Picking a Real Estate Agent: What to Look For

How to Choose a Good Real Estate AgentWhether buying or selling a home, everyone should worth with a real estate agent. An agent is an invaluable asset that absolutely cannot be skipped. But what should buyers and sellers look for when hiring a good agent? Here are several different agent traits to keep an eye out for so all home buyers and sellers can find the best agent for their needs.

An Agent With Experience

Experience is key when it comes to being an agent because it takes time to build knowledge and make connections in the industry. Many agents recommend to work with an agent who has at least five years of experience. Any less means they’re still learning the ropes, and while this may not be a bad thing, they can be more prone to errors.

Real estate agents don't become expert negotiators by doing only a few deals a year. They immerse themselves in the local housing industry; understand the current economy and how it affects their clients and the sale of their largest investment, their home.

A full-time agent isn't necessarily a better agent, but they are a must if you'll be doing a short sale, selling a luxury home or undertaking any other type of complicated transaction. Don't be afraid to ask the agent how many hours a week he devotes to real estate and how many transactions he's performed over the past 6 months.

An Agent With the Right Knowledge

Many agents like to work in just one particular part of the real estate market. Whether it’s selling single family homes or buying condominiums, it’s important for buyers and sellers to look for an agent who works with the same type of property. It’s common for agents to keep public record of the homes they’ve helped buy and sell, so buyers and sellers can get a feel for the agent’s niche by looking through them. Going to an agent who exclusively deals in single family homes to buy a condominium may end in rejection, so it’s best to be familiar with an agent’s work before approaching them.

An Agent With Happy Clients

Hard-working, successful real estate agents have testimonials from their clients that they'll be happy to show you. They'll also be happy to supply you with the names and phone numbers of past clients. What you want, however, are not hand-picked references; you want the names and numbers of the agent's last three clients. Then, do your due diligence and call each one.

All agents should have reviews of their services easily accessible—after all, word of mouth is the best form of advertisement. Read reviews in order to get an idea of how the agent works, and if there are complaints or compliments that come up regularly, it can be expected that they will likely come up while working with them, and the buyer or seller should act accordingly. Recommendations from friends or family can also go a long way, and agents love to see that past clients liked them enough to recommend them in the future.

An Agent Who is Realistic

Sometimes, in an attempt to gain more clients, agents will give buyers and sellers interested in their services unrealistic estimates for how quickly they can sell a home or how much they can get for one. When interviewing agents to hire, if three agents say they can sell a Chugiak home for $200,000, but the fourth agent says they can sell it for $220,000, this should set off a red flag.

An Agent With a Marketing Plan

The agent that lists your home has many jobs, but the most important is marketing your home, especially in a slow market. Ask for a copy of his or her marketing plan and, although it may be uncomfortable, ask how much money the agent spends to market each listing. A robust marketing plan requires a hefty budget to put into motion. This is where you'll weed out the amateurs from the pros.

Ask for printouts of the real estate agent's last three listing. Check the photos ? there should be lots of them and they should be professional-looking. If there are photos of an open toilet, dark rooms or blurry photos, find another agent. Read the agent's remarks section to ensure that he or she used all of the space provided to entice buyers to visit the home.

While there are many agents who will try to sell you on the fact that they are the "neighborhood expert," the best agent is the one you feel comfortable with, the one that takes the time to communicate with you and the one that is a marketing genius. Since you're paying for his or her services, demand the best.

What Questions Should You Ask a Real Estate Agent?

When you hire a real estate agent to help you buy or sell real estate there are several questions you can ask to better help you determine whether you are working with the right person or not. Choosing the wrong real estate agent the first time can not only cost you money but could potentially leave you with many problems.

In this report you will find a list of several questions that are crucial to ask but most people never think to. Before you work with another real estate agent be informed whether they are the right person for the job or not.  

Question #1: Do You Practice Real Estate Full or Part Time?

You might think that real estate can be a part time job. In most cases that is far from the truth. real estate agents can work many hours a week and need to be available at the drop of a hat or somebody else will beat them to the sale. It is important to have a full time  represent you for this very reason. You also need to make sure you can contact them anytime day or night and get a prompt response.

Question #2: What Education Have You Completed?

In the state of Alaska there is currently only 20 hours of education required to obtain a real estate license. There are many classes outside of this that can be taken to increase a real estate agent's knowledge. The mandatory 20 hours just covers the basics but definitely does not prepare a new real estate agent well for real life experiences. Make sure you not only find an experienced real estate agent but one who knows and practices the law!

Question #3: What Designations Have You Earned?

Designations show the accomplishment of certain sales and real estate classes as well as past performance in the industry. real estate agents with designations have generally been in the business long enough to gain the experience you are looking for. Some of the possibilities for designations are, CRS, GRI and E-Pro Certified.

Question #4: What Do You Do Each Month For Marketing?

Whether you are buying or selling it is important to work with a real estate agent who has a presence. This not only helps bring buyer to your home or find you properties before they are listed but can help with negotiating.

Question #5: Have You Received Any Awards In Real Estate?

An established real estate agent should have a list of awards they have received throughout their career which can help solidify they are what they say. Whether it is a Top Producer award from their company, provided they are not the only employee, or national recognition from their broker's franchise it is a good idea to check and make sure you are working with the best professional possible.

Finding the right agent may leave some buyers and sellers overwhelmed, but finding someone reputable isn’t impossible. Using these suggestions can help narrow down the list and help anyone find the right agent for their needs.

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