6 Tips for Choosing a Real Estate Agent
Selling or buying a home can be complicated. Many people rely on a real estate agent to help seal the deal. A good real estate agent does the majority of the heavy lifting — from marketing your home, navigating you through important documents you’ll need to sign to helping you find your next abode. It’s a lot of responsibility so you want to make sure he can get the job done.
So, how do you find the right one for you? Here are six helpful tips to consider when choosing a real estate agent.
1. Self-Assess the Value of Your Home
If you’re selling your place, think about what makes it special and take an honest assessment of the projects you didn’t get a chance or the time to address. Making a list of your home’s selling points and potential issues can be helpful prep work for your upcoming price discussions with prospective agents.
2. Welcome to the Neighborhood
Make sure your agent is familiar with the neighborhood. Ask friends or family who’ve recently bought or sold a home in your area or consider looking at “For Sale” signs in your neighborhood to potentially spot a few agents who are frequently selling in the area. According to U.S. News and World Report, an agent who knows the neighborhood can tell you what other properties in the vicinity are selling for, what prospective buyers are really looking to see in your home and more.
3. Agent’s Specialty
You may want to work with a real estate agent who frequently deals with homes in your price range. Agents who normally sell fixer-uppers might not know all the ins and outs of high-end properties and vice versa, suggests HGTV. Those agents who work within a specific price range likely have a stronger knowledge of the amenities, fixtures and overall house conditions within that range, says U.S. News and World Report.
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4. Conduct In-Person Interviews
Some experts, like Dave Ramsey, recommend interviewing potential agents in person to help make sure everybody’s on the same page. You may also want to request references and check them. Put together a list of tough questions — What’s the average length the agent’s properties have been on the market? What sets this agent apart from others? What is the agent’s average list-price-to-sales-price ratio? Don’t be afraid to walk away if you don’t like the answers.
Be sure there’s a personality match, as well. You’ll be working closely with your real estate agent — driving from showing to showing and making plenty of plans — so you want to feel comfortable and be confident you’ll work well together.
5. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask About Fees
Real estate agents make a commission when your home sells, typically between 5 to 7 percent, says U.S. News and World Report. But these fees may not be set in stone, and agents could be willing to negotiate their commission — especially if you use the same agent for the sale and the purchase of a new property. If you do interview prospective agents, remember to add commissions to your list of questions.
6. Do Your Homework
An extensive online search on your prospective agent can tell you a lot about how he works. Is this agent active online? Does the agent get good customer feedback and ratings? Has the agent written industry articles or commented thoughtfully on other industry articles? An agent who doesn’t have an online presence might be behind the times.
There are a number of factors that go into picking the right real estate agent. With some research and by asking the right questions, you’ll likely be able to choose the one who fits your needs.