say. Some things you want to discover include:

  • How well do they know the local market?
  • Can they give you sales figures for comparable properties they have sold?
  • When you give them the location of your house, do they know where it is located and what other properties in your neighbourhood are worth?
  • What is their marketing strategy for your property? What examples of their strategies for similar properties can they show you?

In other words, you want to make your selection based on their local knowledge and experience, not a sales pitch.

When you interview agents, look for signs they are genuinely interested in you and your requirements. A good real estate agent will listen to you and respond honestly and knowledgeably. They will be positive, but won’t be unrealistic. If the market is slow, they will tell you it’s slow. If your asking price is unrealistic, they will show you facts and figures to help you arrive at a more realistic price.

Choosing your real estate agent

After you’ve done your research and had some initial consultations, you should have a short list of agents to choose from. How did they compare on a professional level? How did you feel about them personally? Were you comfortable with them?

In the last analysis, a real estate agent’s experience, market knowledge and personality are more important than any deals they may try to make with you. If they offer a lower commission or make any guarantees such as ‘no sale, no charge for advertising’, be wary. Top real estate agents don’t have to discount their services because they offer value for money. The few dollars you save on a discounted service won’t make up for the dollars you lose on the final sale.

 

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