Real estate agents are, by no means, scarce, they can be found everywhere. Further, there are many additional new agents being licensed every day. When you need the services of a real estate agent, it is often difficult to choose.
With so many agents to select, how do you know who the best agent would be, how do you know which agent is knowledgeable? Which one would be as thorough and attentive to detail as you would like? Where do you start?
It becomes even more confusing when a number of promotional companies boldly advertise this agent, or that, to be the best agent that ever existed. Many of these companies declare they provide the most accurate information on agents and, further, only recommend and represent the finest, most prominent, agents in the land.
In reality, the majority of these companies are merely advertising companies and, in fact, generally represent any agent that has arranged for that company’s praise. The information provided is not normally based on any documentation, or beneficial action performed by that agent. The agent simply pays for advertisement and the promotional services from a third-party provider.
The road to locating an agent, who may be best suited to you, can be challenging, but well worth your time and effort. You will spend quite a deal of time with your agent during your real estate transaction. The entire process is lengthy, from signing the listing or sales agreement, to finally sitting at the settlement table transferring your property into a buyer’s hands, or taking possession of your new property. Therefore, trust and compatibility is more important than most people would believe.
In searching for the perfect agent, location is an excellent start. The location of the agent’s office may be important to you in the long run, and something you may want to take into consideration. Distance can make a drastic difference in duties required of agents, such as allowing entry to:
service personnel (movers, cleaners)
repair companies (HVAC, Appliances)
Through the grapevine you may have heard positive stories about an agent only to find they are located an hour or more away. This may be inconvenient in the event a prompt response is required and the distance may affect the extent of the agent’s knowledge of your area. Even though agents are not supposed to venture outside their area of expertise, it unfortunately does occur.
For an agent located hours away, it would be easiest to try to simply rely on lock boxes and hope the property is properly secured and closed up. Not checking the unit, or home, frequently, may not be the best service to a seller. Not being available to suddenly show a property to a buyer that happens to be going through town, may not be providing the best services for either party.
Once you determine the physical boundaries for your search criteria, you should also visit your state’s real estate commission website. Nearly all Licensing Commissions list companies that have been determined to be guilty of real estate violations, the commission will list what the infractions were and the disciplinary action that was taken. The DLLR (Department of labor, Licensing and Regulation) is responsible for protecting you, the public, not agents.
It is always a good plan to check a real estate company’s web presence as well. Often information is available, and displayed there regarding each agent that works for that company. The number of years that agent has been licensed, and their level of expertise, is also frequently shared on those sites.
Obviously, the longer an agent has been practicing as a full-time agent, the more qualified, simply through experience
After some investigative homework, and you narrow your search to a few knowledgeable and experienced agents, you should sit down and meet with a couple of them face to face. Interviewing your next potential agent is an excellent opportunity to get to know them.
Upon the first meeting with an agent, they will ask you to sign a disclosure related to “understanding whom real estate agents represents” as required by law in many states. The agent should fully explain the form and the types of agencies, or services, a real estate agent may offer. If that agent does not explain the paperwork and what duties may be expected from them, you may want to keep looking for another agent. An agent should never merely indicate a need for your signature with a vague comment “this is a form required by law”.
As in any interview, you may want to write down a few questions to present to the agent about your area. The responses from that agent will assist you in understanding the extent of knowledge that agents may possess regarding your neighborhood and property
Ask how the agent will present you with the main paperwork, whether a listing agreement, or a sales agreement. Most experienced agents will compile the paperwork and send it by way of an electronic signature process, many use Docusign or Dotloop. By sending the paperwork in that manor, it allows the client time to read over the paperwork, ask questions to clarify any concerns, before signing. If an agent flips pages for signature without explanation, or without allowing the client to fully understand the paperwork, that could be a warning sign of lack of detail.
While the search for an agent, your representative, may be a little exhausting, locating the perfect agent for you will provide a level of comfort and trust. A relationship where the client and agent are in tune may help your real estate transaction proceed smoothly and uneventfully.
Whatever the perception of the outside world of real estate, transactions are complex, and time sensitive. A single transaction can be filled with potential pitfalls. A knowledgeable agent is invaluable in such a situation and will help you navigate through your sale or purchase.