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How to Find Your Perfect Real Estate Agent

How to Find Your Perfect Real Estate Agent


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If you haven’t found a real estate professional yet, Zillow’s Agent Finder is a great place to start. It helps home buyers find the perfect home-search partner.

Of agents, brokers and Realtors®

These titles can get confusing. Real estate agents help you buy or sell property. They hold licenses issued by a state and work under the supervision of a broker. Some agents specialize in representing buyers, some are seller’s agents (or listing agents), and many do both. When an agent represents both the buyer and seller in the same transaction they are called dual agents. (Dual agency must be disclosed upfront to both parties in order to be legal, and it’s prohibited in some states.)

Brokers, who are legally responsible for the actions of their agents, are licensed by the state to collect fees and oversee negotiations for a purchase. Brokers can manage a real estate office, work on their own or work in an office under another broker.

Realtors are brokers and agents who belong to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), a professional association with a code of ethics and standards. NAR has trademarked the word, which is why it’s capitalized.

No license or designation can guarantee that a real estate professional is the right person to do the job for you. The right fit depends largely on you. Are you a real estate newbie who needs someone to hold your hand throughout the process? Or have you bought and sold multiple homes, know what you want, and just need an agent to deal with paperwork?

Here are some things to consider as you search for your perfect agent match.

Compatible qualities

There’s a lot at stake in a real estate transaction – money, time, the future happiness of your family – so finding a qualified agent is important. Zillow’s Agent Finder includes agent reviews and star ratings submitted by both buyers and sellers. Agents are rated for their local knowledge, process expertise, responsiveness and negotiation skills.

Local knowledge is a no-brainer, especially if you’re looking in a city or neighborhood you don’t know well. And because buying a home is an anxious business, you want an agent who responds quickly. You want someone who will be there when you need to make offers, check on deals or just calm your racing heart.

If you’re concerned about an agent’s integrity, you could check Better Business Bureau ratings and any outstanding disputes. And you can verify the agent’s license with your state’s real estate regulating body.

Referrals and references

Nobody knows an agent’s skill and integrity like past clients. One great source of client feedback is Find an Agent, where local real estate agents are reviewed and rated by their customers. You can also ask friends, relatives, co-workers and neighbors about their experiences.

A meet-and-greet

Never hire an agent you haven’t met in person. The National Association of Exclusive Buyer Agents suggests asking prospective agents these questions:

• How long have you been licensed? Do you work in real estate full time?
• What percentage of your business is working with buyers?
• How familiar are you with the area where I want to purchase?
• Do you have references from other buyers who have used your services? Do you have an association membership that has a published code of ethics or standards of practice?
• Do you think foreclosures, bank-owned properties or for-sale-by-owner properties would be appropriate for my home search?
• How often will you supply me with properties that meet my criteria? How will you get them to me? Will you point out all the negative aspects of each property as well as all the positive aspects?
• Please tell me how you represent buyers to help them get the best price and terms.
• Do you have a list of lenders, home inspectors, insurance agents and other professionals to recommend?
• How do you get paid?
• Do you have a written agreement? What is the duration of that agreement? What if I see a for-sale-by-owner house on my own?
• How would you represent me as a buyer client for properties listed with your firm? How might that affect your ability to negotiate on my behalf for those properties?

Bottom line: Pay attention to your gut. If you don’t get a good feeling about an agent, chances are you should keep looking.

Evaluate an agent’s listings

This is trickier than it sounds. You want a potential listing agent to be successful and represent lots of satisfied customers. On the other hand, the more listings an agent has, the more divided her attention will be. Also, pages of active listings may mean nothing’s selling, which may be a reflection of the market, that particular agent’s skill, or both.

Previous and current listings reflect types of housing an agent likes to sell. Look for an agent who has experience selling homes in your neighborhood and for your price. If their listings are all new, $2 million houses but you’re looking for a $350,000 fixer-upper, that agent isn’t the best fit.Previous ArticleNext Article Share

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