Choosing

The Right Realtor

Buying or selling a home is an exciting experience for anyone. There is the thrill of the hunt and the excitement of the deal. Choosing the right realtor can really make all the difference in the successful transfer of property.

The whole process is enhanced by a good real estate agent who knows the ins and outs of the market. But with so many brokerages and agents out there to choose from, finding a perfect fit may be more of a challenge than you expected. Working with a top agent who is experienced and trustworthy can go a long way in ensuring your property sells at top dollar, or that you buy for the best price in the market.

To help with the Choosing The Right Realtor, 14 members of Forbes Real Estate Council weigh in on how prospective buyers or sellers can make sure the real estate agent they’re working with is the right one for them. Here is what they had to say :

Go With Your Gut Feeling

Your brain uses logic and emotion when making a decision, and that specific feeling you get when doing so is your intuition — your gut feeling. If you're interviewing a real estate agent for the job, first look to see that they do a lot of business and have a lot of raving fans. Second, go with your gut feeling. If it feels right, he's the guy or gal for the job. Lucas Pinto - Lucas Pinto Real Estate Group, LLC

Find An Agent You Can Trust

As the client, you begin the dialogue — but pay close attention to the agent or broker and how he/she listens and asks YOU questions. Most successful agents have access to the technology it takes to make your property seen or to find options for purchase, but it takes a human being to understand and work to achieve your specific goals. Take time to find a human you respect and trust. Beverly Serral - Beverly Serral Signatures

Look For Passion, Conviction And Honesty

Look at the agent’s work. The easiest and most valuable way is to review how they're marketing other properties. Look at their listing materials, website, brochures and signage. Pay attention to their personal appearance. Look for passion, conviction and honesty. You want your agent to tell you what it's going to take to get your home to sell faster and for the best price. Brian Balduf - VHT Studios

Make Sure They Offer Adequate Support

Be sure to do your research first. Are they supported by a team? An agent who has support is able to offer a high level of customer service to every customer. Most agents work with several clients at a time. The logistics of buying/selling a home are complicated, and it's easy to miss something or fall short without a support staff. Will Featherstone - Featherstone & Co.

Check If They Mitigate Risk

Find a real estate agent who is honest about the risks of buying or selling. Throw out the flattery and fluffy agents. You want someone who is realistic and can proactively mitigate risk. When interviewing agents, pay attention to those using real data in their answers when it comes to investment analysis, neighborhood-level market performance, and long-term impact of your decision to buy or sell. Chuck Hattemer - Onerent

Look For Strong Core Values

Whether it's business or pleasure, finding a good person all comes down to core values. Core values are important because you want to work with someone that plays by the same rules you do. For example, if you are an honest person who tells the truth, would you not want someone to tell the truth to you? Chris Ryan - Luxury Lifestyles Group / RE/MAX Crest Realty Westside

Find A Compassionate Agent Who Understands You

Let’s face it — buying a house is a stressful task, especially if you are facing a divorce, having a baby, mourning the death of a spouse, etc. You need an agent who is patient with you and your circumstances. Interview an agent or broker and see if they have the same emotions, outlook on life, personality, as you do.

Angela Yaun - Day Realty Group

Track Record And Inventory

Great real estate investment sales brokers never show up out of nowhere. It takes a long time to build a track record that attracts quality inventory. With single family houses, reciprocity is the rule, but in commercial it is definitely the exception. You need to be talking regularly with the top brokers in your target property type, size and region to get the best deals.

Michael Harris - CREModels

Seek Clear Lines Of Communication

First and foremost, you need to feel completely comfortable talking and communicating with the real estate agent. If it feels awkward or if there is undue pressure placed on you by a real estate agent, this is not the right fit.

Sarnen Steinbarth - TurboTenant

Scour The Web For Info

Just because you have a friend who has a friend who knows an agent doesn't mean you should necessarily work with this person. If you are considering an agent, Google them. Yelp them. Check out their website. Interview them. We are lucky to live in an age when there is so much information at our disposal, so use your resources.

