Ten Things to Consider Before Hiring a Real Estate Agent

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Whether you're buying or selling a home, having the perfect real estate agent is a must to avoid headaches. Unfortunately, hiring a bad agent is worse than not having one at all. Here are ten things to consider that will help you find a good agent, one who will help take the stress out of your real estate transactions.

  • Take Your Time: Don't pick the first agent you find in the phone directory, or the agent with the most sale signs stuck in yards around your hometown. Ask around, interview agents, and take your time. The agent represents you, so don't rush the selection process.
  • Experience Sells: Just as you want an experienced person building your home, you want the person with the most experience selling your home. You want someone who works full time selling homes and representing clients to ensure you get an agent on top of the market. You also want someone experienced with your type of home. An agent who only deals with high-end models may not be able to represent your starter home to its fullest extent.
  • Look for Education: It's getting easier and easier to get a real estate license these days, and more people are jumping into the field with the current booming house market. To ensure you get a great agent, look for an agent with additional education or degrees that show he/she has studied hard to become the best in their field. A realtor with additional credentials will have initials after their name, such as GRI (Graduate Realtor Institute) or CRS (Certified Residential Specialist).
  • Trade Associations: Look for a real estate agent with affiliated with trade associations such as the National Association of Realtors. This association makes their Realtors adhere to a strict code of ethics that include honesty and lack of prejudice. This membership will give your agent an inside track on the market and listings.
  • References are a Must: Ask for a list of satisfied clients and make sure you call them. You'll want to find out how satisfied they were with the agent's communication skills, willingness to answer questions, and negotiation skills.
  • Organization Skills: You'll want to know what methods your real estate agent uses to keep track of listings and to look up new ones. The Internet offers a whole new realm of house listings never dreamed of ten years ago. You'll want a realtor who is highly organized, on top of the market, and able to use the latest technology.
  • Don't Go for Cheap: A real estate agent who takes the lowest cut on commission probably isn't one you're going to want. But you would end up with more money if your agent takes a smaller commission, right? Not necessarily. An agent works on commission, and advertising is typically taken out of his commission fee. A cheaper commission may get you little more than a sign on the lawn of your home. An agent earning a cheaper commission may not be as motivated to find you a home quickly if you require more assistance.
  • Exclusiveness is a Must: Avoid a realtor who acts for both the buyer and the seller on a home, as your best interests aren't going to be taken into consideration. You want someone to represent you and your needs without conflict of interest.
  • Avoid Fees: Never pay a realtor for his/her services. A good realtor works on commission only, which is paid out after he/she does his/her duty and sells or finds you a home.

Spread the Word: When you do find that perfect realtor, pay him/her the favor of giving his/her name to potential clients.

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