How to pick the right real estate agent?

Once you’ve decided to buy or sell a home, the next step is to hire a real estate agent. The right realtor will make the process as easy and low-stress as possible, so it’s important to choose someone trustworthy, knowledgeable, and experienced.

With so many available real estate agents, though, it can be hard to know who to pick. Every realtor you interview will tell you why they’re the best in the area, so it’s up to you to do your homework on prospective agents. Here are nine ways to find the perfect realtor:

1. Get referrals.

Word-of-mouth referrals can be the best way to narrow down your search. Everyone has different needs and priorities, so a realtor who’s the perfect fit for your friend or neighbor may not be the perfect fit for you. However, getting an honest recommendation from someone you trust will lead your search in the right direction. Ask around your community to get a list of realtors who are liked by other homeowners in your area.

If you’re struggling to find referrals from people you know, use the internet. There are plenty of review and testimonial websites that can help you find trustworthy professionals in your town.

2. Review their history.

Experience shouldn’t be your only consideration when hiring a realtor, but it is important. A reputable real estate agent should be able to offer specific numbers relating to their sales.

Ask your realtor how many sales they’ve achieved in your neighborhood. Also, review their recent transactions and compare the listing price and the sale price. This should give you a good understanding of their negotiating skills. Consider the number of days their previous properties spent on the market, too.

Your realtor should have experience selling or closing on homes similar to yours. If most of their previous work is with houses far larger or smaller, their past experience may not be helpful for you.

3. Look them up online.

In this day and age, almost all realtors have an online presence. The internet plays a massive role in home sales today, so your real estate agent should be active online as well. Explore their website or their social media profiles, and look up their current listings on real estate sites. Not only can this help you learn more about the realtor, but it also shows you how your home will be marketed.

4. Ask them about their plan.

Not all realtors use the same strategies, so it’s important to understand how your realtor works before you officially hire them. Some real estate agents strongly embrace online marketing, and others prefer postcard mailings or other forms of print marketing. Some will help you stage your house before a showing, and some may take professional photos.

Realtors that offer these extra services may charge more, but they’ll also deliver great results. Your real estate agent should be able to explain their plan to you step by step so that you can be sure they have a clear, actionable strategy.

5. Be sure they’re not just telling you what you want to hear.

You might be tempted to work with the realtor who tells you that they can sell your home in a week. However, be wary of real estate agents who make these dramatic claims. It can be tough to hear that your home won’t sell for as much as you’d hoped, but it’s also a sign that your realtor is being honest with you.

You and your realtor should both be able to communicate openly with each other. You should feel free to voice any concerns or problems you have, and your realtor should be transparent about the realities of buying or selling a home.

6. Consider their support.

Some realtors work independently, and others are supported by a team. Typically, real estate agents who have a team provide better services because they can delegate certain tasks to their support staff.

Your realtor should have connections to other professionals in the area, too. For example, it can be very helpful to work with a realtor who has a relationship with a mortgage company, repairman, or closing attorney. Finding and meeting with all of these parties can be difficult if you don’t have any connections, but a real estate agent who knows the right people will make the process much easier.

7. Choose someone you get along with.

A realtor could have years of experience, a strong knowledge of the market in your area, and all of the resources needed to sell your home quickly, but if you don’t get along with them, you shouldn’t hire them. Work with someone you trust and enjoy spending time with. Selling or buying a home isn’t usually a fast process, so you should feel comfortable around your real estate agent.

8. Work with someone who has your best interests at heart.

When speaking with your prospective realtors, try to get an understanding of their core values. Some people are in the business because they’re passionate about helping people find the perfect homes, and this passion will shine through as they speak about their work.

Others are more interested in benefiting themselves. If you get the impression that a realtor is much more focused on their own success and image than on your satisfaction with the process, you should probably move on to someone else.

9. Trust your instincts.

When it comes to making judgments about people, your gut feeling is often right. While you should still do your research before hiring a realtor, don’t ignore your instincts. If something tells you that you shouldn’t work with a certain real estate agent, it may be best to listen to that feeling. If it feels right, that may be a sign that the realtor is a good fit for you.

Choosing a real estate agent isn’t an easy decision, but if you take your time and do your research, you should feel confident that you’ve hired a great realtor. Don’t rush the decision or make your choice based on only one factor. Instead, consider the experience, portfolios, and personalities of several realtors in your area. Then, you can trust that the real estate agent you hire is the best fit for you.

Michael Carr is the Co-Founder & COO of BrandFace, LLC. He is also a real estate branding expert and international bestselling author. As America’s Top Selling Real Estate Auctioneer, he has sold billions of dollars in commercial and residential properties.