Where to Find an Agent
There are several ways to connect with real estate agents who can assist you, including word-of-mouth referrals but also through online platforms.
Create a plan with a timetable at the start of your search. For instance, you could identify how many agent names you need, research them, then interview three agents. If you keep in mind the following process, you’re less likely to hire someone who does real estate “on the side”.
Real estate agents must be licensed by a state agency and must pass a licensing exam after taking a specific course of study required to become a licensed agent. Agents can also become real estate brokers after completing higher-level training and passing the broker licensing exam.
Realtors are referred to as members of the National Association of Realtors (NAR). They are bound to follow the Realtor’s Code of Ethics, which is why consumers can complain about agents for failing to follow the code.
Here are some places where you can start your search for an agent:
- Your own network. According to the NAR, about 40% of home sellers find their agent through this method. Talk to your friends and family members, including work colleagues and neighbors who have recently worked with an agent. It’s also important to utilize social media. When you trust someone’s referral, it has a lot of weight and helps you see how the agent manages the process.
- Check out each agent’s online presence, including social media sites, websites, and consumer ratings. Also, sift through your neighborhood to find Realtors and companies that list homes, and attend open houses to meet them in person.
- Official referral sources. If you plan to buy or sell in a community with a chamber of commerce, you may be able to locate agents active in their communities. NAR members can be found using the Find a Realtor form or a geographic search. Another way is to enlist the assistance of real estate brokerage firms, either a nationally recognized one or an independent firm with a strong local presence and reputation.
- Contact a referral agent. When you are searching for a property out of state and need to hire an agent in that area, but do not have enough connections to find the right one, a real estate referral agent is ideal. A referral agent will create a link between you and another agent so that you can work with the one you already trust and know, such as to list your property. The local agent will get a cut of the local agent’s commission as a payment.
7 Things to Look for in an Agent
After you have compiled several agents’ names, you can use certain attributes to narrow the field. Here are seven key factors to consider when hiring a real estate agent.
The NAR reports that the median tenure of member Realtors is eight years, so you shouldn’t have trouble finding an experienced agent. You may be able to identify specialists, such as those who work with first-time homebuyers or who sell/purchase condominiums in high-rise buildings, to work with.
2. Relevant Certifications
The NAR offers many real estate certifications that lead to designations like Accredited Buyer’s Representative and Seller Representative Specialist. These shows additional education and training. Senior citizens who are in the market to sell or purchase would benefit from working with a Seniors Real Estate Specialist (SRES).
3. Local Knowledge
A local agent can advise on a fair price based on recent trends in your neighborhood such as whether prices are trending up or down. If you want to know where to buy a home, they can help you find out what towns and neighborhoods might be the best for you based on your priorities, such as being close to schools, shops, and entertainment venues.
4. Marketing and Technical Skills
An agent must know how to make a good first impression online because most people search for homes online before they visit a property for sale. The images, videos and descriptions of the listing need to stand out, since it will be posted on multiple sites, including the brokerage site and consumer-oriented websites like Zillow. Also, your agent should be able to locate newly listed homes as quickly as possible, if not faster.
Full-time agents are more likely to be available when you call or text, and can set up last-minute viewings as soon as a home comes on the market. When interviewing agents, find out if they have the time to devote to your projects, whether it is taking the time to get a home ready to sell and show on your schedule or visiting several homes each week.
6. Level of Personal Attention
You need to decide whether you want to work with a single agent or with a team. A good agency will collaborate throughout the process and be available when you need them. Many decide they would rather work with an individual agent, as they feel more comfortable forming a friendship with one person who goes with them every step of the way.
7. Commitment and Contracts
The listing agreement you sign with your listing agent typically lasts two to six months. The commissions can vary, however, are usually around 5% to 6% of the purchase price, with half the amount going to the buyer’s agent. You can negotiate the agent’s commission if you decide to list with them.
You also want to know that your agent is working to your benefit. For instance, some brokerages handle both sales and purchases with separate agents. You may begin to feel concerned that your buyer’s agent won’t fight for a better purchase price simply because the commission would be higher.