How To Find A Real Estate Agent

Mar 21, 2022 | Mortgage Guides

Your Guide to Choosing the Perfect Real Estate Agent

Whether buying or selling a home, choosing the right real estate agent is one of the most important decisions you’ll have to make. If you are considering buying a new home, you will want an agent to represent you in the buying process.  If you are considering putting your home on the market for sale, you will want a seller’s agent to represent you in the sale of your home. But when there are 1.4 million real estate agents in the United States, how do you find the right one?

‍It can be tempting to hire the first realtor or real estate agent that comes your way or even ask friends and family for referrals. While this saves a lot of time and effort on your part, the easiest way isn’t always the best way. After all, the person you hire will be in charge of negotiating deals worth hundreds of thousands of dollars – wouldn’t you want the best possible fit?

‍Ready to find your agent but don’t know how? Fret not. This guide discusses some things buyers or sellers need to do before hiring an agent and tips on finding the right one.

Things To Do Before You Hire A Real Estate Agent

Buying or selling a home can be pretty daunting, but being prepared can help you shop around for real estate agents. This section describes all the things you’ll want to do before attending open houses to find an agent.‍

If You’re Selling

While a little easier in terms of pre-sale preparation, the selling process is difficult. Letting go of a generational home or a first house can be an emotional process, but sometimes a new place is just what you need.

‍Here are some of the things you’ll want to do before finding a seller’s agent for yourself:‍

  • Start finding a seller’s agent early: Living in a house for any time usually means some wear and tear. Because of this, you’ll need to involve a seller’s agent several months to a year before you want to sell. Doing this early can help you develop a repair-inclusive budget so you won’t lose any money in the sale.
  • Organize and clean the house: Whether buying or selling, a clean and organized home is essential. As a seller, you’ll want to start clearing old furniture you don’t plan to return to your new house. Some sellers hold garage sales to turn a small profit during the moving process.

If You’re Buying

Here’s the truth about home buying: it can be a long, expensive process. However, being adequately prepared makes things much easier in the long run. Here’s what you have to do before getting yourself a buyer’s agent:

  • Get pre-approved: Getting pre-approved for a mortgage saves you and your realtor time. Knowing your budget can rule out dozens of open houses that aren’t within your price range.
  • Familiarize yourself with mortgages: Good real estate agents want to get their clients the best deal when purchasing a new home. However, it can be tough when a buyer doesn’t understand how their mortgage will work.  Talk to your lender, who will help you understand the mortgage application and closing process. Buying a house isn’t just agreeing on a price and shelling out cash – you need to know all the costs. Your budget should include a down payment (roughly 20% of the total price), earnest money (which acts as a deposit) when you sign the purchase contract, and annual property tax or insurance costs.
  • Know what you want for your home: Before you go out and hire a realtor that suits you, it’s imperative that you have at least a rough idea of what you want from your home. Think of the area you’d like to live in alongside other factors like safety, distance to a school, and general neighborhood amenities.‍

Start Your Homebuying Journey Today with Wesley Mortgage

How To Find A Real Estate Agent: A Step-By-Step Guide

Real estate agents are abundant in the United States, but not all are right for you and your family. When trying to find the best real estate agent, you must evaluate your potential agents based on several criteria and ensure you know which questions to ask.

‍This section describes some of the main considerations when finding the right real estate agent.‍

Where can I find a list of real estate agents in my area?

There is no definitive answer to this question since there is no centralized database of all real estate agents in the United States. However, there are a few ways to find a list of agents in your area. One way is to contact your local real estate board or association. These organizations keep lists of all of the licensed agents in their area. You can usually find contact information for your local board or association online.‍

Find An Agent Through Local Resources

According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), most people hire a real estate agent when buying or selling a home. That’s because having an experienced agent, whether you are a buyer or a seller, can make the home-buying experience go smoothly.

‍Many buyers and sellers find their agents through referrals made by someone they know or through local referral programs. In fact, according to the National Association of Realtors, 43% of buyers found their real estate agent through a referral from a friend, family member, or acquaintance. For sellers, the most common way to find an agent was through a referral from a friend, family member, or acquaintance (30%), followed by an online search (24%). Some local referral programs even have online databases that can help you land the right agent without making too many trips out of your area.

