If you’re getting ready to buy a home, then you’re most likely looking for a real estate agent. Some people use sites like Redfin to look for homes themselves, but I prefer to use an agent who can guide me to the right home and help me work through all the fine points of the deal. Finding real estate agents is easy. This is how to find a good real estate agent.
Step 1: Find Real Estate Agents
I know, that doesn’t make a lot of sense, but the first step is just collecting lots of information about different agents. Here are four ways we’re looking for agents:
- Go to open houses and collect cards from agents you seem to connect with.
- Ask friends for referrals.
- Search online for agents who specialize in your prospective area.
- As you drive through your prospective neighborhood, write down the names and phone numbers on for sale signs.
- Look at online listings and note the agent representing them.
Step 2: Whittle Down Your List
Your next step is to whittle down your list. First, look at the agent’s website. How many listings do they have? How many years of real estate experience do they have? Do they indicate a specialty? How many recent sales do they list?
Exclusive buyer’s agents won’t have listings, but they should show the number of recently closed deals on their website.
Step 3: Interview Three Prospective Agents
You can interview more, but three seems like a reasonable number. Use this time to get a feel for the agent’s style and to see if you feel comfortable with him or her. You should ask at least these ten questions:
- Are you a full-time agent?
- How do you inform clients of new listings?
- How do you guide me to the right homes for me?
- What’s your typical commission?
- How often do you close a sale for less than list price?
- How do you handle offers?
- How many houses will I see before I buy a home?
- Do you have references?
- Do you have a list of recommended vendors?
- What else do I need to know?
Step 4: Call the References
Most agents won’t provide you with unhappy references (you wouldn’t do this with an employer, either.) Don’t expect to hear a list of complaints. Instead, ask the reference what it was like to work with the agent. How were concerns addressed? How quickly did he or she respond to phone calls or emails? Was he or she on-top of the offer and closing process?
Step 5: Choose Your Agent
Choose the agent who best suits your needs. The agent may request a contract, but it’s not required. If this is a sticking point for you, choose a different agent. Then sit down to discuss your needs in a home, potential neighborhoods, and price range.
Your real estate agent is both a partner and a guide in the home buying process. You should be comfortable with your agent, but you also want someone who is professional and experienced. A home is the most significant purchase you will ever make (unless you collect Picasso’s), so take your time finding the right person who will help you find the right home.