7 Things to Look for in a Real Estate Agent
7 Things to Look for in a Real Estate Agent
Buying a house is one of the biggest purchases you’ll make in your life. And that means it’s vital that you have a capable guide through the process. But if you’re like a lot of first-time homebuyers, finding a good real estate agent may feel intimidating.
How do you know who to trust? Who’s going to have your best interests in mind? How do you assess an agent’s knowledge when you’re not an expert yourself? We’re going to help you answer these questions and more. Here are seven things to look for in a real estate agent!
- Good Reviews and a Strong Track Record
If you want to know what it’s like to work with someone, listen to the people who already have. An easy way to start looking at agents is to ask people you know about their experiences. Did they like their agents? If so, what did they enjoy? What were the agents’ personalities like? Would your friends recommend their agents to you?
Take some time to read reviews online, as well. If you’re a first-time homebuyer, look for reviews by other first-time homebuyers. Do people find the agent to be supportive? Patient? A good communicator? Has the agent helped a lot of people in situations like yours? Online reviews can tell you a lot about an agent’s style and experience before you ever have a conversation.
- Good Chemistry
You likely have a wide array of qualified real estate agents in your area. But finding the right agent isn’t just about finding the best resume. You will spend a lot of time with this person, making one of the biggest financial decisions of your life. So, they should be someone you genuinely enjoy.
Take time to interview your top picks. You may even ask them to show you a few houses. Do you like a laid-back agent or someone a little more aggressive? Someone who puts you at ease with a joke or someone with a no-nonsense personality? There aren’t any right or wrong answers here. It’s all about who will make you feel comfortable and secure throughout the process.
- Respect for Your Financial Limits
As you get into your house search, you may find that your dollar doesn’t go as far as you hoped. The houses in your price range may be smaller or need more work than you expected. In that moment, you want a realtor who will respect your very real financial limitations. You want someone who will give you realistic expectations and help you wisely decide how to handle your budget.
As you interview realtors, be upfront about what you can afford. Gauge their reactions. Do they immediately push you to go higher? Do they take time to understand your full situation? Ask how they’ve helped other people with similar budgets.
- Knowledge of the Local Market
A good real estate agent knows more than the current prices. They should know how the market has changed over the course of years and how it’s likely to change in the future. They should understand how neighborhood dynamics are shifting. They should know how many houses are on the market in your area. Otherwise, they’ll struggle to help you make a wise offer when you find the house of your dreams.
As you interview realtors, ask them about the market and various neighborhoods you’re interested in. Does it match what you’ve heard from other homebuyers? How do each realtor’s answers compare with the others?
- Good Communication Skills
Buying a house requires constant, clear communication with your real estate agent. If they don’t get back to you quickly, you could miss out on a house you love. If they don’t explain things well, you might find yourself signing contracts you wouldn’t have otherwise.
Take some time to ask these questions about prospective real estate agents: Do they get back to you within 24 hours of hearing from you? How well do they listen to you and your needs? Can they repeat your desires back to you? How well do they explain the homebuying process?
- A Support Style that Works for You
Some real estate agents work as a team. This helps ensure that someone is always available to take you to see new houses on the market. Someone is always able to answer your questions. Other agents work on their own. Availability may be harder to navigate, but you get to become familiar with one person. Meanwhile, they’re getting to observe everything you like and don’t like about the houses you see.
Again, this is one of those things that comes down to preference. Ask agents how much you’ll be working with the same person. How will they make sure you get to see the houses you want to see? How will they learn your preferences? Then, pick a style that feels like a good fit.
- A Desire to Walk With You
Whether your agent has been in the industry for years or is just getting started, you want someone who will walk with you. Buying a house is a complicated process. There are bidding wars to navigate, disclosures to understand, inspections that can lead to further negotiations, and more. As a first-time homebuyer, you may feel in over your head at times. So, find a real estate agent who’s willing to walk with you.
Do they patiently answer your questions? Do they care that you understand the process? Will they make sure you know your options at each stage? Remember that you are hiring this person to work for you. Hire someone who makes you feel secure in this process.
Get a Head Start with Our Homebuyer Course
Want to learn more before you pick out a real estate agent? Our Homebuyer Education course teaches you the process of buying a house from beginning to end. Take it online, at your own pace. And when it’s time to interview real estate agents, you’ll be ready!