‍But this isn’t the only way to look for someone to help you sell a house or buy a home. Another good way of finding a capable real estate agent is by attending open houses in the area you’d like to live in. This allows you to see your potential agents in action before making any commitments.

Evaluate Their Experience

Once you’ve found at least three capable real estate agents you’re interested in, you’ll need to set aside time to interview them. The interview process helps weed out agents who aren’t the right fit while also giving you a chance to get to know them and their real estate experience. After all, you don’t want an inexperienced real estate agent fumbling when they’re working on selling your home!

‍That said, asking the right questions when choosing an agent is essential. Specifically, you’ll need to know how many years of experience they have alongside certifications.‍

How Many Years Of Experience Do They Have?

While experience alone isn’t the only way of evaluating a real estate agent, it can clue you in on how smoothly your transaction will go. When vetting a buyer’s agent, you’ll want to ensure they have at least two years of work experience with the type of home you wish to buy.‍

However, hiring an agent when selling is a different story. In this case, you may want an experienced professional with a deep understanding of the housing market and over four years of full-time experience with the type of home you wish to sell.‍

What Are Their Certifications?

An experienced real estate agent may have quite a few qualifications. Here’s a list of the most common qualifications and what they mean when it comes to selling or buying a home:

  • CRS (Certified Residential Specialist): This certification is the highest credential awarded to residential sales agents, managers, and brokers. Any agent with this certificate is a top-performing real estate agent.
  • ABR (Accredited Buyer’s Representative): This certificate is for real estate buyer agents who focus on working directly with buyer clients at every stage of the home-buying process.
  • ASR (Accredited Seller Representative): This certification is the premier credential in seller representation and is awarded to real estate agents who meet specific educational and practical experience criteria.
  • SRES (Seniors Real Estate Specialist): This certification is for realtors who want to meet the special needs of maturing Americans when selling, buying, relocating, or refinancing residential or investment properties.
  • Real Estate Broker/Real Estate Agent/Realtor: A person representing sellers or buyers of real estate or real property.  A broker may work independently; an agent usually works under a licensed broker to represent clients.‍

Look For A Neighborhood Expert That Knows The Local Market

A real estate agent’s work experience is only one of the many factors that can determine how smooth your transaction will be. An equally important consideration is if your real estate agent is well-versed in the local market. An agent who understands local market prices in a city an hour over time may not be as helpful when working with you to find the best homes that meet your criteria.

‍This section lists the specific questions you must ask when interviewing a potential real estate agent.

Do They Sell Many Homes?

Whether you’re looking to buy or sell a home, it’s important to know how often your agent makes the sale. Seasoned agents usually have a tried-and-tested marketing plan to get you the best possible deals, no matter where you look. Working with a consummate professional also means they’re experienced negotiators and often know which homes are available before they’re even listed!

Are They Invested In The Local Community?

Any agent who has sold dozens of homes in a specific area has the expertise to help you, but it doesn’t hurt to hire someone passionate about the locale. Looking out for a top agent who cares can make a huge difference when trying to find the home of your dreams!

How’s Their Track Record?

When interviewing potential candidates, check your agent’s track record. Specifically, look to see if they work within a reasonable price range that matches an area’s general market value.

‍That means you may have to ask if they can make a sale close to the listed price and have the records to back their claims. On top of this, it’s best to find out how long your agent takes when finishing a transaction – especially if you want to sell your home quickly.

Find A Real Estate Agent With Good Customer Service

Customer service is one of the most important things when looking for an agent to help you buy or sell a home. Because the process can get very involved, you’ll want to find someone you trust and can depend on when navigating the housing market.

‍But how can you tell if your agent is the best fit? We recommend evaluating how they communicate and speaking with their former clients for feedback.‍

Communication Is Key

Like with any business transaction, communication can make or break a sale. After all, your agent’s responsiveness can be the difference between locking in the deal of a lifetime and missing out on dream homes. That’s why you need an easy-to-reach agent who is completely transparent with you regarding how your expectations will fare versus the housing market.

