Home Buying » Home Buying Guides » How To Find A Good Real Estate Agent
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How To Find A Good Real Estate Agent

Having a good real estate agent is crucial if you want to have smooth and problem-free real estate transactions. It can save you hours Googling for facts and answers to your inquiries. But how to research for a good real estate agent? What are the things we have to consider during the search? Here are the best tips:
Author: Jack Wickens
Jack Wickens

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Jack is a personal finance writer who has been writing for more than a decade. His passion for educating consumers and helping everyday families earn more and live better. He is most knowledgeable with years of experience covering topics such as savings, budgeting, and responsible credit use and always happy to share his expertise with readers.

Review & Fact Check: Baruch Mann (Silvermann)

Baruch Mann (Silvermann)

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Baruch Mann (Silvermann) is a financial expert and founder of The Smart Investor. Above all, he is passionate about teaching people how to manage their money and helping millions on their journey to a better financial future.
Author: Jack Wickens
Jack Wickens

Writer, Contributor

Experience

Jack is a personal finance writer who has been writing for more than a decade. His passion for educating consumers and helping everyday families earn more and live better. He is most knowledgeable with years of experience covering topics such as savings, budgeting, and responsible credit use and always happy to share his expertise with readers.

Review & Fact Check: Baruch Mann (Silvermann)

Baruch Mann (Silvermann)

Financial Expert, The Smart Investor CEO

Experience

Baruch Mann (Silvermann) is a financial expert and founder of The Smart Investor. Above all, he is passionate about teaching people how to manage their money and helping millions on their journey to a better financial future.

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Table Of Content

Having a good real estate agent is crucial if you want to have smooth and problem-free real estate transactions. This is true whether you’re a seasoned veteran or someone who is just making your first real estate deal.  The trick is how to find the right agent for you from more than 2 million licensed agents in the U.S. alone.

A good real estate agent would be essential whether you are buying a house or the one selling it.  Your agent will help walk you through all the steps and processes.  He will be able to answer a platoon of technical, tactical and financial questions that may arise in the course of the transaction.  Having a good agent will save you hours Googling for facts and answers to your inquiries.

The chart below by 2021 NAR Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends shows that 62% of new homeowners were satisfied by how the Real Estate Agents helped them understand the homeownership process. Also, 61% of the respondents felt the agents helped point out nuances of the prospecting homes while 15% found the agents helpful in narrowing their search scope.

Chart: Benefits Provided by Real Estate Agents in the U.S. 2020

How To Research For A Good Real Estate Agent?

A good real estate agent would have a clear understanding of the ins and outs of your area’s housing market.  Here is a compilation of the best areas to find someone who can help you in this particular field.

All realtors are licensed to do what other real estate agents and brokers can primarily do – to sell real estate.  However, not all real estate agents can call themselves realtors.  In fact, only realtors have the right to display the REALTORS® logo.

Realtors are members of the National Association of Realtors, which is the largest trade association in America with some 1.2 million members.  They have pledged to follow their Code of Ethics, a comprehensive list containing 17 articles and underlying standards of practice.  They establish levels of conduct that are higher than ordinary business practices or those laid down by law.  Today, less than half of licensed agents are realtors.

Ask Family Or Friends For Referrals

From NAR’s 2016 Profile of Homebuyers and Sellers Report, it says that 42% of buyers used an agent referred to them by relatives, friends and neighbors. Fifty two percent of first-time buyers specifically relied on referrals.

Most real estate agents rely on word-of-mouth advertising from satisfied customers who tell their friends and relatives.  You may ask the people around you if they have tried some agents and what their experiences were with them.  Successful agents are customer-oriented and make sure that their clients’ needs are satisfied before their own.

It would be great if you could find an agent who will go out of his/her way to serve your needs. This agent would probably be extremely popular among your contacts.

Search Online For Agent Listings

The Internet is teeming with websites that will refer agents to you but you should be careful.

Not all of them may be what you are looking for and there is no assurance of the quality of service.  The agents they will refer have probably spent money so that these websites will endorse them to the sites’ visitors.  It would serve you better if you just Google the top real estate agents in your area and visit their websites.

This way, you can personally look up the profiles of the individual agents near your area.  Experienced agents will declare it on their profiles but they are usually busier than other agents.  The newer ones will be less busy and will have more time for you. Pay attention to customer reviews if they are available at all.

According to a report by eBizMBA Inc, Zillow was the leading real estate website in the United States based on unique visitors at an average of 36 million every month. Trulia followed in the list, attracting 23 million users. Yahoo and Realtors took 3rd and 4th positions with 20 and 18 million visitors, respectively. You should note, though, the top 4-websites received over 18 million users every month, while the other 4 websites in the list received less than 6 million unique users.  Chart: Leading Obstacles to Homebuying For Gen Zers in the U.S. 2021

Use Print Advertising

Many real estate agents still run their own ads.

First, they do this to be able to sell real estate.  Secondly, they do this to promote the agents.  You may check out your local community newspaper for house ads in your desired neighborhood.  Then, you can look up the websites of the agents or companies who are advertising.  These agents could likely be the local specialists in the neighborhood.  Talk to them so you can get an idea of their experience and how they deal with customers.

