Moving? Here's what to look for in a real estate agent

Moving? Here's what to look for in a real estate agent
how to find a real estate agent

how to find a real estate agent

Buying or selling a house is one of the most important financial decisions you’ll ever make. Having someone in your corner can make all the difference in the world, and that’s where a good Realtor comes in.

Selling a house on your own can be frustrating if you’re not armed with the proper information, so choosing a reputable and experienced real estate agent is crucial.

“People have to realize if they choose a good Realtor, they know more about selling than you do,” says Mike Puckett, Realtor/associate broker for Indianapolis-based Sycamore Group Realtors. “They should have facts about (how much) houses have been selling for in your area.”

But don’t rush to find just any real estate agent. It’s always best to take your time when looking for the right Realtor to assist you with a decision this important.

“If you’re looking for a good Realtor, do an online search of the Realtor and look at their web site and see what it says about them,” Puckett says. “What type of personality do they have? Personality comes into play.”

Once you’ve narrowed down your choices, interview prospective agents that may fit the criteria you are looking for. Questions to ask include:

  • How long they’ve been in the business and if they work full or part time.
  • How many homes they sold this year and how many they sold last year.
  • The average number of days those homes were on the market.
  • Their experience with selling in your area.
  • If they have a website.
  • How they will market your home, whether it will be online, on TV or in the newspaper.
  • How frequently they will communicate with you during the process.

The last point, communication, is crucial, says Christopher Dykes, managing broker of highly rated Carpenter Realtors in Indianapolis.

“People want to know how the communication was,” Dykes says. “Did they communicate regularly? Were they accessible for providing information and answering questions when needed? Did the agent respond to the client’s needs and involve them in the decision making?”

Dykes says the seller should expect a comprehensive assessment of the condition of the home. That may include the home’s marketing elements and other strong points, as well as the challenges the house may pose.

“The Realtor should be well prepared to compete in the market and determine a pricing strategy to compete with the best of the houses,” Dykes says.

Dykes says the Realtor and seller should determine how many open houses to have and what kind of online presence to give the home, whether that be through photos and/or a video tour. Be sure both parties have the contract worked out in advance, which includes an agreement for the Realtor’s compensation. You will also need to determine the length of the contract with the Realtor.

When those details are ironed out – and the house is on the market – hold the Realtor accountable to the contract.

“(As a Realtor) you’ve got to let people know they’re seeing the place and you’re getting showings,” Puckett says. “Get an idea how many looks the house is getting. If you’re not getting any looks, you’ve got to start thinking about why you can’t even get people to look online. In those cases, it’s probably not priced right, or it doesn’t look right.”

Puckett says the Realtor needs to keep the seller informed when there are showings and also on what is happening in their neighborhood.

If you’re looking to buy, meanwhile, you should already have been preapproved by a lender, an idea of where you want to live and about how much you want to spend on a home before contacting an agent. The Realtor can also find additional homes and take care of the paperwork up to the closing.

Puckett says it’s a good time to buy and sell. Dykes says he has noticed the market shift into more of a seller’s market.

“The market is not coming close to recovering, but we’re seeing homes move a little quicker,” Puckett says. “So the seller can be a little more guarded on the price than a year ago.”

Editor's note: This article was originally published in May of 2013.

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