People are dazzled by these great listing presentations and sign on with an agent, only to be left disappointed when they find out their agent doesn't actually have the Ace up his sleeve as promised. The right agent will help you buy your dream home or sell your own home quickly. The wrong agent can totally botch the transaction, leaving you with egg on your face and nowhere to call home. Despite the high stakes, many buyers and sellers give little thought to choosing an agent- and with a sea of agents to choose from, selecting the right real estate agent can be a challenging process.
We recommend you do your own research, we've compiled some links at the bottom of this article for where you should start. Along with that, there are some questions you should be asking during the interview process, before signing the dotted line.
Here's the list we've compiled-
How long have you been in the real estate business?
While experience is no guarantee of skill, real estate, like many other professions is mostly learned on the job. An agent that has been in the business for 5+ years will have seen a few different markets and economic changes, all experience you want when making the decision to buy or sell a home.
Are you a member of the National Association of Realtors?
Not every real estate agent is a Realtor®, who is a licensed real estate salesperson who belongs to the National Association of Realtors®, the largest trade group in the country. What difference does it make? Realtors are held to a higher ethical standard than licensed agents and must adhere to a Code of Ethics. By dealing with a Realtor, you don't have to worry about a shady agent.
Are you a member of MLS?
MLS is the Multiple Listing Service, which gives agents access to houses represented by all agencies- not just their own. For sellers, this means your home will be posted on the list as well, which means more exposure.
What showing service do you use?
Centralized Showing Service is a nationwide service that agents can use to schedule the showings for any listing. It's a terrific service; they are open 8AM to 8PM, 7 days a week. Agents can also log on and schedule showings online at any time. This service truly streamlines the showing process making it easier for your house to be seen. They also have an excellent system for requesting and sending out feedback from showings. We highly recommend working with an agent that uses Centralized Showing Service.
How familiar are you with our area?
Having an agent that knows the ins and outs of your area can make all the difference. An agent that specializes in a neighborhood may also be in touch with buyers looking for a home just like yours or sellers who haven't put their home on the market yet. Being familiar with an area also means knowing which locations are close to shopping, within the school you want to be and sometimes even knowing your future neighbors!
How many homes have you sold?
Along with knowing how long they've been in the business, knowing how many transactions they had over the previous years will be a great indicator of how much experience and how well they do their job. Keep in mind, at times these numbers will be affected by a slow market.
How will you represent us?
The answer you're looking for should start with the marketing and listing of your home or the methods in which they will present your offers to buy a property, cover the negotiations during the offer and inspection processes and whether or not they will be present at your closing. A good marketing campaign will effectively sell your house quicker for more money. An attractive offer to buy will put you ahead of competing offers. An excellent negotiator will ensure you get a fair deal during the inspection process. And an agent should always be present for closings, walking their client through the intimidating mountain of paperwork and catching any last minute changes or discrepancies.
What's your business style?
How will the agent communicate with you and how often? When selling a home, it's important to be in touch with your agent very regularly to keep up on any feedback coming in as well as offers. A buyer will set the tone for how often communication should occur with how aggressive they want to be in their search- do you want a weekly report of new homes on the market or do you want to know the instant something becomes available? Effective communication is key for any agent, and they should have several channels that they communicate to you through.
While this answer will probably be a compilation of the answers you've received from the above questions- it's important to flat out ask why you should choose them. You want an agent that is sure of his or herself and the services they provide. A clear, confident answer will tell you what you need to know about the agent.