How Much Does it Cost to Hire a Real Estate Agent?

Hiring a real estate agent, on average, will cost you a negotiable fee of about 6% of the value of a property. For example, if you want to buy or sell a building valued at $150,000, you are likely to pay 6% x $150,000, which is $9,000.

Typically, this fee is split equally between the buying and selling agents. In this example, therefore, each agent will potentially part with around $4,500.

Things To Consider When Choosing a Real Estate Agent

Before settling on a specific agent, take a closer look into the agreement to understand issues like agent commissions and the length of the contract. Fair commissions should be within a negotiable figure of not more than 6%, while the contract length should be within an acceptable range depending on the market.

1. Level Of Experience

How do you get an agent that somebody just referred to you? You can ask their previous clients about the pros and cons of working with them.  It is especially important for first-time homebuyers to find a really helpful real estate agent.  They need someone who will “show them the ropes” because the process can be complicated and overwhelming at times. A good agent should be thorough and meticulous.  Make sure you have someone with you with an eye for detail and can spot things not very obvious at first glance. For example, the bathroom might be nice but the ceiling has signs that the roof is leaking.  In other words, you have to find an agent who really wants you to find a good deal and not one who just wants to close one.  There may be some unscrupulous agents who might take advantage of your inexperience. Experience is key and it doesn’t just mean the length of years in the business. However, while it is a fact that experience doesn’t equate to success, there is some merit in it.  Real estate is a commission-based business and it would be next to impossible for an agent to survive for a long time giving bad service. An agent who has been through many situations will have developed some maturity in dealing with problems that may come up later.

2. Neighborhood/The Area

Knowing exactly in which neighborhood you want to live can help with your agent search and ultimately, during your house hunting. The more narrow your area of preference, the better odds you have in finding an agent with the best-fit experience. Observe the listing signs in your neighborhood, paying attention to when they came up and when they disappeared.  Not all agents will put up a ‘Sold’ sign so do not rely on it.  You might be better off getting an agent with a faster sales rate than one with the most ‘For sale’ sign.  Results work better than volumes if we were to consider your need at the moment. Also, you will normally find agents who work within your area and others who will travel across states to make a sale. It’s better to find someone in the middle, if you can.  The Internet provides agents with the ability to cover a broader territory but it doesn’t mean they have an intimate knowledge of the market of each location.  Conversely, a “neighborhood expert” may try to hard sell you into a house that does not fit your requirements. Find an agent who covers both in and around your primary area of interest.

3. Recommended Vendors List

Experienced agents usually have established trusted relationships with other industry professionals during the course of their dealings. Your agent would have multiple sources to recommend – lenders, title companies, contractors, inspectors, designers, etc.  You can just filter them out and determine the best one for your needs. The agent can only recommend and nothing more.  The Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act gives you the right to select whom you would like to work with at any phase of the deal.

4. Communication

After some time, you would have already observed how you and your agent communicate with each other. It is important to agree on your expectations for things such as:  how often you should be updated, what communication channels to use and who needs to know what.  You can require this from the agent because as a client, he/she should provide what would make you comfortable.

5. References

A good agent would be able to judge if he/she is meeting your needs but the best source would still be former clients. Keep in mind that agents won’t use past clients with not-so-good experiences as references.  So, take what their references say with a little bit of discernment.  A good technique is to ask focused on open-ended questions based on your priorities.

6. Up To Date Agent’s License

Before you formally hire your agent, there is one very important thing you must check:  your agent’s license. To verify if your agent has a current license, go to your state’s real estate department website and look up his/her name.  Aside from seeing if he/she has a valid license, you can also find out if the agent has faced disciplinary action.

7. Fees

Laws and regulations do not set brokerage fees – industry practice normally dictates them. The agent charges commission as his rate for handling the transactions. Ask your agent if there are other fees you have to pay.  Some agents ask for early cancellation fee, marketing fee, MLS fee and some other costs on top of the commission rate.

How to Choose a Real Estate Agent When Selling?

When selling your home, your ideal agent should have in-depth knowledge of the prevailing market conditions. For example, they should have prior knowledge of the buyers' demographic, how social amenities affect home prices, general economic conditions, etc. Therefore, you may also want to visit several house inspection openings to see how your potential agents deal with the buyers on site. Another thing to consider is the past performance of the agent when selling homes similar to yours. The results must be satisfying. Furthermore, you may want to evaluate whether you feel comfortable working with the agent.

What Should You Expect When Working With A Real Estate Agent?

In 2020, 51% of new home buyers said they would accept help from real estate agents in finding the right home to purchase, according to a report by the National Association of Realtors. 13% of those who participated in the survey said they wanted the real estate agents to help them negotiate the terms of the sale. However, only 1% of the respondents expressed interest in receiving training about the neighborhood of the prospecting house.    

Chart: Expectations of House Buyers From Real Estate Agents in the U.S. 2020

Once an agent lists your home, he or she will immediately begin to market your home to prospective buyers.  An agent may use various marketing tools but many experienced ones will know what will be most appropriate for your property.  Your agent will keep you updated about the entire process as well as in all expressions of interest he/she receives.

