Researching Local Agents
Purchasing or selling a property can be a cumbersome and intimidating process especially if you don’t have an experienced real estate agent by your side. And while the internet may seem to offer an abundance of resources related to the home buying and selling process, the advice from a real estate professional can be invaluable. To ensure that you make well-informed decisions, locating a local agent that meets your needs is essential for a successful transaction.
Setting Realistic Expectations
Before you begin the agent research process, it’s important to understand what a real estate agent can and cannot do. The role of a real estate agent is fairly straightforward—they guide buyers and sellers through the home purchasing/selling process. Agents are also responsible for managing paperwork, negotiating contracts, and marketing listings.
Although a realtor is invaluable to the home buying or selling process, this professional cannot control the market value of your property, they are not in direct control of the mortgage or loan process, or even the inspection. Real estate agents are also not financial or legal advisors and may not be able to answer questions you have about insurance or taxes.
Before searching for a local real estate agent, it’s important to understand what type of person/team you’re looking for. Do you need an experienced buyer’s agent to help manage the entire transaction, or are you more comfortable working with a seller’s agent?
One of the best places to start looking for an agent is with family and friends who have recently completed home buying or selling transactions. By reviewing personal accounts, you can gain valuable insight into the agents’ expertise, understanding, and work ethic.
Once you’ve identified a few agents, you can begin the interview process. It’s important to ask potential agents why they chose to become realtors, how long they’ve been in the business, and if they have any references or clients that you can speak with.
During the interview, you should also inquire about the agent’s process. Does the agent prefer face-to-face meetings or digital communications? How will the agent handle paperwork? How will you be updated on the process? What is their experience with a home inspection and appraisal?
Check References & Credentials
Before settling on an agent, it’s a good idea to contact any of the references they’ve provided, or you can check references online. You can also narrow your search to only real estate agents who are registered with the National Association of REALTORS®.
It’s important to understand the license qualifications, such as any special certifications and designations that the agent may have earned. This may give you a better understanding of the agent’s knowledge, skill level, and experience in the real estate industry.
Get to Know Your Agent
After confirming the credentials, you should discuss your personal preferences and needs. When you meet with a potential agent, it’s important to get to know them before entering into any formal agreement.
An informal conversation can provide a better understanding of the agent’s communication style, knowledge, and understanding of the local real estate market. It’s also helpful to gauge an agent’s enthusiasm and to be comfortable with the person you’ll be working with and can trust your investment and goals with.
Review Service Agreements
Before hiring an agent, it’s important to review their real estate service agreement. A real estate service agreement should outline the services that the agent will perform, their compensation, and other details such as the working relationship, termination policy, and any rebates or incentives.
If you’re confused by the contract or feel unsure of any term, you should seek legal advice before signing. Once everything is agreed upon and signed, you are officially geared to start your home buying or selling journey and have a real estate agent by your side.
Trust Your Instincts
Real estate transactions can be complex and require an experienced professional to manage the entire process. Following the above tips and using your best judgement can help you find the right agent and make your home purchase or sale go smoothly.
What’s more, building a relationship with your agent can open up additional advantages. Since your realtor will be familiar with your home buying/selling needs and preferences, they may be able to anticipate even potential conflicts and narrow down your choices. Ultimately, trust your intuition and take your time to ensure that you find the right local real estate agent for your transaction.