Choosing the REALTOR® for You
Choosing a real estate agent is a process that can often be avoided by family and friend’s trusted recommendations from previous experience. However, not every agent your friends use will fit your needs best and it is important to keep your options open when undergoing this monumental life experience.
Before deciding where to begin, it’s crucial to understand the differentiation between professionals in the industry. There are several components that should be acknowledged and learned prior to confiding in someone to assist you in buying or selling a home.
What’s the difference between a real estate agent & REALTOR®?
There are two classifications that are notable when searching for an agent. Professionals in this field can hold different titles based on their association and expertise of the housing market.
A real estate agent is a professional who has taken the necessary steps to become licensed in their state. After receiving their license they become affiliated with a brokerage of their choice. The brokerage has a direct influence on the agent just as the agent’s reputation in the industry is a direct reflection of the brokerage’s values. A real estate agent can have a specialty within the field that allows them to market themself to a specific client. There are sellers agents and buyers agents who specialize in those specific areas of the industry, but there are also dual agents who will represent clients as both a buyer and seller agent.
The term REALTOR® is trademarked by the National Association of REALTOR®s (NAR). This affiliation to the industry's trade organization gives a real estate agent more credibility due to the code of ethics each member abides. By breaking a guideline within the NAR code of ethics, the agent compromises their affiliation to this organized group. The standard these professionals are held ensures they remain ethical in the buying and selling of homes on behalf of their clients. REALTOR®s are provided access to the tools and resources of the NAR which they otherwise would not be provided.
Choosing an agent
Step 1: Research
Most people who haven’t already been given a referral agent are thinking, where do I even begin? The answer is simple: You search until you find an agent who you are enthusiastic about contacting for further information.
By doing the right research and organizing your thoughts, you will give yourself a leg up in finding the right fit for your specific needs. It may be difficult to sift through the information found online, but the Internet provides a wealth of information about real estate agents that will become helpful in your search. Here are the items to look for when surfing the web for real estate agents in your area:
Looking at the brokerage who oversees the work of an agent can tell a lot about who the agent is both personally and professionally. All brokerages have built a reputation for themselves that they take very seriously when recruiting agents. Their agents are the face of their brand and ultimately the drivers of the brokerage’s success. Some clients may look for a local family-owned company who thrives off of referrals while others needs may be better suited with a bigger, well-known brokerage.
Once you’ve added potential agents to your list, take a peek of their current listings. Listings can give clients a sense of the home size and price ranges an agent typically sells. While prices and sizes of homes range, this will give you a better sense of who you may contact in the next phase of the search.
Experience is a broad term that has different meanings to every client. Along with current listings, some clients may note the number of completed transactions as equally important. While numbers aren’t the end all be all in this situation, you do want to make sure your agent knows what they are doing when handling your home finances. Disclaimer: Agents who are new to the business may not have the same track record as a 20 year real estate veteran, but their knowledge of the area and the market can be just as notable.
Testimonials are the ultimate tell all. Listening to what an agent’s previous clients had to say about their experience working with this person will often give you a better feel of the agents shining qualities within the business. Along with testimonials, online reviews are a true form of how clients felt about their agent. Reviews are often less controlled and they can shed negative or positive light on the agents strengths and weaknesses. Our brokerage uses Survey Monkey to receive feedback from clients.
Research will provide you with the credentials you need to begin the contacting phase of the process.
Step 2: Contact
The next step in choosing the right real estate agent or REALTOR® for you is contacting multiple agents who might fit the mold. Do not limit yourself to one agent after the research process. Not all agents have a strong presence online and while this may come as a shock to clients, agents can conduct a lot of business off of referrals through past clients. Begin calling the narrowed down list remaining from the researching process.
One huge tip in this stage of the process is monitoring the responsiveness of agents. Be sure to leave a message for those who don’t answer right away and take notice to the professionals who don’t give you a call back. A lack of communication is a stressful situation to be in when searching for homes in today’s market.
Be prepared with questions for each REALTOR® that are tailored to their experience. Here are basic questions you should ask your future real estate agent:
Good questions to ask a REALTOR®:
How long have you been selling? In this area?
What type of communication do you prefer?
What questions do you have for me? (this reveals their priorities)
What price range do you typically work within?
Look to see if this price matches with the research you have already conducted on their current listings.
Do you have a list of vendors?
How do you establish trust between yourself and your clients?
What other major commitments do you have beyond this career?
Step 3: Choose
The hardest part of the entire process should be choosing which REALTOR® you will pursue.. but only if you asked all the right questions. At this point in the process you should reevaluate your options and ask yourself all the tough questions. These questions include the agent’s knowledge of the area, if their expertise directly relates to your needs and the faults of each agent that could weigh on the process.
If all else fails beyond these suggestions, reach out to all friends and family who have recently sold or bought a home. Getting a referral is the best compliment an agent can receive and chances are they will focus a lot of their energy on their loyal client base!