Insider Advice: 5 Tips for Choosing a Real Estate Agent

After 5 years of working in real estate, I've met some great agents and some not-so-great agents. Here are 5 tips for finding a real estate agent that will help you through your home purchase, instead of causing you headaches.1. Ask around. The first place to start looking for a buyer's agent is by asking friends and family. Did they like their agent? How was their experience? Recommendations are a good place to start, but don't feel pressured to use your sister's agent or your friend's mom's cousin who happens to work in real estate. Go through the rest of the tips before deciding.

2. Check credentials. Is her license current or are there any complaints registered about him? Do they have advanced accreditation, such as ABR (Accredited Buyer's Representative) or CRS (Certified Residential Specialist), or are they members of their local real estate board or the National Association of REALTORS®? Designations aren't everything, but they do show commitment to the profession. Don't hesitate to ask to see their sales volume or references. An agent who is active and recommended must be doing something right.

3. Have a trial period. This is the tip most people skip, but I think it's one of the most important. If he or she doesn't mention it first, ask to sign a buyer's contract for the day, so that you can see how you work together. Think of it as dating — you didn't marry the first person who asked you to dinner. Did the agent understand what you were looking for and is that represented in the day's showings? They'll get paid if you decide to purchase any of the properties they show you, and you're not stuck with them if you can't stand to be in the same car by the end of the day.

4. Trust your gut. If after your day out with your potential agent, something doesn't feel right, listen to your intuition. You should like your agent and know that they have your best interests in mind. You could be working with them for a year or more, so if there's a personality clash or a trust issue, find someone else.

5. Sign a contract. A buyer representative contract protects both you and your agent. If you don't have a contract, your real estate agent is legally a facilitator of the transaction and doesn't represent your interests. The buyer fee is always paid by the seller, anyway, so it doesn't cost you any money to use a buyer's agent.

Hopefully these tips help your real estate transaction go smoothly. Happy house hunting!


How did you find your real estate agent? What tips would you add?

Image: Janel Laban

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