The right real estate agent can help you sell your property or purchase your dream home. The wrong agent can botch the transaction, costing you money and time. Despite the fact real estate is a high stakes game, buyers and sellers often invest little time when it comes to selecting a real estate agent.
It’s important to understand that finding a real estate agent is about relationship building. Beware of too much flash and glam upfront. You might be uncertain at first, but take your time. Ask questions and weigh the responses. A good relationship gets better and more secure with time—and it’s based on substance.
Find out which agents are buying and selling the homes in your neighborhood. Read online reviews. List three or four of your top picks and interview them to find the best fit for you.
Here are seven red flags to watch for when choosing an agent:
High listing price
If you’re selling, get listing presentations from at least three agents who will provide selling prices on comparable homes. If the home is priced too high, buyers may be discouraged. When a house sits on the market for too long, people start thinking something is wrong. This attracts te bargain hunters, which could cost you more than if you had simply listed competitively in the first place.
The part timer
Whether you’re a buyer or seller, you want to choose an agent who is up on all the latest market trends. If you’re buying, you want an agent who can jump on new listings and show them to you immediately. If you’re selling, you want an agent who is always available to show the house,
The distant relative
Professionalism is paramount, so be wary of family politics. To get the best deal when buying or selling, it’s important to work with a full time agent who is familiar with your neighborhood. This way you can get the best advice and avoid soured relations.
New to the hood
A neighborhood expert is especially important in areas where moving a block can raise or lower the value of a home by $100,000. An agent who specializes in a neighborhood may also be in touch with buyers who are looking for a home like yours or sellers who haven’t put their home on the market yet.
The discount agent
You get what you pay for and real estate agents are no exception. In most areas, commissions are traditionally 5 to 7 percent, split between the buying and selling agent. If the commission on your house is too low, fewer agents will show it. However, you might be able to negotiate a lower commission if you’re working with a single agent to buy and sell your home.
The niche specialist
Many agents specialize in different types of property: townhouses, duplexes, condos, and single-family dwellings. If you’re buying or selling a townhouse, don’t pick an agent who rarely sells townhouses. If you’re looking for investment property, find an agent who works with investors. Additionally some agents specialize in different price ranges. If you’re a first-time buyer looking for a $200,000 entry-level home, don’t choose an agent who handles $10 million luxury listings. You simply won’t get the attention you need.
In the end, a great agent represents you and your interests. They have to be ready to negotiate on your behalf when sales sour or promises aren’t met. They keep track of meetings, notes, and act as your advocate every step of the way.
In many cases, an agent’s most important work is to make sure the deal closes smoothly. For buyers, this includes making sure the appraisal value is accurate and the home is free of liens before it goes on the market. For sellers, it’s about snagging the best value and completing the transaction in a timely way. Either way, a good real estate can save you money and minimize headaches during what will likely be one of the biggest transactions in your life.