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6 Steps To Choosing The Right Estate Agent

buying a home

When you hear the word “real estate agent,” what comes to mind?  Hopefully, you’re not thinking it’s someone who lacks integrity and shouldn’t be trusted.

Unfortunately, real estate sales have attracted a negative impression. The bad players make the news for illegal actions that hurt homeowners and homebuyers and are remembered. It’s why real estate agents have consistently ranked in the top five for being considered untrustworthy over the years.

However, we need them, so this property blog is about choosing the right real estate agent for you.

As with any other profession, the real estate industry attracts many different types of people.

That’s why it is necessary to shop around when looking for a real estate agent to work with on your home sale or purchase.

Some agents will be a better fit, personality-wise, than others. And since you will spend a lot of time with this person over the next several months, it’s essential to find one whose company you enjoy or, at the very least, tolerate.

Real Estate Agent 101

Not sure where to start your search? We’ve created this crash course to help you find the best real estate agent. Think of it as Real Estate Agent 101!

1. First, Let’s Clear Up Some Terminology Confusion

The terms “Realtor” and “real estate agent” are often used interchangeably, but there is a distinction between the two.

UK

In the UK, you’re a real estate agent – not a realtor. However, you’d say ‘estate agent.’ There is another title for a real estate broker. A real estate broker can do the same job as an estate agent and may take a commission from the estate agents working for them.

USA

A real estate agent in the USA is not a National Association of Realtors (NAR) member. A member of NAR is called a realtor. To become a realtor, a real estate agent must join the NAR and adhere to its strict Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice.

Additionally, the term “Realtor” is a registered trademark, and only members of the NAR can use this designation.

All Realtors are real estate agents, but not all are realtors. The critical difference lies in the membership and adherence to the specific ethical standards the National Association of Realtors set. The term “realtor” is often used to emphasise a higher level of professionalism and commitment to ethical conduct in the real estate industry.

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2. Location, Location, Location

You’ve undoubtedly heard that the most critical factors in a successful real estate transaction are “location, location, and location.” Choosing a real estate agent specialising in a particular area or neighbourhood makes sense.

This means that they understand the local market and stay abreast of community happenings that might affect a home buyer’s decision.

For example, you might look at houses near a controversial building project, such as a waste management facility or big-box mega mart. You might not know about it, but your real estate agent or realtor will and can advise you accordingly.

3. Track Record and References

  • What’s the estate agent’s experience?
  • How long do their houses typically stay on the market?
  • Do those houses tend to sell for the original listing price?

Before you settle on a real estate agent, you will want the answers to these questions.

Asking friends, family, and coworkers for referrals is an excellent way to narrow your search from the beginning.

Don’t hesitate to ask an agent for references or call those references, either. Former clients of the real estate agent you’re considering are a valuable source of information.

Be sure to ask those references if their property is similar to yours in size, location, and price.

You want your agent to have experience selling homes like yours. If they specialise in a different property type, you may want to cross them off the list and find someone whose experience aligns more with your needs.

4. Disciplinary Action

Real estate agents are licensed at the state level in the USA and the country level in the UK. In the UK, the National Trading Standards Estate and Letting Agency protects homeowners, homebuyers, renters, and landlords.

In the USA, the regulatory board in your state is responsible for disciplining agents whose actions have been inappropriate, immoral, and illegal.

It’s a good idea to research your preferred estate agents. Ensure the agent is properly licensed and hasn’t faced disciplinary action.

5. Awards and Education

Conversely, discovering that an agent you’re considering has won industry awards is a good sign! Peer-given awards, such as the NAR’s “Realtor of the Year” award, speak to an agent’s professionalism, integrity, and skills.

Another indication that you’re dealing with a highly qualified professional is if they have gone above and beyond regarding continuing education. Their additional training in particular specialities means they are committed to providing exemplary service to clients.

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Some of the specialisations that you might encounter while searching for a real estate agent in the USA include:

  • A Certified Residential Specialist, a CRS is well-versed in residential real estate.
  • An ABR, or Accredited Buyer’s Representative, is trained to represent buyers in transactions.
  • As an SRES (Seniors Real Estate Specialist), I have additional education in dealing with buyers and sellers in the 50-plus age range.

In the UK, estate agents may have a property degree at best or, at a minimum, course certificates. A thorough understanding of property law is also highly valued.

6. Communication Style and Personality Fit

Maybe your real estate agent loves to chat on the phone, but you’re more the texting type. Or you would be happy to drop everything immediately and look at a house that’s just come on the market, but your agent prefers a more systematic approach.

Communication style might not seem like a critical factor in your decision-making process. It isn’t as cut-and-dried as how many houses the agent has sold in the past year. But it’s an important factor nonetheless. You are going to be spending a lot of time with this person.

If you don’t work well with your realtor, you might be tempted to settle on a property that’s not quite right for you to get the agent out of your life.

Final Words

You’ll also want to compare fees and contract terms, revealing the agent’s commission structure. Also, seek to know the marketing strategy and plan for selling a property like yours and ask the prospective agents to give a couple of scenarios in which their negotiation skills got their clients the best deals.