Pro tips: How to find the best real estate agent for you

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Pro tips: How to find the best real estate agent for you
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Finding the right real estate agent is like finding someone to spend your life with: it may take longer than you think and requires a lot of work, but the perfect match is out there waiting for you — you just have to find the one.

While reading reviews and getting referrals from friends and family can be helpful, this may not be as valuable as you might think.

“When you lean on friends and family for recommendations, you may end up with an agent who doesn’t meet your exact needs. Finding an agent on popular websites can be problematic as well. Many agents can pay for placement on websites that rank by customer reviews,” suggests Sumant Sridharan, HomeLight COO.

Use the following tips to dig deeper in your search and find your real estate agent soul mate. The right agent will be the difference between a fulfilling and successful home buying or selling experience and one that’s stressful, drawn out and expensive.

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Pro tips: How to find the perfect real estate agent

Ask the right questions

When looking for a real estate agent, you’re interviewing them on what they can do for you — asking questions is a necessary part of this process.

“You’re entitled to get your questions answered and to understand the full picture before entering any contracts or agreements. If an agent doesn’t satisfactorily answer your questions—or refuses to discuss something with you — keep looking,” according to How to Choose a Real Estate Agent.

Add following questions to your list, or use them as a starting point:

  • What’s your experience like? Who do you normally work with?
  • How will we communicate? How often will you be in touch?
  • What’s your process for helping your clients look for a property to buy?
  • Can you provide references, or connect me with past clients of yours?
  • What is your strategy for negotiating offers and counteroffers?

In addition to interviewing, Sridharan suggests looking into their transaction history: “The best way to find a great real estate agent is by analyzing their transaction history. Then you can see how many homes they’ve sold in your area, the average time it takes them to sell a home, along with many other informative metrics. You’ll get a clear picture of who can sell your house faster and for more money.”

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Trust your instincts

Working with a real estate professional is like entering into a relationship, suggest experts at Vegas One Realty, which means you have to get along. If you don’t feel that personal connection in your gut, keep looking for another agent:

“If you don’t ‘click’ from the get-go, you’re not likely to get along well as the process moves along. No matter how impressive an agent’s resume or reputation is, if you don’t like them, move on to someone else.”

This is why the interview process, and asking the right questions, is so important. Knowing how you feel about them as a person and assessing their answers will guide you to the right person.

Look for specialty certifications

While general real estate agents can be valuable when buying or selling your home, like many other professions, having a speciality means they can provide you with that much more value.

“Doctors have specialties, and so do real estate agents. Even generalists will get additional training in some areas. So, the alphabet soup after an agent’s name can be an indication that the person has taken additional classes in a certain category of real estate sales,” says Dana Dratch, with Bankrate.

Dratch explains the top four specialties and designations:

  • CRS (Certified Residential Specialist): Trained in handling residential real estate.
  • ABR (Accredited Buyer’s Representative): Trained in representing buyers in transactions.
  • SRES (Seniors Real Estate Specialist): Trained in helping buyers and sellers in the 50-plus age range.
  • If they represent their title of “Realtor” with a capital “R,” they’re a member of NAR (National Association of Realtors).

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Test their availability

Buying or selling a home is stressful and sometimes things happen fast—and your agent needs to be able to react quickly, whether that means answering your panicked text message or the call for a cash offer. This is why it’s important to find an agent that’s available:

“Does your agent call you back when you have a question? Or do weeks go by with zero contact? Make sure that your agent is available to you—in appropriate amounts. They shouldn’t be at your beck and call, but they should be interested in answering your questions and keeping you informed,” says Genevieve Cunningham, with Coldwell Banker.

If you find a potential agent is impossible to get ahold of to nail down a time to meet or do a phone interview, they may not be the perfect real estate agent for you to work with.

Find your real estate soul mate

The right agent is waiting for you; you just to have to put in some work first. Use these tips to dig into your options and find someone who you “click” with. While it may take more time, you’ll end up having a better experience and find the home of your dreams — a win-win for everyone.

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  ↵Jessica Thiefels has been writing and editing for more than 10 years and is now a professional freelance writer and consultant. She's worked with a variety of real estate clients, and has written for Forbes, Inman, House Hunt Network, Remax and more. Follow her on Twitter @Jlsander07 and connect on ...Read more
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