I hate to say it, but you need to know the truth: all agents aren’t created equally. Some truly enjoy helping you buy the home of your dreams or sell your house and start a new phase in your life, while others simply don’t.
Additionally, certain agents are just more experienced or have better negotiation skills. So, how do you find the right real estate agent who will fight for you while you’re navigating the complicated (and expensive) streets of home buying and selling?
Ask previous clients
One simple way to discover if your agent will be great for you is to talk to his or her previous clients. First, you should ask your agent if there are any particular people they’ve worked with recently that will be disappointed. Then, give your agent a chance to explain themselves.
Agents aren’t perfect, but sometimes they’re expected to be and are blamed for circumstances that are out of their control. For example, if an appraisal comes back very low or high and the sale is unable to close at the accepted price, this could be something completely unpredictable.
After you’ve asked about exceptions, you can get a list of past clients and their contact information (as long as the previous clients agree to be called). This will generally help you understand how the agent has performed in the past.
If you don’t want to give anybody a call, there are often review sites online that you can look at, such as your agent’s Facebook page. It’s important to keep in mind that you should disregard the few exceptionally low or high reviews and instead choose to focus on the average.
How long have they been in the business?
This one isn’t always a great way to tell if the agent will be right for you, but it can usually help.
It is true that new agents are still learning and won’t know as much as an experienced agent. However, this could mean that they will bend over backward for you to prove themselves and help you as much as possible.
Another thing to consider is that every agent has a more experienced broker they must work under who they can usually go to for questions. If the business is smaller and the agent can go to the broker for every question they have, you might not even realize they’re new. However, there is the risk that the broker will not be able to help on a regular basis, leaving you with an agent who doesn’t know much about the market or the business.
This comes down to you. If you trust the new agent to work extra hard to compensate or you know through previous customers that agent’s lack of experience doesn’t affect the process, hire them. Otherwise, search for a more experienced agent in your area.
Ask about their previous listings
This accomplishes a couple different things if you’re looking to sell your house. First, you should look at how long the listings were on the market.
If it’s a very slow market period, it isn’t the agent’s fault if they don’t sell quickly. If you’re unsure about the current market, you can see how long it took similar houses during the same time to sell.
Additionally, sometimes people will not lower the price of their home or stage it how the realtor recommends, so nothing can be done to help the house sell.
However, if there is a constant pattern of houses taking an extensive amount of time to sell, there is probably a reason for this. Perhaps your agent doesn’t advertise the home well, doesn’t answer or return phone calls, or doesn’t know the market well enough to help choose a good price for the home.
Another reason for checking their previous listings is to see if they are similar to yours. If you’re looking to buy or sell a piece of land in the country, but the agent only has experience buying and selling apartments in the city center, they might not be the right agent for you.
They communicate well
Does the agent you’re considering answer the phone (within reasonable hours) and return missed calls quickly? Do they always call you or send you an email when they say they’re going to? Are they on time for your showing appointments or meetings? If not, consider not hiring this agent.
If they aren’t communicating with you in the beginning when they are attempting to sell your house or help you find one to buy, they certainly won’t communicate better later.
For example, if an agent wants to list your house but doesn’t communicate well with you, it is almost a guarantee that they will not answer the phone or regularly return missed calls when future agents or potential home-buyers call them. This means that your only chance of selling your house is if the buyer’s agent is determined for his or her clients.
Of course, agents do not have to be on-call 24/7. They are human beings with personal lives as well. However, being an agent usually does mean taking calls on the weekends and after the typical 5 pm (or setting up an answering service if the agent wishes).
If an agent never answers their phone or returns phone calls, it is extremely frustrating both for you and the person on the other end of this process. It’s a simple fact that along with being a realtor comes regular communication. So, make sure you only choose an agent who takes this into consideration.
How to choose?
There are some incredible real estate agents who love helping you find a new home or sell your existing one. However, there are also agents who don’t do as much as they could for their clients.
Following this list will help you recognize if your potential agent will be the former or the later because everyone deserves someone who cares when going through such an expensive and emotional process.
Michele Karl is the Owner/Broker of Priority Real Estate. She can be reached at her email at [email protected] or give her a call at her office at 865-577-6600.