Monday, October 8, 2012

5 Tips for Choosing a Real Estate Agent

When you're ready to buy a home, choosing the right real estate agent is a crucial part of the equation. Depending on how long it takes you to find a home matching your expectations and price-point, you could have a relationship with the realtor for weeks, months, or longer. There are several factors to consider, ranging from your own feelings about the person, to their reputation, business acumen, etc.

5 Tips For Choosing a Successful Real Estate Agent
  1. Active License. Check the status of a realtor's license before you go any further. If their license is inactive, do NOT proceed. You want to work with a currently licensed agent who carries an active Errors & Omissions (E&O) insurance policy (like a malpractice policy for a doctor) so that you are legally and financially protected from start to finish.
  2. Recommendations. Ask family, friends, neighbors and co-workers for recommendations. The fact that your cubicle mate's cousin is a realtor might not be the best referral. But if your neighbor has used the same agent multiple times because they love him/her so much, that might be worth paying attention to. You can also use online referrals and ratings, via websites like Yelp and Angie's List, but always take online ratings with a grain of salt. We like to believe people are honest, but a positive rating might not be from a real client. Face-to-face referrals are always best.
  3. Conduct Interviews. Take the time to interview at least a handful of realtors to find the right match. Sometimes, people choose the most prominent agent in the ads, or the one that a friend or family member recommends. While these are great starting points for your search, it is worthwhile to get a feel for different agents. Consider things like:
    • Response time - How long did it take for them to return your call?
    • Timeliness - Did they honor the agreed meeting time? Were they on time?
    • Attention - Do you feel like you have their undivided attention or are they distracted or constantly focused on other clients' phone calls, texts, emails etc?

    These seemingly small things can end up making the difference in finding the realtor who is the most professional, ethical, and focused on his/her clients' needs.
  4. Do They Have Time? The real estate market is picking up and many agents are finding their appointment book is overflowing. You should ask potential agents flat out if they have the time to really give you focused attention. Listen for hesitations or forced cheer and honor your instincts. Hopefully s/he will be open and give you an honest yes or no answer.
  5. Are they a Buyer's Agent? Make sure the agent is willing to work with in-house sales as well as anything else on the market that meets your qualifications. They should be eager and patient in demystifying the home buying process 100% of the time.
At the end of the day, you need to feel good about the real estate agent you choose so above all else, honor your instincts. Trusting your agent is invaluable. Happy house hunting!


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