Putting Your Home in Good Hands: How to Find the Top Real Estate Agent
Are you looking to hire a real estate agent, but aren’t sure who to choose? Check out this guide to learn how to find the top real estate agent.
There are roughly 2 million real estate agents in the United States. With so many agents available, the hard part isn’t finding a real estate agent, it’s finding the right agent. And if you want to get top dollar from selling your home, the right agent really matters.
There are so many online advertisements, yard posters, and magazine spreads — how can you find the top real estate agent? You don’t want just anyone; you want the best. And believe it or not, there are a few tricks to separate the wheat from the chaff.
Want to get the most out of your home? This guide will give you the knowledge you need to find and vet the best listing agent around.
1. What is a Real Estate Agent?
When it comes to real estate agents, most people know the basics. Real estate agents work for either homebuyers or home sellers. It’s their job to guide their clients through the home buying process, whether through contracts or property listings.
You probably knew that already. But as you search for the best real estate agent, you’ll likely see many other titles: broker, realtor, and more. Do you know the difference between these types of agents?
A real estate agent, sometimes called a licensed real estate associate, is anyone who holds a real estate license. A realtor is a real estate agent with a National Association of Realtors membership. Realtors must follow the association’s ethical guidelines or else lose their membership.
Although it depends on the state, brokers are typically real estate agents with more experience and education. When they meet the state’s broker guidelines, they’ll receive their broker license. The top real estate agents are often brokers.
Since you’re looking to sell your home, you should choose a real estate agent that specializes in home sales. They might advertise themselves as a listing agent since they list the home.
2. When Do I Need a Real Estate Agent?
Some people choose to sell their own homes. Although you’ll save on commission fees, you might lose money due to your inexperience. For example, do you know anything about real estate contracts or qualifying buyers?
Odds are, you don’t. That’s where a real estate agent can come in. This article by Effective Agents compares the pros and cons of selling your own home or using a real estate agent.
If you plan on selling your home, a real estate agent should be your first contact. They’ll help you determine which home improvement projects can help you get the most for your home. Plus, you’ll give your real estate agent more time to prepare for the sale.
3. Where Do I Look for a Real Estate Agent?
“Where are the best realtors near me?” you ask. You’ll find them by tapping your network. Friends, family, and neighbors will be happy to inform you of good (or bad) experiences with their real estate agents.
In general, you should prioritize people who most recently worked with their agent. Since the world of real estate can change at a moment’s notice, it helps to have an agent working in the current housing market.
If your network doesn’t have recent experience with a real estate agent, or you just plain don’t trust them, that’s okay. Take your search online.
Many of the best real estate agents work for some of the top real estate companies. By choosing a company with great reviews, you’ll limit your search to their collection of agents. From here, you’ll be able to interview them until you find one who suits your fancy.
4. What Are the Qualities of a Good Real Estate Agent?
While most agents are professional and knowledgeable, that doesn’t mean they are all right for you. Narrow down your list of agents by seeing if they have the right stuff.
You want a real estate agent with experience in your neighborhood. Since homes can cost tens of thousands more just across the street, it helps to have an agent who understands the area. They’ll know what sets your home apart, or what you might need to include to land the right buyer at the right price.
Your agent should be responsive. When you need to ask a question, you shouldn’t be left waiting until the next day.
In addition to real estate knowledge and communication skills, you should be able to trust your agent. Some real estate agents, especially those who are part-time, are just looking for a quick commission. Although this is more common for buyer’s agents, it’s still something you should be wary of.
5. What Should I Ask a Real Estate Agent?
It’s standard practice to interview a potential real estate agent before you hire them. Some of these vetting questions are quite basic.
For example, you should ask them how long they’ve been in the business, how many homes they’ve sold, and where. This is your opportunity to see if they have any experience in your neighborhood. Be sure to ask them the last time they sold a home, so you know they’ve been active in the current market.
It’s also a good rule of thumb to know how many clients they have at any one time. Too many clients? You might not get the care and attention you need.
Too few and that might mean they aren’t the most capable realtor around.
Your Real Estate Agent Matters
Unless you have a real estate license yourself, you should rely on a good real estate agent. Doing it yourself could lead to trouble selling the home, a lower sale value, or an awful contract.
And a bad real estate agent might not have your best interests at heart or the knowledge they need to sell your home for the best price.
It’s time to start your search with friends, family, and neighbors. Once you get a few names, look for a well-reviewed brokerage to help limit your search further. From there, you’re only a short interview away from finding the right real estate agent for you.
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