18 Tips for Choosing a Good Real Estate Agent

Buying or selling a home can be a major event in anyone's life. For many people, it can be a stressful and nerve racking experience. At Holmes Property Firm, we help homeowners that have distressed properties and save them from the anguish of selling a home. 

There are a number of people that have homes that are in excellent condition. In cases like this, those home owners are better off putting their homes on the market. This is where a real estate agent comes in. A good real estate agent can help guide you through the home buying or selling process. They can ease a lot of your frustrations and help you get the value that you are looking for when you are buying or selling a home. 

Unfortunately, not everyone that calls themselves a real estate agent is a good one. It takes more than nice clothes and a warm smile to buy and sell homes. Here are some tips that will help you find the right agent for you. 

1. Talk to multiple agents
Real estate agents come in all types. Even if you definitely know that you want to work with a family member or a friend, it is always good to get multiple perspectives regarding your situation. Take some time, because you want to make sure that you select someone that is both knowledgeable and trustworthy. 

2. What is the agent's fee
The typical commission for the sale of a home is 6%, and that is split between the buying agent and the selling agent. That means that if your home sells for $200,000, you will have to pay about $12,000 to the agents involved. You can and should attempt to negotiate a lower rate. 

3. Ask to speak with the agent's previous clients
Get agents to provide you with a list of properties that they have sold within the last year and the contact information for the clients that they have served. Try to get the agent to provide you with properties that are somewhat similar to yours. 

Ask the sellers what their overall experience was like with the agent in question. Find out how long their homes were on the market.

4.Look for licensing
You definitely want to work with a licensed real estate agent. This is a big decision and you want someone that has received the proper education and training. If you are buying a home in Pennsylvania, make sure that you select an agent that is licensed with the Pennsylvania Real Estate Commission.  

5. Check for credentials
Having an agent that acquired some additional training can be a huge bonus. Here are some credentials that you can look for:

SRES (Seniors Real Estate Specialist): Completed training aimed at helping buyers and sellers in the 50-plus age range.

CRS (Certified Residential Specialist): Completed additional training in handling residential real estate.

ABR (Accredited Buyer's Representative): Completed additional education in representing buyers in transactions.

6. Use Associations
There are realtor associations all over the country. They provide education and resources to real estate agents that are members. If you live in Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Association of Realtors is a good resource to use to find a realtor.

7. Awards are good
Many people love to align themselves with a winner and real estate is no different. State and national associations honor real estate agents with awards every year. This is significant because these awards are often given by the real estate agent's peers. It is a strong statement when an agent has the respect of his/her peers. 

8. Ask how much your home will sell for
In a perfect world, you'll interview at least 3 agents and all three agents will tell you that they can sell your home for a similar price. Unfortunately, this isn't always the case. It is likely that one agent will overprice your home in an effort to earn your business. Homes that are overpriced can be a big turn off to potential buyers. 

9. Ask about how the agent will market your home
There are a number of methods that an agent can use to market your home. Beware of the agent that just mentions one or two channels. A good agent should be able to speak to multiple methods in which they can reach out to buyers. 

10. Look at current listings online
You don't want to make your agent the only authority regarding how much your home could sell for. It is helpful to take matters into your own hands. Use sites like Zillow, Realtor.com, and Trulia, to search for nearby homes in your area. Find homes that similar to yours in type and size. These results will give you a good idea regarding how much you should list your home for.

11. Ask the agent how many clients they are currently working with
Having an active agent that is working with other clients is a good thing. However, you don't want an agent that has too many clients. You want a real estate agent that will be able to give you the time and attention that you deserve. An agent that is currently selling about 6-15 homes is perfectly acceptable. Any more than that and it may be difficult for the agent to give you personal service.

12. Is the agent part-time or full-time?
The housing market is constantly changing. You want to choose an agent that is constantly keeping track of the market. Having an agent that can show your home as soon as it hits the market is a huge advantage. If you are a buyer, it helps to have an agent that can show you properties as soon as possible. 

13. How long as the agent been in business?
We all have to start somewhere, but you should do your best to find a seasoned real estate agent. You don't want an agent that will be learning as they go while working with you. Your main goal is to buy a home or get your home sold. Let new agents learn the ropes on someone else's time. 

14. How has the agent's business changed in the last five years?
A good agent will be able to tell you how their industry has changed over the last 5 years. They should be able to talk about changes in client tastes. He/she should also be able to speak to how websites, smart phones, and social media have changed their business. 

15. Ask what they expect from you
The agent will need your cooperation in order to succeed. He/she may need you to move things around the home, paint, or do some extra cleaning. It is important that your agent is able to examine your situation from multiple perspectives in order to entice buyers.

16. Is the agent familiar with your neighborhood?
Real estate is an extremely local business. Having an agent that know knows the nuances of the area will give you an advantage. They may have information on local buyers and sellers that could really benefit you. 

17. Communication
You and any potential agents should definitely discuss preferred communication methods. It is important to make your that you are both on the same page regarding appropriate times and methods in which to communicate with one another. Make sure you get as much contact information from your agent as possible.  

18. Go to open houses
Going to open houses will provide you with a good understanding of how the agent interacts with clients. Eventually, this agent may be the one holding open houses for your property. You want to make sure that you choose an agent that is personable and able to communicate effectively.

Closing the Sale

A good real estate agent should make your life easier. Hopefully, this list will help get you started in the right direction. Remember, you can and should have ultimate control over the purchase and sale of your home. Your agent shouldn't be the one completely running the show. The agent is working for you. The agent is there to guide you and help you make the best decision possible.