7 Steps to Picking the Right Real Estate Agent

There are currently over 5,000 active real estate agents in the city of Boston. The top real estate agent in the city has sold 93 properties over the last three years with a median selling price of around $700,000. The second best agent sold 145 properties in the last three years with a median selling price of around $460,000. Does the top agent’s status make him the best person for every client in Boston? Definitely not. People looking to buy or sell a less costly home might be better suited to the second person on the list, who is likely more familiar with that market segment.

The lesson here is that the right real estate agent for you is the one that meets your individual needs. Own Up helps you get a better rate on a mortgage in order to buy the house you want. But our help does not end there. Own Up helps clients throughout the entire homeownership journey, including helping them find the real estate agent who will connect them with the house of their dreams.

Below are seven things buyers and sellers should do to ensure they are matched with the right real estate agent for them.

1. Use Data to Narrow the Prospective Pool

They say in real estate that location in everything. When picking a real estate agent, location definitely matters, but it is not everything. The best real estate agent for you will have completed many transactions in your area for houses in your price range and will have completed the transactions in a similar or faster time compared to other agents. This sounds like a lot of data to weed through, and it is, but there is help.

For people wishing to pass the data crunching on to someone else, HomeLight searches its database of tens of millions of real estate transactions and thousands of reviews to find the best agents for you. The service is free, and buyers and sellers receive information on the top three agents in their area. Buyers and sellers in New England can also get additional data on agents and houses in their area of interest on New England Real Estate Network. The site is searchable by town, agent, and housing prices and includes information on who is listing specific houses and how many days a house has been on the market.

2. Search on foot

At a time when social media apps provide numerous ways to get feedback from your family, friends and their family and friends on almost any product or service you seek, don’t forget the simplest form of advertising: Yard signs.

Go for a walk in your neighborhood and take note of which agents are selling houses there. Also pay attention when driving to the gas station and grocery store.  Most people walk and drive the same routes often, so be sure to note which houses later sell, which don’t and who the agent is.

3. Find Your Personality Match

Many companies require potential employees to take a personality test. Done well, these tests give employers an indication of whether an applicant would be a good fit for the jobs. Buyers and sellers should take a lesson from employers and interview prospective real estate agents. All agents have different personalities and work habits. Some buyers want an agent who does all the legwork and only reaches out when a potential house comes on the market. Other buyers want an agent who gives them regular updates on what houses might be a good match and have the buyers do some of the research. Sellers need an agent who keeps them up-to-date on the process to the extent they prefer.

4. Avoid Dual Agency

Dual representation, or dual agency, occurs when the real estate agent represents both the buyer and seller of the property. This should be avoided and is actually illegal in four states. The reason why is simple. A home seller wants their home sold quickly for as much money as they can get while a buyer wants to purchase the property for the lowest price possible. Clearly, an agent can’t represent both sides equally.

If you are considering dual agency, or the slightly less onerous designated agency where different agents in the same firm represent buyers and sellers, make sure there is a compelling reason why. Also consider asking for a reduction in commission as the agent or agency will make twice as much money as a normal transaction.

5. Check for Qualifications

Make sure the agent you choose is licensed to operate in your state and has not had any disciplinary actions against them. Also look at their other credentials. Some agents have special licenses in buying, selling or real estate for seniors or military veterans.

Also pay attention to your agent’s affiliations. The terms real estate agent and Realtor are sometimes used interchangeably, but they are not the same. A real estate agent is anyone who is licensed to buy and sell residential and commercial property. They must participate in classroom instruction and pass an annual exam. A Realtor is an agent who is a member of the National Association of Realtors and agrees to follow a set of ethical guidelines set out by the association.

6. Don’t Choose a Part Timer

A lot of people have part time jobs to help pay the bills, and some of them choose to be a real estate agent. Make sure you choose an agent who works full time in real estate. This will help ensure they have the knowledge base and time needed to help you buy or sell a home.

7. Check Comparative Listings

Sellers should consider getting listing presentations from three real estate agents. These presentations will include comparable sales near your home, the average number of days on the market and what they propose as the listing price of your house. All three numbers should be similar, so watch out for prices that are a lot higher as a home priced too high takes longer to sell and ultimately sells for less.

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