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How to Choose a Realtor®

Whether you’re searching for a new home or looking to sell yours for top-dollar, one of the best ways to ensure success is to hire an experienced Realtor®.

The right agent will help you find your dream home or sell your existing one quickly, while the wrong agent can fumble a transaction, costing you time and money, and leaving you with few options.

Needless to say, choosing a good agent is a crucial step, and it’s surprising that many people, whether they’re buyers or sellers, give little thought to making their choice.

There are plenty of ways to find an agent – you can search your local area, ask friends or relatives for recommendations, or browse the web. What’s more important, however, is to take the time to interview about three or four agents, and find out which one best suits you and your goals.

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Here are a few key questions to ask:

Do you work part-time or full-time?
While there are certainly good Realtors® who only work part-time, it might be best to look for someone working full-time, as they will most likely work more closely with you, and give you their full attention.

Are you a Real Estate Agent or a Realtor®?
Although we tend to use the term Realtor® and real estate agent/salesperson interchangeably even on this website, they are not quite the same thing.  It is important to know the difference.

Both must be licensed to sell real estate in their state. Before an agent is issued their license, he/she must meet minimum standards for education to include both numbers of hours and content. There are also examinations and experience requirements, which are defined by the state where they are licensed. After an agent receives a real estate license, most join their local association of Realtors® and the National Association of Realtors® (NAR), the world’s largest professional trade association. They may then call themselves Realtors®.  

So, why would you care if someone is an agent or a Realtor®?  Well, both groups are obligated by law to provide a certain level of conduct, including honest and professional dealings. However, Realtors® are held to a much more stringent Code of Ethics, which is administered and enforced by the NAR, who also offer additional training and certification classes.  Also, only Realtors® have full access to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS).

What real estate designations do you hold?
The National Association of Realtors® and its affiliated Institutes, Societies, and Councils provide a wide-range of programs and services that help members increase their skills, proficiency, and knowledge. Designations and certifications acknowledging experience and expertise in various real estate sectors are awarded by NAR and each affiliated group upon completion of required courses. ©2016 NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®. All rights reserved.

How many successful sales have you completed in this city/neighborhood?
A Realtor® who is very familiar with the local market is an excellent choice. Look for someone who can provide you with statistics and data (such as home prices, average days on the market, average sale to list price ratio, etc.). A Realtor® who can give you a detailed picture of the trends in the local market is someone who most likely has plenty of experience in the area.

What strategy do you have for marketing or selling my home?
If you’re looking to sell your property, search for a Realtor® who is able to give you a comprehensive marketing strategy that contains online and offline components. The goal is to get your home in front of a wide spectrum of potential buyers, so any Realtor® who can ensure this will definitely be a huge help.

Am I required to work with service providers that you recommend?
Do not work with anyone who answers “yes” to this question. A client should never be pressured into getting the services of any recommended service provider. In fact, it’s illegal for Realtors® to force clients to use a specific lender or provider. They can, however, offer reliable service providers they’ve worked with in the past, but it’s always up to you to decide whether you should get them or not.

What advantages do I get if I hire you?
When interviewing a Realtor®, remember to always look past his or her enthusiasm, and focus on expertise. While enthusiasm is certainly a great characteristic, you want to work with someone who’s an expert in the local area, has a long list of satisfied clients, and is able to accommodate any special requirements you might have.