How to choose a real estate agent.
Updated: Sep 13, 2020
Choosing a real estate agent isn't like it used to be.
Like almost every industry on the planet, the real estate industry was forever changed with the advent of the internet and the mass data sharing capabilities that it provides. Specifically, in the last ten years, free home listing websites featuring information that was historically reserved only for real estate agents, have been made public.
This statement is not a nostalgic plea for things to return to "the way they once were." On the contrary, this is an identification and an acknowledgement, of progress. Free home search websites have allowed the real estate industry to service and cater to the audience that matters most: the buyers and sellers.
It is no longer necessary for a person selling their home to contract a name-brand real estate agent. All agents (or all competent agents at least) employ the same marketing tactics these days. Listing on the MLS, listing on all the major free search websites, social media marketing, catchy flyers and mailers--as long as all (or even some) of these tactics are employed, the playing field between agents is leveled. The name at the top of the "for sale" sign on your front lawn no longer has any relationship to the amount buyers will offer for your home. Period.
So, you may be wondering, if the name of the agent no longer matters, then what qualities should I be looking for in an realtor? Outlined below are what I believe to be the most important qualities buyers and sellers should look for in an agent.
Responsiveness. When you call, email, or text the real estate agent that you have contracted to handle the sale of one of the most valuable pieces of property that you won, you expect them to respond-- as soon as possible, if not immediately. This expectation is reasonable. Additionally, you want this quality to extend to others within the industry. If an agent representing a buyer contacts your agent, your agent needs to respond!
Communication. All buyers and sellers are different, and require different levels of communication from their agent. It is the responsibility of your agent to understand what level of communication that you need to feel satisfied, and adjust to it. This is not a "one size fits all" character trait. Choose an agent that wants you to be involved and to understand. Too many real estate agents want to handle your transaction with little to none of your input, and that is not okay. Make sure your agent answers your questions. Make sure they help you understand. Make sure they consider your suggestions, and explain why they may or may not be helpful. Like responsiveness, this is a quality that you also need them to employ with their colleagues. Too many agents employ poor communication skills with their colleagues, and the only parties negatively affected by this are the clients (both of them).
Honesty. Your agent needs to be honest with you at all times. About the good news and the bad news. Sometimes honest bad news isn't welcome, but it is almost always helpful. Your agent needs to be honest with you about results and about expectations. As long as the process between you and your agent stays honest, you'll most certainly achieve the best possible outcome.
The nice part about this agent selection cheat sheet I'm making you is that numbers 1 and 2 above will weed out about 90% of the available options. The last quality almost goes without saying, but I'm listing it anyway.