Follow These 3 Steps to Find a Real Estate Agent
Follow These 3 Steps to Find a Real Estate Agent
When you’re planning to sell a home or buy a home—it’s a big deal. Sure, you can do it on your own, but it’s a complicated process and will take up a lot of your time. There are some things that are better left to the experts, and real estate is one of them.
Yes, we are a company with over 500 real estate agents, all operating in the Greater St. Louis area. So if you’re here, you’re already close to finding an agent! But more than anything, we want to make sure you find the real estate agent that is the best fit for you. And that’s true whether we turn out to be that agent, or not.
Here’s the issue: According to the National Association of Realtors, there are 1.3 million realtors in the United States! How on earth do you find an agent that will get you the results you want?
With a little thought and research on your part, you can find an agent that will make the home buying or home selling process a whole lot easier. We’ve got some tips for the best way to narrow the search.
The first step in finding a good real estate agent is to ask for referrals from people you know. Family and friends who have recently moved are a great source of information. You’ll get honest opinions from people who want the best for you and have nothing to gain by recommending, or steering you away from, any particular agent.
You also know how closely your acquaintances’ circumstances mirror yours. If they have a similar lifestyle, tastes, and budget, chances are an agent who was a good fit for them will also be a good fit for you.
Look in your own neighborhood if you’re selling, or your desired neighborhood if you’re shopping. Quite often a few names will show up on yard signs in a specific area. Finding a real estate agent that’s familiar with the market is important, and this can give you a clue as to who might be a neighborhood expert.
Once you gather a few real estate agents’ names, check their websites for their current listings. This is especially important when you’re buying. You don’t need to find your dream home among what’s offered, but you want to be sure the homes listed fit your criteria and budget. An agent might specialize in million-dollar suburban homes, condos in the city, rural properties with acreage, or vacation homes. Make sure to find someone who can match your wish list.
Research—Do a Little Digging
Once you’ve checked that the potential agents on your list deal with homes that fit your needs, it’s time for a little more investigation.
Most real estate agents have a strong online presence with a website and active social media accounts. Much of their success depends on having good name recognition in the community where they work, so they work hard to develop positive relationships with their clients.
To learn about a real estate agent’s reputation, online reviews can be a good place to start. Remember, though, reviews don’t always tell the whole story. Not everyone who is happy bothers to write a review. And negative reviews should be taken in context. Being unhappy because an agent arrived a little late to a showing is significantly different from a complaint about unprofessional or unethical behavior.
Also, be aware that any company can lay down cash on a slick advertising campaign. High-profile advertising is no guarantee that a real estate agent will do a good job for you. Instead, look for an actual endorsement from a trusted source.
Check that the agent is licensed and has the appropriate credentials. Are they members of a professional organization? A few examples: NAR (National Association of Realtors), CRS (Certified Residential Specialist), ABR (Accredited Buyer’s Representative), or SRES (Seniors Real Estate Specialist). You can also contact the Better Business Bureau for their ranking, and make sure there are no disciplinary actions pending by state regulators.
Review—Interview the Candidates
By now your research to find a real estate agent has hopefully narrowed your search down to three or four contenders. Now it’s time to meet them face-to-face.
This is essentially a job interview. Don’t be shy about asking questions so you fully understand the process. You are looking to find the real estate agent who will do the best job for you. Here are some questions to ask and what to look for:
Do Your Homework and Trust Your Gut to Find a Real Estate Agent
Getting referrals, doing some research, and asking questions during interviews are the keys to finding the right real estate agent. You need to find someone who you trust, and who listens and understands you. Quite often, the choice comes down to who you “click” with. There’s nothing wrong with basing your decision on personality, provided they have all the professional attributes to go along with it.
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