While it may seem a little overwhelming to find a realtor, there are proven ways to track down a top pro. Just follow these key tips and you’ll not only find a good realtor—you’ll find a great one.
How to find a realtor
Get referrals. Ask friends, families, neighbors and coworkers who they recomend. The best agents have excellent customer-satisfaction track records.
Visit open houses. This can be very helpful if you’re selling a home. You’ll see realtors in action, and get a firsthand look at how they’re doing. Are there good brochures about the home, displayed invitingly? Is the realtor doing a good job of showing people around the home? Does the realtor really, really seem to care? If you find a good one, consider using him or her to sell your home.
Ask for a realtor’s resume. It can be very revealing. Note, while agents with years of experience under their belts may appeal, newer agents may have more time to spend on you, so don’t discount them.
Ask about a realtor’s sales experience, too. If you’re selling a home, ask how many homes she sold last year. Also ask how many days it took her to sell a home, on average—and how that compared to the overall market. And ask how close to the initial asking price of homes sold the final sale prices were (a good indication of how adept a realtor is at pricing and marketing).
Request referrals. Ask for names and numbers of three recent clients, call, and then inquire about their experiences, whether they would work with the realtor again, and why.
Know the marketing strategy. If you’re a buyer, ask the realtor how she will search for a potential home, how many she will likely show you before you buy one, how she handles multiple offers and whether she presents the offer herself (the ideal). If you’re a seller, ask the realtor how exactly she plans to market her home, whether she does direct mail campaigns, how she plans to advertise, whether you can see a sample flyer, and how she markets online. It might be helpful for her to take you through exactly how she sold her last home.
Make sure the realtor is accessible. Ask how often he will keep you updated on what’s happening with your home. While there is no right answer, the way a realtor responds can help you see if this matches with your temperament. You should also ask what kind of support his brokerage office gives him—having resources such as secretaries and assistance with tech stuff can better enable an agent to sell your home.
Inquire about rates. Don’t ask if the fee is negotiable, as most are. Real estate agents charge anywhere from 1 to 4 percent when they represent a seller or buyer. A listing agent may charge 3.5 percent for herself and another 3.5 percent for the buyer’s agent, for a total of 7 percent.
Know the deal on guarantees. If you sign a listing or buying agreement with an agent and you turn out not to be satisfied, can you cancel the agreement? What is the company’s policy? Has anyone ever cancelled an agreement with her before and if so, what happened?
Ask a revealing question. Try, “What are three things that separate you from the competition?” or “What haven’t I asked you that I need to know?”