Choosing the right realtor can make your home-buying or home-selling process much less stressful. Here’s how to find the right Realtor for your needs.
Buying or selling a home is a big decision, one of the most financially impactful you’ll ever make. A little expert guidance would be very helpful – but how can you find an expert you can trust? One who’s both knowledgeable and ready to look out for your best interests? It’s all down to choosing the right realtor.
That may seem easier said than done. In most places, you can choose between several or even dozens of real estate professionals. How can you find one that works for you? That’s what we’ll answer in this article.
Realtor, Real Estate Agent, Real Estate Broker, or …
First, let’s clear up some confusion around who’s who in the real estate industry. According to Realtor.com:
- “A realtor is a licensed real estate salesperson who belongs to the National Association of REALTORS®.
- A real estate broker runs an agency and has agents working under them. The broker must take additional courses and pay additional fees to maintain their state-issued broker license.
- A real estate agent is a state-licensed salesperson selling on behalf of the broker. Some states mandate that all real estate agents take additional coursework and pass another test to become associate brokers, who sell under a managing broker.”
It’s also good to know that there are usually two real estate agents involved in each transaction: a listing agent (who lists the house on behalf of the seller and represents them) and a buyer’s agent (who represents the buyer). While some states allow dual agency (one real estate agent representing both parties), it’s usually a good idea to have one person absolutely dedicated to your interests.
Regardless of whether you’re buying or selling, it’s important to find the right realtor for your unique situation. How exactly should you do that?
How to Choose the Right Realtor
First, do your own investigation. Learn about the real estate market where you want to live. Find out about current home sizes and prices. If you haven’t already, talk with a loan officer about your mortgage options and get a preapproval when you’re sure you’re ready to buy.
Next, research multiple realtors. You can start with referrals from friends or family or look online. Find out which ones have good reputations for communication, honesty, efficiency, and reliability. This person is going to act as your agent, so make sure they’re the kind of person you feel comfortable doing business with.
Create a list of at least three realtors and interview them. During the interview, try to determine their:
- Local knowledge. Deep knowledge of the real estate market is a given, but a good realtor will have more than that. It takes more than a certain monthly payment and a certain number of square feet to love a house; your realtor should also know what neighborhoods will mesh with your goals and personality – whether you’re looking for a quiet and upscale setting, a family-friendly area with great schools, or so on.
- Communication and people skills. How does the realtor handle negotiation? Are you comfortable talking with them? Are they happy to answer questions? Do they reply promptly to phone calls, texts, or emails?
- Experience. How long has the realtor been in the business? How long have they been in the area? If you’re selling your house, ask about how many homes they’ve sold in the past year, their selling percentages, and how they plan to market your home to buyers.
- Specialty. Does the realtor work mostly with buyers or sellers? If they focus more on one than the other, you might want to find someone with more expertise in your field. Also, what kind of properties do they mostly handle – commercial, residential raw land, special use? Again, if they focus on something other than residential, you might want to look elsewhere.
Finally, don’t forget to read any agreements or contracts between you and your realtor carefully. Make sure you understand everything and don’t hesitate to ask questions. A good realtor will be happy to explain things; a bad one will rush you into signing.