Friendly realtor and young man shaking hands standing outside a real estate property

Whether you’re buying or selling your home, you likely have a lot of questions and concerns as you jump into the housing market. To navigate the journey successfully and reduce home-buying anxiety, it can be helpful to have a trusted guide. That’s where a great real estate agent comes in.

Working closely with the right agent can make all the difference in your homebuying experience (and even to your bottom line). But before making your selection, you should interview several candidates to home in on the right fit.

 

Are you licensed?

Buying a home is one of the most expensive — and important — purchases you’ll ever make. So, make sure you’re working with a qualified professional. Ask which licenses an agent possesses and know the difference between real estate agents, real estate brokers and realtors since each of these professions requires different credentials. It’s also wise to look for additional signs of an upstanding reputation, like a strong online presence and great reviews. And don’t discount recommendations from trusted friends, family and neighbors.

How long have you worked in the real estate industry?

Experience is an important quality anytime you’re looking to hire a pro, and a real estate agent is no exception. Years on the job boost their ability to understand clients’ needs, negotiate offers, close deals and even help win a bidding war. Real estate is a regional line of work so an agent with experience in the area you’re house hunting can be extremely valuable. Familiarity with specific neighborhoods, attractions and the community itself can make a big difference when it comes to finding the right home and making a competitive offer. They can also help you decipher real estate comps from your target area. Working with an agent who typically works within your price point can also be helpful since this can be a major factor in what neighborhoods they have familiarity with.

What’s your favorite part of your job? How did you get into the industry?

Like any relationship, making sure you click with someone is an important part of any partnership. Asking potential agents what they like about the profession or what attracted them to real estate can be very revealing and help you determine if their style will fit your needs. For example, if they reveal their love of closing a deal, you know you’ll have a tough negotiator working on your behalf. Or if they say they know the market like the back of their hand, you can rest assured that they’ll leave no stone unturned when finding you the perfect place to call home.

What is your schedule?

Due to the nature of the job, agents typically don’t work a standard 9-5 schedule. They often have showings on evenings and weekends. Some agents might only work part-time or have another job. In a competitive housing market, time can be of the essence. So, you want to make sure your agent is available when you are and possibly at a moment’s notice. Do they generally respond to texts or emails throughout the day? What’s the best way to reach them in a pinch? Even if they work part-time, ask about how they communicate with their clients and ensure the method works for you.

How many clients are you working with?

Finding out how deep an agent’s roster goes will give you an idea of how busy they are — which can indicate both their popularity and how much time they’ll be able to dedicate to you. Ideally, you want to work with someone who has enough clients to indicate they’re in demand but not too many to stretch them thin. Finding that balance is key. To uncover more about how a specific agent works with home shoppers, you could also ask to speak to current or former clients as references.

Choose wisely

Buying or selling a home is hard work, and the right real estate agent can make or break the process. An agent that understands your needs and has the skills and qualifications can make your home dreams a reality so get the information you need to make an informed decision.

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