Elizabeth Ann Stribling-Kivlan - stribling.com

Find Out Who Is In Their Sphere of Influence

Ask the agent you are interviewing about his/her database and center of influence. Aside from the types of clients they work with or the type of deals they specialize in, you want to get an idea of the sort of people they’re acquainted with. What you’re mainly looking out for is if they know other business owners in your area. Those businesses may not have been their clients, but having a relationship of some sort with other business owners will allow your agent to acquire valuable information on what they can can do to best serve you as a client.

Morshad Saami Hossain, Real Estate Agent, HomeSmart First Advantage Realty

Ask Them How Many Properties They Own

When looking for a realtor to rent your property or to use when buying an investment property, the best thing to do is flat out ask them how many properties they own. You want to make sure you’re working with someone who physically owns rental properties, not just sells them. That one question will knock out about 70% of realtors. Most agents that do rentals are new to real estate, and their brokers recommend rentals because they’re quicker and less knowledge is needed to rent than to purchase. It’s a hit and run transaction for them, but you’re the one stuck with a bad tenant.

Anthony Grosso, Owner, Grosso Properties
2,000+

Total Properties

1200

Properties on Sale

800

Properties on Rent

Choose a Realtor Who Understands Your Industry

Look for a realtor who’s familiar with the unique needs of your industry, and forthcoming with bad news. Biomedical startups, for example, might need to ensure the property has adequate plumbing and fire suppression – which your realtor could get the previous occupant to pay for, but only if your realtor knows it’s something you need. A business taking over a space whose previous tenant was a dry-cleaner must ensure that their property isn’t contaminated, or at least get a commitment from the prior occupant to pay for the clean up. Otherwise you can get saddled with huge legal expenses under environmental protection laws. A realtor who warns you about defects in a property – i.e. it’s contaminated, or lacks plumbing – is a realtor you can trust. A realtor who says every property is perfect for your needs is either not telling you the truth, or has no idea what businesses in your industry need. Daniel Watts, Real Estate Lawyer, Galuppo & Blake

Ask Your Potential Realtor for A Specific Selling Strategy

Make sure you get the specifics! A lot of Realtors’ sales pitches is all about experience, knowledge, and service. While these are great things to have, they are pretty soft benefits, making it difficult to quantify (verify) them and differentiate from one Realtor to the next. When looking for a Realtor, ask them what specific actions they will take and what specific marketing plans will they execute in order to sell your home. If putting a sign in the yard and putting the listing on the MLS is the entirety of the plan, then they aren’t really doing much. Look for a Realtor that is going to put in the work necessary to get the best outcome. RJ Winberg, Real Estate Agent, OC Real Estate Guy

Test Their Knowledge of Commercial Real Estate Loans

When searching for a real estate agent or broker, be sure to test their knowledge of commercial real estate loans and the loan process. Unless you are so wealthy you can buy a property with piles and piles of cash, you’re probably going to need a mortgage. Generally speaking, the mortgage process is the most time-consuming aspect of buying property. So, for buyers and sellers alike, hiring a real estate agent who has a deep understanding of the mortgage process can make all the difference. A real estate agent who understands the home loan or mortgage aspect of a transaction can help expedite the process and avoid any bumps that may come up along the way. And before you shop around for a property, be sure to sit down with a mortgage professional to determine how much you can actually afford. Abdul Rehman, Senior Loan Officer, Quontic Bank

Don’t Hesitate to Get a Different Realtor When You Need To

I currently represent a social service agency in finding rentals for their clients. They found me through my church. They continued to use me because I fit. Often, people or businesses feel they are “stuck” with an agent. But you are not. Just like an employee, an agent/broker should prove themselves. And if they fall short, then they should be ‘fired’ and another agent/broker can be found. Let’s face it, real estate agents are a dime a dozen. Sometimes you have to weed out the bad seeds in order to find your gem. Denise Supplee, Operations Director, SparkRental.com

Consider Hiring Junior Realtors

While most people advise buyers and sellers to choose the most successful agent in their area, this strategy can sometimes lead to suboptimal outcomes. First and foremost, a highly successful agent will likely have clients that are selling or buying properties in a much higher price bracket than yours. That means that there is very little chance that you will be their top priority. Even worse, since they’re very successful, a small difference in price will have very little impact on their bottom line. That means they may not push as hard as less experienced agents who need every penny, and more importantly need to build their reputation. Since hiring brand new agents comes with even more risks, instead you should focus on hiring a junior or newer agent on a top producing real estate team. This way you’ll get the best of both worlds, someone who is very eager to build a great reputation and fight small battles, and someone who has access to expert advice and guidance for pricing, negotiations, and closings. Emile L’Eplattenier, Real Estate Sales and Marketing Analyst, Fit Small Business

