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How to choose a real estate agent

One of the most common mistakes homebuyers and sellers make is to go it alone. Real estate transactions are more complex than many people think, and a single mistake can cost you dearly – whether through lost opportunities, fines and penalties, or unsuccessful closings. You really don’t want to be without the help of a real estate professional.

But you don’t want to work with just anyone. More than just a financial transaction, a real estate transaction is also an emotional journey. You want to make that journey with a professional you can trust and feel comfortable with.

Here are some pointers to consider in choosing a real estate agent:

  • Work with someone who is knowledgeable in the area where you want to buy or sell.

The agent’s local knowledge will be helpful in many respects.

For example, if you’re buying a home, the agent can help you choose the neighborhood that best suits your needs and preferences, including proximity to schools and offices, amenities and attractions, and so on.

If you’re selling, the agent will be very familiar with such details as the pricing of homes in your neighborhood, highlighting your community’s strengths, and appealing to buyers who will love the area.

  • Look at an agent’s experience and achievements.

How long have they been in real estate and which areas have they served?

Achievements can be measured through past performances, including sales volume and number of closings. Peer-given and company awards as well as industry affiliations are also good indications of an agent’s reliability and trustworthiness.

This does not mean that you should not work with a newbie. A new agent may have a smaller client base, which could allow them to devote more time and attention to your needs. But make sure the agent has the right credentials and qualifications.

  • Consider the agent’s credentials.

They must have a state license and must be full-time real estate professionals.

It will also help if the agent is a Realtor, meaning one who belongs to the National Association of Realtors. NAR members abide by a very strict code of ethics, assuring clients of honest and transparent services.

Additionally, take into account the agent’s experience with the property you want to buy or sell. Some agents specialize in certain property types, such as luxury homes, fixer-uppers or investment properties. If your interests fall within a specific category, you can greatly benefit from a specialist’s in-depth knowledge in that category.

  • Check the agent’s current listings.

Just about everyone begins their real estate journey online. Review an agent’s online listings and consider their quality and effectiveness. Things to look into include:

    • The quality of the photos
    • The quality and completeness of the description
    • The sites where the listings are posted

Additionally, check the type of properties the agent is marketing and see if this matches what you want to sell or buy.

  • Check reviews and referrals.

It would be great if you can talk to former clients and get their feedback. But if this is not feasible, online reviews will help give you a good indication of the type and quality of service you can expect.

Getting referrals from people you know is also an excellent way of finding the right real estate agent.