‍A good agent will let you know if you won’t be able to buy a three-bedroom house in a specific area within your budget, but they’ll also work to get you the best possible deals despite any financial limitations.

Speaking With Former Clients

Interviewing your potential agent can help you make the right decision, but sometimes you won’t get the full picture. We recommend asking your agent for a list of clients they’ve worked with before, hopefully recently. Doing this helps you get a more in-depth look at an agent’s specific strengths and weaknesses and helps you make an informed choice.‍

Keep Your Options Open

Sometimes, agreements between you and your agent don’t work out. Some agents may try to lock you into a confusing contract you can’t get out of or even charge you for expenses you didn’t initially agree on.

‍You’ll probably want to switch to another agent if that’s the case. But be warned, some agents may charge a termination fee to cover out-of-pocket marketing expenses or a cancellation fee if you’re unhappy with their services.‍

Either way, you don’t want to be left hanging without an agent after a professional disagreement. Always keep a shortlist of at least three agent alternatives – just in case.‍

How to Find a Real Estate Agent | Wesley Mortgage

5 Signs That You Found a Good Realtor

We’ve covered a lot of information in this article. However, the reality is that most buyers (85%) and sellers (77%) interviewed only one real estate agent before making their final decision. With that in mind, let’s review some of the critical questions you should ask your realtor:

  1. Your Agent Communicates With You Quickly and Candidly: When interviewing an agent, you should first ask for credentials, referrals, and basic information about how many homes they’ve sold in your area. If your agent responds quickly, clearly, and truthfully to these questions, that’s a good sign. While you don’t want to sacrifice quality for quantity, working with an agent with a constant pulse on your local neighborhood and a track record of recent sales in your market is critical. Selling your home will most likely be one of the most important things you do in your life, so make sure you and the agent work well together to meet your home selling objectives.
  1. Your Agent Is Aware of Your Needs and Your Schedule: An excellent real estate agent will keep you updated, which means communicating with you regularly. However, you may be unavailable to take phone calls during the day or prefer not to communicate via text. Look for an agent who will accommodate your preferred method of contact.
  1. Your Agent is Honest With You: Selling a house involves difficult decisions like pricing and potential renovations or repairs. That may necessitate the agent telling you things you don’t want to hear, but it’s ultimately for the best. Home sellers, for example, frequently have unrealistic expectations about the value of their home, either due to sentimental factors or because they are relying on the wrong indicators. It is critical that your real estate agent manages these expectations and is honest with you about a reasonable asking price. While you should be clear with your agent about your needs and expectations, they must ultimately be comfortable pushing back and having difficult conversations for your home sale to be as effective as possible.
  1. Your Agent Understands Financial Concerns: Mortgage issues can derail a potential sale. While real estate agents have a limited role in the mortgage process, they must be aware of lending guidelines. The best real estate agents understand that VA loans cannot be used on fixer-uppers and that conventional loans may be unavailable to those with poor credit. Being aware of these issues saves time and heartache (for both agents and clients).
  1. Your Agent is Flexible, Adapts, and Reacts: A real estate agent should be knowledgeable about the local market, buying and selling property, and the laws and regulations governing the real estate industry. As the marketplace changes and shifts over time (sometimes quickly), your realtor should be quick to react, communicate, and adapt to these shifts. If the realtor working with you is on top of the fast-paced real estate market, you’ve found a great realtor.

However, Only Hire Agents You Actually Like

So you’ve landed an agent with the expertise, excellent negotiation and communication skills, and the records to back them up – but you just don’t like them. Does that mean you should stick it out? Of course not.

‍You don’t have to be friends with your agent, but liking and trusting them ensures seamless and easy transactions. If your real estate agent has an abrasive personality or you don’t get along, you should consider offering those alternatives.

The Bottom Line

Let’s be real – finding the right real estate agent is a pretty involved process. It may feel a little overwhelming, from interviews to open houses to constant communication. On top of that, some deals fall through, and you may have to shell out more money than you originally intended.

‍However, working with financial professionals can make selling or buying a home much easier. Contact us at Wesley Mortgage to find out how we can help you find the best fit!

Start Your Homebuying Journey Today with Wesley Mortgage

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