Finding Your Real Estate Agent: What Should You Look For?

In today’s competitive market, being a real estate agent involves more than making an appointment, opening the door and showing an apartment. An effective agent has to be a highly-organized neighborhood expert, a levelheaded diplomat, a skilled salesperson, and an expert negotiator.

If you’re selling or buying a home, what does this mean for your agent search?


Should I hire a friend or family member as an agent?

When hiring an agent, prospective sellers should seek out someone who has knowledge of and past experience in the neighborhood; it’s important to find someone understands the housing market in your particular neighborhood. Friends and relatives may not be the best agents for the job of selling your home. Too often I hear sellers tell me they have a friend or relative in the business and feel compelled to use their services, only to find out months later (usually due to the inexperience of the broker in that particular neighborhood) that they left a significant amount of money “on the table.” An agent with a history of selling and buying in your neighborhood will know the ins and outs of business in your neck of the woods, and will get you the best price for your property as quickly as possible.

What personality traits should I look for in agents?

For most people, selling or buying a home is the lengthiest and most expensive personal financial transaction of their lifetime; because of this, there’s little room for errors and and even less room for impatience and capitulation. Effective agents are extremely detail-oriented, patient and persistent. I have often witnessed real estate transactions bring out the worst side of most people on account of stress and emotional attachment to the home, so I find it wise to use the services of a professional who can be objective and remain levelheaded under pressure, as an agent like this will not have the same emotional attachment to the property you do. Again, it’s often best to work with someone outside your family and/or friend group who won’t be afraid to be honest with you.

What should I expect when discussing pricing for my home?

It’s human nature to want to get the most for your home, even if there is no statistical justification for that number. We agents understand that and we sympathize! However, brokers who play along with your pricing fantasies will be back at your door after a few weeks asking for a reduction in price, as they cannot justify the higher price to their peers or prospective buyers. Most people overestimate or miscalculate how much their home is worth in the current market, so it’s important to find an agent who can back up their pricing estimate with recent, well-chosen comparable properties and hard numbers, rather than one who simply tells you what you want to hear.

So what should be my top priority as I seek out an agent?

Your potential agent should demonstrate to you that he or she is organized, determined, even-tempered and knowledgeable. A agent with these traits and a strong, long track record of closing transactions should be your obvious choice. You should ask yourself if you want to hire a career real estate professional with an established and tested business plan and intimate knowledge of your neighborhood, or a “jack of all neighborhoods.”