How to Pick a Real Estate Agent in 2019

| March 16, 2019


The decision to sell your home and buy a new one is one of the most important ones any homeowner can make. You will certainly need a real estate agent to help with this potentially complex process. If you plan to buy a new home or sell your current home in 2019, it is vital to know how to pick a real estate agent in the current market. You should also know the common red flags that can warn you that a real estate agent does not have your best interests in mind. 

Check Online Reviews and Testimonials

If you are wondering how to pick a real estate agent in Seattle, Bellevue, Kirkland, or anywhere else in Washington, start by looking online for reviews from other locals who have experience with real estate agents in the area. If an agency has a track record of happy home buyers and sellers, this should be an indication that they can provide a high-quality experience when buying a new home or selling your current home.

Many real estate agencies feature customer testimonials on their websites, but, bear in mind, they can pick and choose which reviews to showcase. You may not get a well-rounded view of a real estate agency or agent unless you look for third party review sites. When you cannot find online reviews, start asking local friends, relatives, and coworkers for their recommendations. They may be able to point you in the direction of a reputable real estate agent in your area you may not have considered yet.

Know How to Pick a Real Estate Agent

Before you agree to visit any homes with a real estate agent you should verify his or her qualifications. Find out whether the agent qualifies as a Realtor, a broker, a real estate agent, or licensed real estate salesperson. Some people mistakenly assume these titles are interchangeable, but they pertain to different levels of professional certification and affiliation with professional associations. For example, only members of the National Association of Realtors can claim the title of “Realtor.”

A real estate agent holds a state-issued license to practice real estate issued by his or her state of residence. A licensed real estate salesperson essentially holds the same qualifications as a real estate agent, but “licensed real estate salesperson” is the accepted position title in certain areas of the country. Brokers earn their titles by completing additional educational courses and meeting hours of experience requirements beyond those of a standard real estate agent. 

Real estate agents may work in teams with other agents and unlicensed professionals that support home buying and selling efforts in various ways, such as setting up home viewings and helping buyers navigate their financing options. You want to be sure to know exactly what kind of professional relationship to expect with your real estate agent, so have a few questions prepared for your first meeting with any real estate agent.

Essential Questions to Ask

When you meet with a real estate agent, it is wise to take a moment and ask several questions about the agent’s professional record before viewing any homes with the agent or agreeing to any services from the agency. Some of the questions you should ask include:? How many clients do you typically manage at once? Find out how much time the real estate agent will realistically be able to spend with you. If the real estate agent is not available when you need him or her, will there be any type of backup, or another agent or team member to assist you? Agents who deal with a high volume of clients are not unusual, but they should be able to manage their time effectively and provide each client with a reasonable amount of personal attention.
? What is your buyer to seller ratio? Some agents are designated buying agents while others focus on selling. Others manage both types of transactions. Some real estate agents may have a limited perspective when it comes to your specific buying or selling needs.
? Are you part of a team? If you will be dealing with other agents or team members during your buying or selling experience, it’s a good idea to find out in advance so you know what to expect in case your real estate agent isn’t available for a particular issue.
? How often will I hear from you? Try to get a feel for how attentive your agent will be with your buying or selling issues. If the agent is very busy and manages several clients at a time, nailing down one-on-one time with the agent could prove difficult.
? What area do you cover? Some real estate agencies assign agents to different territories. Some real estate agents are experts in their local markets while others specialize in traveling to close sales. Ultimately, you want to find a real estate agent familiar with the area in which you plan to buy or sell. For example, if you need to buy a home in Redmond, WA, you want an agent who lives in the Redmond area or at least knows it very well.
? Can you handle my unique needs? Some clients need help boosting property value before selling a property while others need to find homes that meet exact specifications for issues like disabilities, children attending school, pets, or medical needs. Ask the real estate agent how he or she can address your individual needs during your homebuying or selling experience.
? What is your level of certification and experience?  Find out if the real estate agent is a member of the National Association of Realtors or other professional organization. Ask how long he or she has had a license to practice real estate and what levels of education he or she has completed. Also ask about professional awards and acknowledgments the agent has received.

These are just a few examples of questions to ask a potential real estate agent, so use these as a starting point and develop more specific questions that pertain to your individual needs and situation. 

