If picking a REALTOR® were a reality show, there probably would be no shortage of contestants. At last count, there were more than one million REALTORS® nationwide. Finding the one that best suits your needs, however, might be a little tricky. You’ll want some guidelines to narrow the field of real competitors. Here are 7 things to look for in a REALTOR®:
1. A capital R
Not all real estate agents are REALTORS®, and that’s an important distinction. REALTORS® are members of the National Association of REALTORS® and have sworn to abide by its strict code of ethics. Consider this a requirement for making it past Round 1.
Newness shouldn’t be automatic grounds for elimination, but it’s probably wise to look for someone who has been in the real estate business a few years. And while there’s nothing wrong with giving a newer REALTOR® a chance, you may want to make sure he or she is working under the guidance of a more experienced mentor.
3. Knowledge of your neighborhood
You’re not looking for America’s Top Real Estate Agent, you’re looking for a REALTOR® who best knows your local market. Whether you are selling or buying, it’s important for your REALTOR® to have thorough knowledge of your specific area.
4. A good track record
Potential listing agents should get points not based solely on the number of listings they’ve had, but on how many of those listings have sold and for what price. Find out how many people a potential buyer’s agent has helped find a home.
5. A good ear
And we don’t mean musical talent: You want an agent who listens to you. If you’re buying, you don’t want to waste your time looking at homes that don’t meet your needs, or be encouraged to spend more than you can afford. If you’re selling, you don’t want to be pressured into accepting an offer you don’t think is fair.
Not usually an asset in most reality shows, honesty is an essential quality in the person helping you buy or sell what’s probably your most valuable asset. Don’t be drawn in by an agent who tells you only what you want to hear. You want to know that he or she will give you an honest opinion about how much your house is worth, or how much house you can get for what you want to spend.
Consider this the finale. Once you’ve narrowed your pool to three finalists, contact at least two references for each. Figure out which one you think you’ll work with best, then crown a winner.