Before putting your home on the market or setting out to buy a new one, you should identify real estate agents in your community who can assist with the sale. More than two million people nationwide have licenses to sell real estate, and it's their job to be an expert on the properties in their community. They track real estate trends and are in the business of helping others buy and sell homes. If you're in the market for a new home, it's wise to know how to find a real estate agent.
Whether you’re a first-time seller or someone who is looking to buy your first home, there are several ways to find a local real estate agent:
- Use realtor.com's find a real estate agent tool to locate individuals who are active in your community.
- Get recommendations from friends and family members who have bought or sold their properties recently.
- Look for real estate agent signs in your community.
- Attend open houses and see if you connect with a real estate agent.
- Call your neighborhood real estate brokerages.
Questions to ask a real estate agent
Buyers and sellers have different needs, and certain real estate agents might specialize in selling over buying and vice versa. Whatever your preference, there will be a number of questions you will want to ask a real estate agent before they start helping you with your home search:
1. What services do you offer?
2. What type of representation do you provide?
There are various forms of representation in different states. Some brokers represent buyers, some represent sellers, some facilitate transactions as a neutral party, and in some cases different salespeople in a single firm may represent different parties within a transaction.
3. What experience do you have in my immediate area?
4. How long are homes in this neighborhood typically on the market?
Be aware that because all homes are unique, some will sell faster than others. Several factors can impact the amount of time a home remains on the market, including list price, changing interest rates and local economic trends.
5. How would you price my home?
Ask about recent home sales and comparable properties currently on the market. If you speak with several real estate agents and their price estimates differ, that’s alright—but be sure to ask how their price opinions were determined and why they think your home would sell for a given value. Request a written Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) as well.
6. How will you market my home?
At listing presentations, brokers will provide a detailed summary of how they market homes, what marketing strategies have worked in the past and which marketing efforts may be effective for your home.
7. What is your fee?
Brokerage fees are established in the marketplace and not set by law or regulation. The commission is the agent’s rate for handling your transaction. Ask if there are other fees you will have to pay such as a early cancellation fee, marketing fee, MLS fee, or any other cost that isn't included in the commission rate.
8. What disclosures should you (the consumer) receive?
State rules require brokers to provide extensive agency disclosure information, usually at the first sit-down meeting with an owner or buyer.
What should you expect when working with a real estate agent?
Once your home is listed with a real estate agent, they will immediately begin to market your home according to the most appropriate conventions for your community. A real estate agent keeps you informed as the marketing process unfolds and as expressions of interest are received.
Be sure to specify how you'd prefer to communicate. Some clients prefer email or texts. while others only want to be called or have in-person meetings. Whatever your preference, it's best to outline those expectations upfront so everyone is working with clearly-defined objectives.
The same holds true for buyers. Because buyers are constantly meeting with their agent to see properties and give feedback on the properties they’ve already seen, communication is important. If you like to communicate via text message, let your agent know. All forms of communication are not acceptable to everyone. Make sure you have an agent who communicates with you in a way you find acceptable.
Every client should expect professionalism. That means a real estate agent will always expect you to be on-time, and you should expect the same from a real estate agent.
Remember, the real estate agent is your advocate in the transaction, whether you are buying or selling. Once you have signed up with an agent to represent you, he or she is your face, your voice, and your defense against all involved in the multi-layered home buying or home selling process.
Watch: How to Find 'The One': 3 Tips for Choosing the Perfect Realtor