7 Ways to Avoid a Crummy Real Estate Agent
In an uncertain housing market, an effective real estate agent can be a big help to consumers looking to buy or sell property. But not all real estate agents are created equal. Consumers who end up with a dud throw additional risk onto what's already likely to be the largest financial transaction of their lives. Choosing a real estate agent is a major decision, says
1. Locate candidates.
Begin your selection process by putting together a slate of qualified candidates. Start by speaking with friends and relatives who have recently bought or sold a home. What did they think about their agent? Would they use him or her again? "Get some really good word-of-mouth recommendations from people who have used an agent," says
2. Run background checks.
Once you've got a handful of names, it's time for a bit of amateur detective work. Plug the names into
3. Conduct interviews.
After narrowing down the field of candidates, meet the agents face to face. "The main thing is to sit down with the Realtor and make sure that you feel comfortable with that individual and you feel like you can have a working relationship with them," says
4. Establish experience.
In addition to getting a feel for an agent's personality and professionalism, there are several key qualifications consumers should establish during the interview. Determining the agent's experience in your target market is perhaps the most important. "You really need to ask them where they work most of the time: Where do you live? Where do you work? What area of town are most of your transactions in?" Vredevoogd Combs says. Consumers should look for agents with extensive experience in the area where their transaction is taking place. Vredevoogd Combs uses the analogy of a patient searching for a surgeon to perform an appendectomy. "Are you going to be his first patient, or has [the doctor] done 10,000 of them?" she says.
5. Consider communication.
Consumers need to be sure that their agent will communicate effectively with them as the process unfolds. "Those who are Gen Xers want to only talk to you via E-mail and text, and there might be some agents who might be of an age where E-mail and text aren't the major ways of communication," Vredevoogd Combs says. "Misunderstandings happen when you don't have all of that worked out upfront." But regardless of the form of communication, consumers need an agent who is responsive and easy to reach. "And you can test that," Dorkin says. "Call them on off hours and see if they respond and how quickly they do respond ... If they don't get back to you [promptly], that is a huge red flag."
6. Know resources, commitment.
An agent who has robust resources will often be able to produce better results for their clients, Dorkin says. He suggests inquiring about the additional resources -- such as a staff -- that the agent can bring to bear on the transaction. "A bonus would be if somebody has a team or an assistant," Dorkin says. "That's just kind of a good sign that they have got their business structure together." He also recommends that buyers steer clear of agents who work in real estate only part time. "They are probably doing that and something else, whether it is raising a family or doing another job," he says. "You do want somebody who is fully devoted to being either a sales or a buyer's agent."
7. Call references.
Finally, consumers should ask agents for a list of clients they have represented recently. "References are good -- but the thing that most people don't do is they don't call them," Phipps says. "Call them." When speaking with references, consumers should try to find out as many details as possible about the agent's performance during previous transactions, Dorkin says.
- Rules To Improve Credit History and Raise Credit Score
- 7 Ways to Avoid a Crummy Real Estate Agent
- Confused About New World of Mortgage Finance? You're Not Alone
- Underwater on Mortgage But Too Much Skin in Game to Walk Away
- 7 Reasons to Downsize in Retirement
- Investment Property Costs: Add These Real Estate Expenses to Your Budget
- Don't Make These Real Estate Investing Mistakes
- Don't Make These Real Estate Investing Mistakes (Part 2)
- 12 Hidden Costs of Homeownership
- Don't Sign Over Title Until Your Name's Off the Mortgage
- Quitclaim Deed Not a Way to Get Mortgage Modification
- Nine Ways to Make Your Home More Appealing to Buyers
- Loan Modification Angst
- Obama Housing Rescue Tackles Unemployment & Underwater Loans
- How Much House Can I Afford? Calculating Home Affordability
- Home Sales Flat Before Spring Buying Season
- More Homeowners Pursue Remodeling Projects
- America's Most Underwater Housing Markets
- Energy-Efficient Updates Help Homeowners Save Cash
- Home Buying Checklist: What Savvy Home Buyers Need to Know
- Social Networking for Realtors Mortgage Lenders Buyers and Sellers
- Home Affordable Program Failing Homeowners
- Rate of Home Price Declines Slows, But More Drops May Be Ahead
- The Future of Home-Price Appreciation
- What Tanking Home Sales Mean for Economic Recovery
- Home Foreclosures Approach Peak Range
Real Estate - 7 Ways to Avoid a Crummy Real Estate Agent
(c) 2010 Real Estate Matters, Ilyce Glink