How to Choose a Real Estate Agent – 5 Tips

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In today’s hot real estate market, you need to be able to act quickly.

Houses quickly fly off the market, many receive several offers and more than half selling above the asking price. This is in addition to the already complex process of paperwork, negotiations and huge sums of money.

This is why the vast majority of home buyers and sellers work with a real estate agent: 89% of sellers and 88% of buyers, according to the data National Association of Realtors… “I wouldn’t buy or sell a house without an agent,” says Stephen Brobeckis a senior fellow at the American Federation of Consumers, a non-profit consumer advocacy organization.

With over 3 million licensed real estate agents in the United States, finding one is easy. But just under 6.5 million homes were sold last year, so you might have to work a little harder to find an experienced agent who is well versed in your local market.

Most agents are competent enough, Brobek says, but an experienced agent can help you figure out the little things you need to do to make the best deal or deal for your home.

Working with the right real estate agent can help make buying or selling your home a smoother experience. Before you sign in with the first real estate agent you find, here are five tips to make your search for the perfect real estate agent a little easier.

5 tips for choosing the right real estate agent

one. Be ready

If you are prepared and know what you want, it will be easier for you to find an agent that suits your needs.

As a buyer, you should receive pre-approved for mortgage ahead of schedule. “It is very important for the buyer to be eligible for the mortgage,” says Brobek. “Many of the best agents won’t really be that interested in you if you don’t [pre]eligible for a mortgage. ” Once you know how much home you can afford, you can talk to agents with experience with the types of properties in your price range. As for sellers, you can search sites like Zillow or Redfin to get a rough idea of ​​the value of your home and how long it might take to sell.

Understanding which segment of the real estate market your property belongs to, such as a residential complex or investment property, can also help you choose an agent. If you are selling your family’s vacation home, you might not want to work with someone with experience working with new buyers.

2. Ask friends and family for recommendations

When you are looking for an agent, you will need to interview several people, and a good place to start looking is your existing network. Family, friends, and colleagues who have recently bought or sold a home can be great sources of unbiased advice from real estate agents.

You can look at online reviews of local agents, but you should be suspicious of them. “Almost all of these reviews are created indirectly by the agents themselves, so there is a positive bias,” says Brobek. You can also look at the presence of an agent on social media, which can also be a good marketing tool if you are selling a home. “You can get a good idea of ​​someone based on what they share on Facebook and Instagram and decide if you would really trust that person with your very valuable assets,” says Karin Karr, a licensed realtor. and CEO Houses on the Georgia coast

3. Find someone who is active and experienced in your area

When interviewing agents, be sure to find out how long they have been in the industry and whether they work in real estate part-time or full-time. “It worries me that if someone does it as a side activity,” says Carr. What if they’re not available when you want to look at homes because they work full time, Carr explains. To get an idea of ​​what kind of experience someone has, you can also ask to see a list of their recent transactions to see what areas and types of property they have worked with.

You will need someone who knows the nuances of the local market where you buy or sell. And it can be helpful to have someone who lives relatively close to where you buy or sell. “I would pick someone locally, but within reasonable limits, it doesn’t have to be someone who lives in that particular area,” says Carr. If your agent lives a few hours away from you, this may limit their availability for last-minute appointments.

four. Find someone who suits your needs and personality

The main reason it is so important to meet and interview multiple real estate agents before choosing one for the job is because of the right personality match. “There is an advantage to interviewing a person in person rather than over the phone,” Brobek says. “You are going to pay them a lot of money. If they don’t find the time for a personal interview, I’ll look for someone else. ” It’s important to trust your agent and feel like you can rely on him when you run into problems.

The right agent can also help you navigate the emotional side of buying a home. “This can be a very stressful deal. We’re talking about a lot of money changing hands, especially if you’ve never done it before, ”says Carr. You will want to work with someone whose style and experience suits your needs.

Be clear and straightforward about your expectations and make sure your agent is comfortable meeting them. “I have a friend who said he was closed on Sundays,” says Carr. “Every time he meets a new client, he says,“ I just want to be sincere with you. I do not work on Sundays. If this is going to be a problem. Let’s talk about it.'”

Professional advice

Find out in advance what hours your agent is available to make sure it suits your needs.

Ask your potential agent:

  • What hours are they available for screenings.
  • What hours are they ready to answer questions.
  • Their preferred communication methods.
  • Will you work directly with them or mainly with an employee or assistant.

five. Know what you give and receive

Once you find someone you want to work with, you will usually need to declare this commitment in writing. A typical exclusivity agreement with a real estate brokerage is for three months, and a seller’s listing agreement is for an average of six months. However, the duration of these contracts can be negotiable depending on the market and your needs. Just make sure you are comfortable with the length of your commitment.

Real estate agents work on commissions, and typical agent commissions range from 5% to 6%. But if you are a buyer, you will not pay anything out of your pocket. This fee is usually paid by the seller after the sale of the home and is divided between the buyer’s and seller’s agents.

You can take a closer look at them or negotiate agent fees, Brobek said. If the home value is high, the total dollar value of the commission can be high, even if the percentage is slightly lower. But the lowest commission may not always suit you. “The real question should be not only how much do you charge, but what do you do with that money?” Carr says. Home marketing costs are covered by the agent’s commission, so a lower commission can mean less of a push to sell your home. When discussing commission rates, make sure you understand not only what you are paying, but what you are getting.

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