Choosing a real estate agent who is qualified, knowledgeable and the right match for your needs will make all the difference in the success of selling or buying a home. If you don't do your homework before choosing a house agent, you're taking the same risk as you would choosing apples from a barrel in the supermarket produce section. Some of the apples are sweet, others are sour, a few are only for cooking and the rest look too green and not quite ready for eating. You think for a second and then reach in and grab the first one that looks good, only to find out later that it wasn't exactly what you expected.
For an apple, it may not matter. But that kind of decision-making often happens when people choose a real estate agent to help them buy a home. On the surface, all real estate agents seem alike. They all charge about the same fee, usually around 6 percent of the sale price, and most agencies offer similar services. But in reality, differences can be huge. Consumers who don't do their homework can wind up getting bad advice that could cost thousands. To choose a top-notch, professional real estate agent, do the following.
When choosing a house agent, the best place to start is by asking friends for referrals. If you're new to the area, do an informal search of the properties in the neighborhood. If the same name pops up on lots of signs, you've probably found someone who specializes in that particular area. This can be a real plus, since the agent will probably be well-versed in the homes, schools, municipal services and other important information concerning the area.
Once you've narrowed down the list of possible real estate agents, make an appointment to meet with each agent in their office. Before you start talking about houses, find out as much as you can about the agent. You should ask:
Take note if the agent is good listener. Do they cut you off before you've finished a sentence? There's nothing worse than wasting time looking at houses you have no interest in because the agent has not listened carefully to your needs.
Once you feel convinced that a real estate agent can do a good job representing you, you need to decide what kind of contractual relationship you will have. It used to be that agents always "represented" the seller of the home. Nowadays, things are very different and you can choose from the following three options:
One mistake many inexperienced home buyers make when they're choosing a real estate agent is to call real estate offices based only on a sign in the front yard of an advertised property. What they often don't realize is that the agent who shows them the house becomes their agent for the sale. Cold-calling a group of real estate offices is a lousy way to select the professional who will help you through the biggest purchase of your life. Selecting the house agent first--based upon the agent's experience, reputation and your personal comfort level--is the best way to be certain that your agent truly represents you!