Choosing a realtor is not as easy as it may seem. When you decide to move and you go online to start searching for homes, you may see a pop-up asking if you want to be contacted by a realtor, and you may think why not? But wait! Choosing one takes more time than just one click of a button. So, first things first…
Research! Get background information on prospective realtors. Before hiring someone, ask how long they’ve been in the business. Find out how well they know the local area in which you’re looking to purchase. The more you know about your realtor, the better your chances of finding the perfect person to help you find your dream home.
Here are 7 important things to look for before hiring a realtor:
1. Ask for a list of recent homes bought and sold. This will give you a feel for what types of homes they normally deal with. Some realtors are experts at selling fixer-uppers, some are experts in a particular price range—most will have a niche. Look at past and current listings for asking prices and selling prices and get an idea of how long their homes typically stay on the market. This will give you a sense of their success rate in negotiating and marketing. Realtors should be willing to share this information.
2. Ask for their license. Make sure the realtor you choose is part of a reputable company and has a license to practice. Call your state’s legislative office and/or local municipality to find out if there have been any disciplinary actions or complaints against them in the past or pending complaints not yet publicly filed.
3. Talk with other clients. What better way to find out about a realtor’s strengths and weaknesses than to ask other clients about their experiences? Ask how available and committed their realtor was in helping to sell or buy a home, and ask them to rate their knowledge and capability. Speaking with other clients is a great way to get inside information, and can often give you a good indication of what your own experience may be like.
Once you’ve completed your investigation into their background, take a look at the realtor as an individual. In other words, do you get along with them on a personal level? Do they show a propensity to listen to you? Are they responsive to your questions and do they help alleviate your fears?
4. Ask yourself if they are relatable. You need to be able to talk to your realtor and feel comfortable—you will be spending a lot of time with that person. You don’t want to feel too shy to ask the questions you need to ask during walk-throughs, home inspections, negotiations, etc.
5. Rate their responsiveness. You shouldn’t ever have to ask your realtor to send you more listings. A great realtor will proactively send you daily updates on new homes to help you stay ahead of the market. Make a note of how quickly the realtor responds to your calls—you might even call a few times to ask questions or leave a message as a test to see how fast they’ll call you back.
6. Look for someone with expert knowledge of the area. You want a realtor who lives in the area and knows everything about the community. Their firsthand knowledge is invaluable—they can tell you about demographics, school districts, kid-friendly parks, up-and-coming areas, etc.
7. Use someone who understands your price range. If you’re looking for a $200,000 home but your realtor typically does business on homes in the $500,000 range, you may want to find someone who knows more about the market for your price range.
So what’s the moral of the story? Before hiring a realtor, find out everything you can. Purchasing a home is a major investment and takes a lot of time, so you should be careful choosing your representative. After all, you wouldn’t settle on a house that doesn’t meet your standards, so you shouldn’t settle on a realtor either!