Conduct Your Own Investigation

Any professional service provider usually needs to perform various tasks or complete required courses and skill assessments to retain the right to practice in their field. For real estate agents, this could include attending regular classes to maintain state licensure or other requirements. You can usually check into a real estate agent’s professional qualification online and even discover if he or she has incurred any official disciplinary action for unethical or even illegal real estate dealings. Check with your state’s regulatory entity to see if a real estate agent has received any formal complaints or disciplinary actions. 

You should also check on the real estate agent’s past clients. If you know anyone who has dealt with the agent in the past, or someone you know has experience with the agent in any capacity, ask about their professional dealings with the agent and whether they would recommend the agent for your specific buying or selling needs.

Warning Signs of a Bad Real Estate Agent

If you want to know how to pick a real estate agent, you also need to know how to identify a bad real estate agent. While the overwhelming majority of real estate agents are hardworking and committed to helping clients have positive experiences in home buying and selling, some engage in unethical or misleading practices to simply extract as much profit as possible from unwary clients. 

The first red flag should be the real estate agent’s professional history. Is real estate his or her primary work field, or does he or she simply do real estate on the side for extra income? Whether you need to sell your home or buy a new one, you want a real estate agent who is fully invested and stays updated on the most recent developments in the housing market in your area. 

Look for Familiarity, but Not too Familiar

If you have a real estate agent in your family, it may be a good idea to ask for professional advice or a recommendation for a specific agent in the area to help with your buying and selling needs, but it’s probably best not to have your relative act as your real estate agent. If there are any hiccups in the buying or selling experience, this could cause resentments to manifest between you and your relative and damage your relationship.

Consider Price Range

Finally, make sure the agent has experience with the type of home you plan to buy or sell. If your price range is $150,000 to $200,000, you probably won’t have a good buying experience if your agent typically only handles multimillion-dollar properties. Similarly, you won’t have a good experience if your agent only deals with commercial properties if you’re buying or selling a residential property. Ultimately, you need a real estate agent that is familiar with buying and selling homes similar to the one you want to sell or the type you would like to buy in terms of location, price, and structure type.

Commission Pricing Issues

Typically, the buying and selling agents split the commission for a real estate sale, which is about 5% to 7% of the listing price of the property. If the commission listed for your property is lower than average, fewer buying agents will show your property. Some real estate agencies and brokerage firms offer rebates for part of the commission, but this should not be your sole reason for hiring the agency or an agent who offers a similar perk; the working relationship will ultimately only function if the agent is a good fit for you and has the experience to handle your unique real estate goals. 

Working With an Agency

If you investigate a local real estate agency and meet with an agent, ask him or her what qualifications were necessary to join the agency. This gives you a feel for the agency’s overall level of quality and what type of agents they hire. Ask how long the agent has worked with the agency, what types of properties he or she typically handles, and experience level in your area. Knowing how to pick a real estate agent sometimes depends on your own intuition. 

Ask about the other team members’ experience levels; a good agent will have your best interests in mind, not his or her commission. One agent may not have the same level of experience with the type of property you want to buy or sell, but another member of his or her team may. 

Whenever a hopeful buyer or seller investigates a real estate agency, he or she should check into the agency’s overall track record. How long has the agency done business in the area? What qualifications do they look for when they add agents to their team? Do you know anyone locally who has had a positive or negative experience working with the agency? These are all valuable questions while you search for the right real estate agent in a local agency.

Visiting Homes and Preparing for Sale

Once you start working with a real estate agent, remember that you are not locked in to your choice; you always have the option of working with another agent. If you are viewing homes to potentially buy, pay close attention to your agent’s behavior. Does the agent seem to gloss over defects or possible issues you point out and try to redirect your attention? 

Has the agent respected your price range, or is he or she only showing you homes that fall in the upper end of your price range or beyond it to boost his or her commission? If an agent seems overly enthusiastic about a lackluster property, the agent probably doesn’t have your best interests in mind. 

Ultimately, if you are wondering how to pick a real estate agent in 2019, the best method is to trust your instincts. A good real estate agent should inspire trust and confidence and help you feel more at ease with the complex real estate process. If you have doubts, investigate them and address them and do not be afraid to look for another agent; it may take a bit longer to buy a new home or sell your property, but you will likely have a much better experience in the long run. 

Contact Sammamish Mortgage your local Mortgage Lenders to learn more about how to Pick a Real Estate Agent in 2019!

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