Look for a Listing Agent Who Gives You a Price Range

While a listing agent can’t give you an exact selling price for your property, you can always ask them for a range. Depending on the location, temperature of the market, and improvements, a good listing agent can show you a comparative market analysis, pending sales, and active sales. Be wary of real estate agents who suggest to you the highest selling price just to get you to list with them. Always ask for numbers that support the suggestion. Look out for red flags, such as the agent not having available stats or the sale prices are based on prices for a different location. A good agent should be able to tell you the list price that will attract buyers of your property.

Don’t Choose Based on the Lowest Commission

Sometimes, listing agents offer low commission fees in order to stand out from other real estate professionals. But the most inexpensive isn’t always the best choice. Make sure that the listing agent can stand by their prices and not easily give in to price negotiations. Be wary of agents who quickly agree to work on a discounted commission just to get your listing while talking terms. If the agent can’t even negotiate to protect their own money, it’s not likely that they will exert more effort into protecting your own interest.

Ask Listing Agents about Their Expectations of the Property Owner

A good listing agent will be dedicated to presenting your property in the best light in order to sell it at your expected list price. This means that your agent will have expectations from you in order to achieve this goal. Your listing agent would want you to leave and take the dog while the house is being shown, have the garage repainted, have the bathrooms clean, or furniture moved around to improve buyer viewing experience. It shows that he can think like a buyer and will let you know that this is what needs to be done in order to get an offer.

Don’t Choose a Selling Agent Based on the Number of Open Houses They Plan to Have

Good agents know better than to pin all their selling efforts on an open house. Only a small fraction of the homes held open are sold as a direct result of the open house. Open House events are usually done for the purpose of finding potential clients. Real estate agents use your open house to develop rapport with those visitors to find out about their own housing needs. Meanwhile, the person who eventually buys your home may be visiting someone else’ open house. Look for agents who use their time in more effective marketing tools other than open houses. Choose someone who will market your house to other agents as well. By getting other agents interested in your home, your listing agent multiplies your sales force beyond just one individual.

Choose a Realtor Who Asks You Questions

When choosing a realtor to list your property, make sure to get someone who will ask you as many questions about it as they feel they need to. You’ll be able to find out a person’s mindset and priorities with the kinds of question that they ask. With this in mind, real estate listing agents who ask about your expectations and your opinions on their recommendations will most likely mean they have your satisfaction with the whole process in mind. Additionally, agents who take the time to get to know you, your goals, and your priorities show someone who is setting a foundation of client-centered service, for which there is no substitute.

Never Interview Two Different Agents from the Same Company

When looking for a buying agent, take time to interview and let them know that you’re in the interview stage. However, interviewing agents from the same brokerage may prove to be a disadvantage, primarily because you will most likely end up with the same exposure. Additionally, if the agents don’t get along, it will certainly affect your transaction negatively. Competition in the real estate industry is fierce, and if two agents from the same company find themselves competing for the same client, one or both agents can just end up withholding valuable information that could help you buy the right property. Some agents are very secretive about how they conduct business and don’t want anybody else in their office knowing what they do. Having another agent dealing with the same client might concern them about the other gaining possible access to their closely guarded ways of doing business.

Select an Agent with the Right Credentials

In general, real estate agents all have the same skills, but like any other profession, they can also acquire specialties. If the agent calls herself a Realtor with a capital “R,” that means he or she is a member of NAR. By hiring a Realtor, the most important thing you get is an agent who formally pledges to support the code of ethics. As a buyer looking for property, you might want to look for an ABR (Accredited Buyer’s Representative) accreditation. Someone who has completed additional education in representing buyers in transactions. There’s also a CRS (Certified Residential Specialist) who has completed additional training in handling residential real estate, and an SRES (Seniors Real Estate Specialist) or one who’s completed training aimed at helping buyers and sellers in the 50-plus age range.