1. Communication

Be sure to specify the communication channel you prefer.  Some clients are okay with email updates while others would want personal phone calls or face-to-face meetings.  Whatever is your choice, it is best to inform your agent so that everyone is working with a clear definition of expectations. The same guideline is applicable to buyers.  Since buyers require agents to show them as many properties as possible and receive updates and feedback, communication is essential.  If text messages work for you, just tell your agent.  Not all forms of communication are acceptable to all people so specify to your agent what you prefer.

2. Professionalism

Every customer appreciates professionalism.  If you require your real estate agent to be always on time for your appointments, so should you.  It is always good to conduct business such as real estate buying and selling in a professional manner even if you are the client. Remember, the real estate agent is on your side whether you are buying or selling. Once you have signed up with an agent, he/she becomes your official representative.  He/she is your face, your voice, your image and the defender of your interest in the complicated layers involved in the home buying or selling process.

Finding a Real Estate Agent: Tips For Buyers

When looking for a real estate agent to help you buy a home, you must first determine how much loan you qualify for. Once you have the budget, ask for referrals of real estate agents from your friends, co-worker, relatives, etc. If you can’t find your ideal real estate agent among the referrals, you may opt to find a suitable match on your own. Remember to do detailed research on each potential candidate before settling for the best 3-who you will interview.
  • Agent must offer adequate support – Your ideal agent must be willing to sit with you patiently reviewing a variety of homes within your budget in the market and at your own pace. They should also arrange for property visits, if not answer all your questions diligently. Besides, they must be available on demand.
  • Find a trustworthy agent – The agent should pay attention to your communications, respond to your questions, and demonstrate how to meet your expectations. Their history must spell out credibility.
  • The referrals should be verifiable and adequate – The ideal real estate agent must have referrals that are verifiable from local people. Also, the community leadership and surrounding community can vouch for them without hesitance.
  • Communication must be clear – The agent must be able to cultivate a strong rapport with you through their communications. They should not pressure you to make decisions, and they must demonstrate that they understand your needs.

Finding a Real Estate Agent: Tips For Sellers

When you're looking to sale your home, you still need more or less the same skills as buyer require, but the focus should be a bit different:
  • The Agent Must Demonstrate Professionalism – You must look for high standards when dealing with an agent who will manage a big transaction on your behalf. First, you may want to evaluate how they handle you and their communication during your first meeting. Their website should also spell out professionalism.
  • Look for a Proactive Agent – Here, you want an agent who stands high despite the competitiveness of the real estate market. The case studies they will provide to you should prove they can handle edge cases before happening. They must also have all the deliverables like necessary paperwork upfront.
  • Experienced, Yet Relatable Agent – Though you may be looking for an agent who has the market knowledge and years of experience in the field, they must satisfy your expectations, too.
  • Reputation in the community – An agent who can win the hearts of the local community has a high chance of delivering to your expectations.

FAQs

When looking for a trustable realtor, start by getting referrals from people you trust, your co-workers, family, friends, or even previous agent you might have worked with. Also, consider looking for the realtors with the most listings.

A relocation specialist can also become handy in the process. Besides, community leadership can be helpful due to the familiarity with the locality. Once you settle on the best agent, ensure they have an up-to-date license, and there are no disciplinary cases against them. 

When you want to find a real estate agent specializing in renting, you may want to start from people you know and trust for referrals. However, if this is not an option, you may want to check the online listing of agents specific to your locality.

If your community has a local newspaper, this will be a perfect alternative. One tip, though, stay away from listings done by either an individual landlord or a property manager. Before settling on an agent, you may want to evaluate each one carefully, from licensing, fees, and the contract terms

When evaluating a real estate agent, you should look for an agent with an extensive understanding of the market. They should understand the buyers, what drives the prices, the regulations, etc. 

The agent must demonstrate a great deal of honesty in their operations to even trust them with the business you will be offering. 

The agent must also demonstrate exemplary performance in handling buying or selling of homes similar to yours. The experience here will be the difference between getting a crappy deal or a satisfactory one. 

Another significant factor is that their fees must be reasonable. An average of 6% or below is acceptable.

You should also consider the agreement terms. That means evaluating fees, the length of the contract, legal matters, and other things that will make your work effortless. 

Before hiring a real estate agent, you must first understand how you feel about them. Whether you trust them or not. Or perhaps, whether they are a good fit for you or not. 

You also must know if the agent has the best interest of you. That is, whether they are rushing you into the transaction or they are taking their time to support you in finding the best deal

The agent must have enough experience to handle the type of transaction you are delegating to them. It is imperative the agent shares with you the number of transactions they have done within the past year. 

In addition, check if they are licensed and are familiar with the locality of your interest.

How much real estate agents charge varies across the different cities. Some agents do not charge you any fee because the landlord pays the real estate agent expenses.

However, there are areas such as Washington DC where the charges can be as high as 25% to 50% of a single month's rent. Generally, you should expect lower fees in small towns and hefty fees in big cities like Los Angeles and New York.

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