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How Consumers Choose a Real Estate Agent

May 11 2011

questionmarkagentSo you are buying or selling your home, and you need to find a real estate agent.

How do you find an agent in the sea of humanity that has a real estate license, all with their hands raised saying, "Pick me, pick me! I'm the best!"?

Here are some tips to find the right agent -- for you.

Ask your friends and family. A personal reference from a past client is one of the best ways to locate a good agent. You probably want to avoid the, "My wife's cousin's husband is an agent..." route. Unless your family member is a good, experienced agent, don't feel obligated to use them to help you through one of the most critical financial transactions you will ever undertake.

Look on the Internet. In today's world, you can find just about anything on the Internet (consider this -- you are on the Internet right now). Try Googling "Your City Real Estate," but be advised that if you live in a large metro area, what you'll most likely see on Page 1 of the Google results will be national players in real estate -- not so helpful in locating a local agent. Dig a little deeper to find sites and blogs of local agents (or start with Googling "Your city real estate blog." A blog can be a great way to "get to know" an agent.)

Check agent review sites. Product and service review sites can be a great way to see what other people are saying about their agent. Review sites for agents aren't terribly popular yet, so don't limit yourself to this. And don't be alarmed if an agent you select doesn't have any reviews. Review sites are really in their infant stage in the real estate world. But, they can still provide a valuable resource. Traditional review sites like Yelp can be helpful, and Zillow is a real estate specific site with a review component. If you get lucky, you may even find a local brokerage that compiles reviews of their agents, like we do on I think you'll see more of this in the very near future.

Interview multiple agents. Always, ALWAYS, interview multiple agents. Again, you are about to enter into a very significant, time-consuming, expensive, and stressful experience. The last thing you should do is pick one agent and just hope for the best. You are in control here, select 3 or 4 agents that you've researched and sit down for a face-to-face interview. They are applying for a job. You get to make the hiring decision. Don't take it lightly.

Ask lots of questions. If you are a first-time buyer, you probably have a thousand questions. Even as an experienced home buyer or seller, you'll have questions. Don't be afraid to ask the agents you are interviewing lots of questions. Take notes. Ask the same questions to multiple agents so you can compare answers. If you don't know the questions to ask, start your interview off with a simple, "How can you make this process work best for me?" and take it from there. Don't be shy, and don't be afraid you will come across as stupid. You won't.

Trust your instincts. Finally, trust your gut instinct as it will almost always be right. Probably the single most important thing you can find in an agent is their ability to connect with you, and you with them. You'll be spending a lot of time with this person, and as simplistic as it sounds, you'll be far better off if you just like your agent. You don't need to become best friends for life with your agent. But you do need to feel comfortable with them, and confident that they will be able to work with you.

Do your research, ask questions, interview multiple agents and you will be able to find the agent that is just right for you.

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