Real estate agents help people manage one of the largest financial transactions of their lives. They work closely with clients for months, assess and photograph their homes, discuss their financial situation, gather information about their current or future home, and talk about clients’ lifestyles and family plans. Buyers and sellers will want to choose an agent they like and trust.
While lots of people find an agent through their acquaintances, be sure to do some research before you sign an agency agreement. This person will guide you through an important, complicated process; you’ll have to live with the results for years. Do your due diligence.
What should you investigate when you’re choosing a real estate agent?
Only consider licensed real estate agents. State licensing boards have a licensee lookup database for consumers to search for agents and see if they’re licensed in the state. For example, the Washington Department of Licensing has a license search page where you enter a license number or name and address and discover if a license has been issued for that person, if it’s active, and if there’re any license violations.
Years in the Biz
You want a full-time agent who has at least five or six years of experience. An experienced agent has handled lots of transactions, clients, properties, and open houses; they’ve seen all kinds of problems. They’ve already made the rookie mistakes and learned from them.
To provide quality service, real estate agents need to be full time. You’ll need your agent to be available full time to market your property and hold open houses and, if you’re a buyer, evenings and weekends to show properties.
Look for agents who specialize in the type of property you’re buying or selling (residential, commercial, luxury, vacation) and in the same area. Local market expertise will help a seller’s agent suggest a listing price and market the property; buyer’s agents with local knowledge are better able to find the right house for their clients and suggest a competitive offer.
Also, consider selecting a REALTOR with relevant certifications like Accredited Buyers Representative, Seller Representative Specialist, or Certified Residential Specialist.
Ask prospective agents for the contact info for a few past clients involving similar properties. You’ll want to know their impressions of the agent, the asking price, the sales price, and how long the houses were on the market.
Look at the agent’s web site, marketing, and current listings online. Does the agent’s web presence look professional and attractive? Browse the photos and listing details: Are these houses similar to what you’re interested in? Is this agent skilled at using the internet to market listings?
Narrow it down to three agents; now it’s time to pick a winner. Think of hiring an agent like any other hiring process. At the interview, there will be a set of questions you’ll want to ask each prospect.
Sellers should ask:
- Do you work full time or part time?
- Can I speak with previous clients?
- What’s your fee?
- Do you have a neighborhood or property specialty?
- How much do you think you could get for my house?
- How would you market my house?
- What are you doing for your clients?
- What do you expect from me?
- How many homes did you sell last year?
- What was the average list price to sale price ratio and days on the market?
Buyers should ask:
- Do you require loan pre-approval?
- How many buyers did you represent last year?
- How many homes do you usually show buyers?
- Do you require a buyer’s agency agreement?
- How will you determine which homes meet my needs?
- How do you provide information about houses?
- Do you attend inspections and closings?
- How do you communicate with clients?
- How do you present inspection reports and request repairs?
- Can you provide client testimonials and contact information?
Pay attention to what they say and how they say it. Determine whether he or she is a good listener and adept at explaining unfamiliar concepts.
If you follow the steps and ask the questions above, you’ll probably hire a great agent who’ll help you get your dream house or secure an awesome deal.
Want to become a Washington real estate agent? You’re in luck: Just a click away you’ll find exactly the real estate training you’ll need at 360training.com. These real estate courses are interactive and online so you can finish in a way that works for you. Start a new career today!