The first thing you need to decide is whether you like your potential agent. You will be spending quite a bit of time together, looking at properties together, and working through the paperwork to close your transaction together. That is a lot of interaction.
Personality is completely subjective, but you need to be comfortable and confident working with your agent, so make sure to listen to gut feelings and only choose someone you can trust to represent your best interest and will work hard to get you the best deal possible.
Now that you know you get along, have a discussion with your prospective agent about schedule availability. If you work 8:00am-5:00pm and can only meet on evenings and weekends, make sure your agent is willing to meet on evenings and weekends.
Some agents only work during standard work hours, while others are flexible and willing to do whatever they need to work together and make the deal happen. Be sure to find an agent that can meet and work when it works for you and your schedule.
Percent of Listings Sold
Some agents are very busy, but not as effective as others. You don’t want to waste your time with an agent who will list your home but not follow through with the needed listings and work to sell your property at the best price possible.
One of the best metrics to measure an agent’s effectiveness is by percent of listings sold. If the agent only sells half of what they work on, you will most likely get the same level of service.
Number of Closings
A real estate agent may have a high closing percentage, but might not be very experienced. You can determine how experienced your agent is by looking at closing numbers.
If an agent has only closed a few deals recently, you know that either the agent is primarily focused on selling or that the agent isn’t very good. Either of those may be a red flag for you when choosing an agent.
While some part-time agents are excellent, others are not as up-to-date on the local markets and may be a bit rusty when it comes to the legal process around closing a sale. Asking your prospective agent about recent deals may help you decide which is true if the agent has not had many closings recently.
Talk to Recent Clients
One of the most popular methods for finding an agent to begin with is through a referral from a trusted friend or family member. If you are choosing someone without a referral, make a point to speak to recent clients.
If the agent refuses to offer references, that is a bad sign and you should consider looking elsewhere. If you do get on the phone with a past client, be sure to ask about responsiveness, assistance with negotiating a good price, availability, support preparing for closing, and more general questions about the experience working together.
Be sure to talk to recent clients, as the agent’s level of service may have changed over time. It is important to have an accurate perception of how your agent will treat you, and there is no better indicator than past customer experiences.
While you’re at it, ask about the relationship the references have to the agent. Close friends or family are sure to give a more biased review.
Ask Specific Questions
When interviewing for your next agent, be sure to ask tough questions that will show just how experienced the agent is with your situation.
Ask questions about market trends in the neighborhood and surrounding areas. Ask for constructive feedback about getting the right price and property conditions. Ask about what they do to actively support you in the buying and selling process.
If the agent doesn’t do more than put a sign in a yard and hope for a good commission, they are not going to do much for you. It is best to find someone who is engaged and committed to helping you make the transaction as smooth as possible.
Go With Your Gut
At the end of the day, there is no cookie cutter model of what a perfect real estate agent should be, or what is right for you. Everyone has a different situation. Do your best to find someone you trust to do the best job for you. Above all, that is the most important trait of a great agent.