Finding the perfect home may be easier with the help of an experienced and knowledgeable real estate agent by your side. However, a little due diligence is in order to make sure your agent is the right person to help you find the best possible home for your family’s needs.
After all, if you go with an agent who doesn’t know exactly what you want or who is more keen on closing the deal than making sure the house is the right one for you, it could cost you time, money, and happiness.
Here are seven important tips for picking the right real estate agent:
1. Find Out if They’re a Local
Real estate agents who live in or near your desired neighborhood may have a good pulse on the local market and more insider knowledge about the area. If the agent is new to the area or doesn’t specialize in the neighborhood you’re interested in, you may have better luck with someone more established in the locale.
2. Verify the Agent’s Credentials
Many real estate agents will list their certifications and achievements on their website. If you meet an agent in person or work with one who doesn’t have a website, you most likely want to ask about accreditations, certifications, and any other trainings the agent has completed. This might include the National Association of Realtors (NAR), Accredited Buyer’s Representative (ABR), and Certified Residential Specialist (CRS) designations.
3. Make Sure They Ask the Right Questions
A good real estate agent should take some time to get to know you, your life stage, your motivation for buying or moving, and your personal tastes. Their job is to find a home that meets as many of your needs as possible and suits your lifestyle. If they don’t ask questions about your priorities, must-haves, and goals, it may not be a good match.
4. Read Client Reviews and Testimonials
Successful real estate agents understand the power of positive word-of-mouth: it gives them invaluable credibility. Take your time to find online reviews, and don’t be afraid to ask for references if you only find a handful of them. Pay attention both to star ratings and what clients called out as the positives when working with the agent. Sites like Realtor.com, Trulia, and Zillow all post ratings and reviews from clients on the agent’s profile.
5. Verify if They Work Primarily with Buyers or Sellers
Real estate agents often fall in one of two categories: buyer’s agents or seller’s agents (also known as listing agents). This means an agent often works in the best interest of a seller to get a property off the market, or in the best interest of a buyer to find the buyer’s ideal home. Real estate agents who tend to work more on the listings side may not have enough experience working with buyers to get you through the home buying process easily.
6. Determine Whether the Agent Works Independently or with a Team
Many real estate agents work with a partner or a team, with whom they might share the deal-closing and administrative workload. Others may work independently, which means the whole process may take more time. If you’re in no rush to close and have time to shop around, working with an independent agent may work for you. If you need to move more quickly, you may fare better with a team that can speed you through the process.
7. Confirm Communication Styles
While many real estate agents are now fairly tech-savvy, some might prefer to communicate more over the phone or in-person with frequent meetings instead of by email or text. Make sure you’re comfortable with their preferred style of communication before you begin, because your agent will be contacting you frequently — potentially even at a moment’s notice. Set expectations up front so you can stay updated and get the timely information you need.
And, as you begin your home search, make sure you’re working with a mortgage lender you can trust. Contact Finance of America Mortgage today to get the loan process started.