Whether you’re looking to buy a home or sell a commercial property, selecting a reputable real estate agent to walk you through the process should be a priority. No one knows the local real estate market better than the professionals, so there’s no reason to go it alone.
At the same time, it’s important to be thorough in your search because not all agents are created equally. As in every profession, real estate agents have certain strengths and weaknesses. Read on so you can sift through the long list of qualified professionals in the area.
Know Your Options
People who help others buy and sell properties are often interchangeably called real estate agents, real estate brokers and Realtors. However, each term carries with it different criteria.
• To become a real estate agent, you must take some basic training classes and pass a state licensing exam. Agents must be affiliated with a licensed real estate broker and take continuing education classes to renew their licenses.
• In addition to the requirements real estate agents have, real estate brokers must take more classes to qualify for the broker’s license exam. Brokers who pass the test can sell real estate without being affiliated with another company.
• Brokers and agents can represent buyers and sellers, but cannot call themselves a Realtor unless they are active members of the National Association of Realtors.
Do Your Research
Ask people you trust about their experiences buying and selling real estate and see if they have any recommendations for a real estate agent. Once you have an agent or broker in mind, talk to their recent clients and ask them for a list of referenced.
Look at their current listings to see what type of properties they work with. Check for licensing, credentials and potential disciplinary actions in their past. It’s also important to consider the average number of clients, ratio of buyers to sellers and the areas they cover.
One of the best ways to determine if you’re compatible with an agent is to interview the individual as an employer would interview a prospective employee. Trust, chemistry and honesty between a Realtor and buyer/seller is essential to forming a strong working relationship.
Ask the following questions to help you get the best results:
• What is your professional background? Ask about their experience, any professional awards, how they got into this line of work and what they enjoy about their job.
• What kind of support do you have? Depending on the number of clients and properties the person is managing, the amount of teamwork or support staff involved in their position could tell you if they’re prepared to take on another obligation.
• Why are you the best equipped to handle my situation? If you’re buying or selling a specific type of property, this question can tell you what the agent knows about working with that particular kind of property.