We’ve established the importance of working with a real estate agent. Now let’s discuss what to think about while looking for one. A good real estate agent has your back through every step of the process. They’re well informed about the market, the neighborhoods, and they have great communication skills. While you interview prospective agents, make sure you have these questions in mind.
#1 – Experience vs. Relationship
An argument can be made that agents with long-lasting careers are successful because those who fail to deliver won’t make it long. While that has some truth to it, an agent’s experience and longevity shouldn’t be a deciding factor when choosing the right one for you. Forbes makes a good point: an agent’s experience should not come at the expense of your relationship with them. “You will be spending a lot of time with that agent and you need to mesh. Choose someone relatable and real. Choose for you.”
Experience is important but it’s overrated. Ask yourself a few questions. Will someone who has been in the business for 30 years be able to help a first-time home buyer such as yourself? Are they able to relate to younger generations? Do you feel like they are really listening to you and not just insisting that they know everything? A good agent, regardless of their experience, will feel trustworthy and that they are invested in this personal decision.
#2 – How in tune are they to the local market?
An agent who has a good understanding of the local market will be able to help you get the best price. They should know things like what type of options are available within your budget and what the average life is of a property in the area. Find out how many clients they were able to close with last year or at least get to the closing process. All this information is crucial in their ability to get you the best deal
#3 – Can they give you a well-educated run down of the neighborhoods?
An agent should know all the details of the neighborhoods in their market. They should be able to inform you on things like school districts. If there are historical districts with specific regulations to renovating. Details regarding Homeowners Associations and details regarding the community. What does public transportation look like (if any)? Are there a lot of small businesses or is it mostly chains? What kind of parks and preserves are in the area? They should be able to answer any questions you have tailored to your lifestyle. If they don’t, they should at least have their finger on the pulse of where to get that information quick.
#4 & 5 – How many people are on their team? How many people on their team have direct communication with you (the client)?
When a real estate agent has a team, it’s not always a great asset for the client. While interviewing candidates, it’s ok to ask about their teams. In fact, we encourage it! It’s one thing for your agent to have backup to support your journey in buying a home. It can be useful to have a secondary contact in case your primary agent is temporarily unavailable. When the tasks are being divided between too many people, the service to the client tends to suffer. If you come into contact with an agent that works with a team, make sure you know exactly what you’ll be getting yourself into. The last thing you need is to be handed around like a hot potato without anyone really investing their time into your purchase.
#6 – What do their online reviews look like?
Before heading to Google for a tell-all on your prospective agent’s history, remember that people are more likely to share negative experiences than good. Short of personally knowing someone who has worked with your potential agent, this is the best way to get an inside look at their client dynamic. While reading reviews, look for any that have lots of detail or note specific experiences.
General reviews like “Susie is the best! She helped us find our family home” or “Tom really needs to find a different job” aren’t helpful. Look for notes on how well (or not) the agent communicates. Look for notes on how agents helped their clients with difficult situations. This type of information is helpful insight into how available an agent will be for you and also how well they work under pressure.
#7 – How well do they communicate with you? Are they responsive?
While interviewing an agent, pay attention to how well they are communicating. Are their responses delayed or do they get back to you within a timely manner. Is there someone else on their team that they offer as a secondary option should they be out of the office when something urgent pops up?
Besides the frequency and dependability of their communication, what are their responses like? Do they answer your questions in a way that is clear and informative or do they leave you with more questions? Maybe they have vague answers that are more non-answer than anything. Do they seem willing to provide information or do you get the sense that they’re annoyed when you ask questions? All these details will be heightened during the home buying process. You want to have a well-established communicative relationship with your agent from the beginning.
#8 – Are they getting to know you?
Getting to know a real estate agent should be much more personal than diving into conversation on a first date. They should absolutely be asking personal questions rather than beating around the bush. The more they want to know about you, what you’re looking for, and what your needs are, the more willing they are to help you. Finding a home, especially if it’s your first, is an incredibly personal decision. If your real estate agent hasn’t done their due diligence to get to know you well, they won’t be able to properly guide you in that decision.