When buying or selling a house, you’ll likely reach out to a professional REALTOR®. But how do you choose the right one? You’ll potentially be working together for several months, so the selection process needs to be a balance of credentials and chemistry.
HOW DO YOU CHOOSE?
When you begin the search, you’ll quickly notice a few different titles: REALTOR® or real estate agent. While people often use these terms interchangeably, they are quite different.
A real estate agent is anyone who has earned a license to sell property, which typically entails taking a minimum number of classes and passing a state exam. However, a REALTOR® is an agent or broker who is a member of the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) and adheres to the organization’s strict code of ethics, which is an important distinction for many buyers and sellers.
Ask for Referrals
Start your search by asking friends, family, and neighbors for referrals. Word-of-mouth recommendations are often the best and most reliable way to find a trusted REALTOR®. But, keep in mind that even if a friend had a good experience, it doesn’t necessarily mean their REALTOR® will be a good fit for your needs.
Once you have a few names, use the internet to your advantage and do some research. Visit the REALTORS®’ websites and social media pages and check out their reviews.
Ask the Right Questions
During your initial face-to-face meetings or phone calls, arm yourself with questions that will really help gauge if the person is a good fit for you.
Ask potential candidates how long they’ve been in the real estate industry. Ask about their commitment to the craft, are they involved in their associations and brokerages? Is real estate a hobby for them or is it their career? If they’re a newer agent, are they being guided or mentored? If they’re a seasoned professional, are they still fully invested, or will you get lost in the shuffle?
A lot of failed REALTOR®/client relationships come down to one thing…communication.
A professional agent should be accessible and clearly communicate with you on a regular basis. As the client, set expectations up front for how you want to communicate. Remember, the REALTOR® needs to communicate with you, but to ensure a successful relationship, you also need to communicate your needs and expectations to them. It is also a good idea to establish expectations for type of communication.
According to the National Association of REALTORS®, 2/3 of first-time buyers contacted only one agent before moving forward,
but many experts suggest interviewing at least three REALTORS® before deciding.
Talk About Schedules
The market has been extremely fast-paced and we’re about to enter the busy Spring season. Warmer weather will soon be upon us and that means vacations and weekend getaways. So, in addition to establishing communication expectations, it’s important to talk about scheduling. Find out what their schedule is like, and if they have vacations planned. Will they be accommodating to your schedule?
Go with Your Gut
Just as important as the knowledge and experience an agent brings is their ability to guide you smoothly through the process. Above all, go with an agent you trust and will feel comfortable with if the road to closing gets a little bumpy.
It’s just like dating — sometimes it just comes down to chemistry. If everything checks out, but you just don’t vibe with that person, don’t go with them. There are plenty of other real estate agents out there that will be happy to help you that might be a better personality fit.
Carefully Review the Contract
Your contract should spell out all of the terms to which you’ve already agreed, including the real estate commission. The commission rate is negotiable, however, half will go to your own real estate agent and half going to the buyer’s agent.
Another factor to look at: The length of the contract itself. Look for a contract limited to six months or less. In a competitive seller’s market, it can take less than 30 days to sell a home
Select the REALTOR® you feel most comfortable with.
To give real service, you must add something that cannot be bought or measured with money, and that is sincerity and integrity.
It’s not only about credentials and awards. You never want to be sold by your REALTOR®. You want a genuine connection and you need to feel confident they will handle your transaction with integrity and look out for your best interests.