Selecting a Real Estate Agent

Purchasing a home, for most individuals, is the single biggest financial decision made in their life. Thus, it is clear that the selection of a real estate agent is a serious consideration that should not be taken lightly. But what factors should be considered in the selection of a real estate agent?

Reputation

Not all property agents are the same. Some real estate agents have a reputation for being difficult to work with. For example, agents who are pushy, argumentative, unprofessional, late for appointments, or missing deadlines can derail the buying process. A real estate agent must have a reputation for getting along well with all parties to a transaction, including buyers and sellers. An agent who takes a passionate advocacy approach like a lawyer for one party in a real estate transaction causes the other party to walk away from the deal. Communication and “people” skills are important, as well as diplomacy and tact if difficult situations should arise. And what is clear, honesty is the same.

Communication skills involve more than just communicating information – in fact, the ultimate test of effective communication skills is the ability to listen. An agent should listen to your needs, consider them, and then use that information to guide you to the perfect neighborhood and home for you.

Confirming a real estate agent’s reputation takes some detective work. It is wise to ask for references, on both sides of the transaction. Ask about problems that occurred during the process, and how they were handled. Talking to buyers and sellers about their experience dealing with a particular agency can provide insight into how you can expect your real estate experience to unfold.

Geographical Expertise

It is also important to make sure you are dealing with a real estate agent who is a “local specialist”. Many states technically allow licensed real estate agents to participate in real estate transactions anywhere in the state. However, local specialists will be familiar with local sales practices. For example, property transfer taxes vary by region, as does the party responsible for paying them. In some locations, there may be different customs duties for the distribution of city and county property transfer taxes. You want to make sure that you are dealing with an agent who is familiar with local customs to avoid paying unnecessary fees.

One idea is to investigate the neighborhood in which you are considering buying. If you see lots of yard signs for a particular agency in the neighborhood, it’s a good bet that the agent is a local specialist.

A local specialist will also be able to provide you with information on schools, recreation, churches and synagogues, shopping and entertainment options in the area.

How to Choose a Real Estate Agent

Word of mouth is usually the best and most reliable source of information about a particular real estate agent. This type of information is reliable because it has not been “rotated” by the agent and the source of the information has no particular motivation in one way or another, except to relate his experience.

Be sure to interview more than one agent. Before conducting an agent interview, make a list of the things that are important to you. These items might include proximity to a highway or commuter rail line, style of home, age of home, proximity to school, local tax rates, or any number of other items that may or may not be a “deal breaker” in your mind. In addition, you may be interested to find out if the real estate agent has support staff who will help with various aspects of the transaction. Also, making this priority list will help your agent find the perfect home for your family.

Ask the real estate agent you are considering for a referral to another real estate agent for an interview. An agent that is secure in its quality of service and reputation will not hesitate to provide you with the names of competing agents for you to consider. The agent who provided you with this information is most likely an agent who wants to do business with you.

Other factors to consider are whether real estate is an agent’s full-time career, the number of years of experience the real estate agent has, and any real estate designations the agent has.