If you’re in the market for a new home, or are thinking of putting your current home up for sale, a good real estate professional could make the whole process less of a headache than if you go it alone. Buyers and sellers may have different goals in mind, but spending some time to shop for the right agent will make the process go smoothly. Below are a few tips to keep in mind as you search.
Agents should have excellent negotiation skills - simply put, buyers want to look for an agent that will get them the best price for the type of home they want; sellers want someone who will get them the best deal for their home.
A good agent is knowledgeable of the area - if you’re looking for a home, it helps to find someone who can help you in the price range you’re interested in purchasing in. For example, an agent who is well-versed on low-income housing may not be the best fit if what you want is in the medium to high price range (and vice versa). A good agent, familiar with the market you’re searching in will be able to help you differentiate between good and bad options.
Word-of-mouth is a powerful tool - an excellent place to begin your search is within your own circle of friends, family and co-workers. There may be at least one among them living in the area where you’re buying or selling who can give some input as to their own experiences with agents. This is a great way to get unbiased reviews of local real estate agents. There are also several websites (AngiesList.com is a good one) where you can find honest reviews for real estate professionals from those who have recently used their services.
Talk to past recent client - once you have narrowed down your search, a good agent will be happy to refer you to their satisfied customers. Make a list of questions to ask them particular to your situation: if you’re the seller, speak with recent clients who have worked with that agent in that capacity. The same holds true for home buyers who may, for example, want to ask former clients what they actually ended up paying for their home, compared to what the original asking price was.
Shop around- you should never feel obligated too early on to pick the first agent you happen to speak with about buying or selling your home. Remember that this is a business relationship that needs to be built on trust. This is a major step you’re taking, and many real estate professionals recommend you meet with at least two or three agents before making a commitment.
Whatever side of the bargaining table you find yourself on, the most important thing buyers and sellers alike should do is to find an agent that you feel comfortable working with. Find someone who is not only knowledgeable about the area, but who will also be a strong advocate for you.