How to Find a Real Estate Agent: Where to Look and What to Ask
Before putting your home on the market or embarking on the purchase of a new home, you should identify real estate agents in your community who can assist with the sale. More than 2 million people nationwide are licensed to sell real estate, and their job is to be experts on the properties in their communities. They track real estate trends and are in the business of helping others buy and sell homes. If you’re in the market for a new home, it’s wise to know how to find a real estate agent.
Whether you are a first time home seller or someone looking to buy their first home, there are several ways to find a local real estate agent.
- Use realtor.com’s find a real estate agent tool to locate individuals who are active in your community.
- Get recommendations from friends and family members who have bought or sold their properties recently.
- Look for real estate agent signs in your community.
- Attend open houses and see if you connect with a real estate agent.
- Call your neighborhood real estate brokerages.
Ask your real estate agent these important questions
Buyers and sellers have different needs, and certain real estate agents may specialize in selling rather than buying, and vice versa. Whatever your preference, there are some questions you’ll want to ask your real estate agent before they start helping you find a home.
1. What services do you offer?
2. What type of representation do you provide?
There are various forms of representation in different states. Some brokers represent buyers, some represent sellers, some act as neutral parties to facilitate transactions, and in some cases, different salespeople from one firm may represent different parties in a transaction.
3. What experience do you have in my immediate area?
4. How long are homes in this neighborhood typically on the market?
Please note that because all homes are unique, some homes will sell faster than others. Several factors can affect how long a home stays on the market, including listing price, interest rate changes and local economic trends.
5. How would you price my home?
Ask about recent home sales and comparable properties currently on the market. If you talk to several Realtors and their price estimates differ, that’s fine, but be sure to ask how their price opinions were determined and why they think your home will sell for a specific value. Also ask for a written Comparative Market Analysis (CMA).
6. How will you market my home?
At the listing presentation, the agent will provide a detailed summary of how they market the home, what their past marketing strategies have been, and what marketing efforts might work for your home.
7. What is your fee?
Brokerage fees are determined in the marketplace and are not set by law or regulation. The commission is the rate at which the broker processes your transaction. Ask if you are required to pay any other fees such as early cancellation fees, marketing fees, MLS fees or any other fees not included in the commission rate.
8. What disclosures should you (the consumer) receive?
State regulations require brokers to provide extensive agency disclosures, usually at the first sit-down meeting with the owner or buyer.
What to expect when working with a real estate agent
Once your home is listed with a Realtor, they will immediately begin marketing your home according to the practices that best suit your community. The Realtor will keep you informed during the marketing process and will notify you when they receive a letter of intent.
Be sure to indicate your preferred method of communication. Some clients prefer email or text messages, while others just want to be called or meet in person. Whatever your preference, it’s best to list these expectations up front so everyone can work with a clear goal in mind.
This is also true for buyers. Because buyers are constantly meeting with their agents, viewing properties and giving feedback on the properties they have seen, communication is important. If you prefer to communicate via text message, let your agent know. All forms of communication are not for everyone. Make sure your agent communicates with you in a way that you find acceptable.
Every client should expect professionalism. This means that the real estate agent always expects you to be on time, and you should expect the same from your real estate agent.
Remember, the real estate agent is your advocate in the transaction, whether you are buying or selling. Once you have contracted with an agent to represent you, he or she is your face, your voice, and your advocate for all participants in the multi-layered process of buying or selling a home.