Helpful Tips About How to Choose a Real Estate Agent

If you think buying or selling a home is a simple matter of cruising open houses or posting a “for sale” sign on the front lawn, consider the following: Do you have access to every home for sale in the neighborhoods you’re interested in? Do you have the time, energy and resources to research the housing market? Can you market a property effectively? Can you read real estate contracts and, if selling a home, do you understand your legal obligations toward buyers?

Fact of the matter is, buying and selling real estate can be complicated, not to mention the biggest financial decision most people ever make. With so much at stake, working with a professional real estate agent can help locate the right property at the right price, or negotiate the best deal possible on your home sweet home.

But how does one choose a real estate agent? Here are a few helpful hints:

  • Interview candidates from different agencies. Look into their qualifications. How many years have they been on the job and how competent are they? Have there been any complaints filed with the State Board of Realtors? Finally, how compatible are you? There’s no underestimating the importance of personality when choosing a real estate agent.
  • Do they know the neighborhood? Is the agent familiar with the housing market in the areas you’re looking to buy or sell? Agents with a history of transactions in neighborhoods that interest you will know what’s available and in what price range. If you’re listing your property, a good agent will know the market well enough to set an optimum asking price attractive to both seller and buyer.
  • Keep in mind when choosing a real estate agent that he or she has access to a powerful tool — the Multiple Listing Service (M.L.S.) that inventories all available properties by region. A skilled agent can use the M.L.S., plus their own experience, to locate homes in neighborhoods matching your property wish list — such as a quality school system, convenient shopping or close highway access.
  • What level of customer care will you receive? A real estate agent is your business partner in a huge financial undertaking, so you’ll want to choose a real estate agent that is always ready, willing and available. Be sure that communication stays open and phone calls are returned. Some agents employ assistants to handle much of their legwork. If this is the case, be certain your agent is the one present and accounted for when it comes time to check the contracts and close the transaction.
  • Know what you’re signing. Take the time to read through all of the fine print if asked to sign a working contract with an agent.