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Perfect Match: 10 essential points for choosing the right real estate agent for you

When youre ready to buy or sell a house, finding the right real estate agent may seem a little daunting  but its crucial to the process. At Briggs Freeman Sothebys International Realty, we know real estate inside and out, and have since 1960. Especially with the current real estate reality a hot market that may not normalize for a while  its more important than ever to work with a professional agent whether you are buying or selling or both. First, well define buyers agent and sellers agent the two basic types then youll read on for our tips to make your next real estate transaction the very best it can be.

What is a buyers agent?

A buyers agent is the professional who connects you with properties that align with your wants, needs and budget. When they represent you as the purchaser of a home, they are legally bound to act on your behalf and in your best interest throughout the transaction process. In Texas, agents cannot act as dual agents  meaning, they cannot represent both the buyer and the seller in a transaction so you have extra assurance that your buyers agent is working to get you the best terms.

What is a sellers agent?

A sellers agent, on the other hand, is the person who lists your own home or property for sale. This includes advising you about the fair market value; marketing your home on the multiple listing service (MLS) and by other methods (social media, digital ads, print publications; whatever ways the agent feels are best), working directly with potential buyers, negotiating the contracts terms and managing the entire transaction from start to finish.

Your 10-point checklist for choosing a real estate agent

Experience. Licenses and certifications. Referrals, reviews and references. Goal alignment. These are a few of the items that should be at the top of your list, each giving great insight into what a real estate agent actually can do for you.

1. Meet multiple agents

Love at first sight may be the stuff of romantic-comedy legend, but as much as you may like the first agent you meet, its in your best interest to meet with at least two ideally, three to five  to make sure your goals and personalities align. Start online by comparing agents, then set up meetings or video calls to get to know each one. Whether you are buying, selling or both, youre about to make a major financial transaction: You need someone on your side who you can trust and who you can speak freely to about your wants, needs and concerns.

2. Ask a lot of questions

Once youve selected some agents to interview, make a list of questions that are important to you. Some must-ask questions include how long theyve been in real estate, whether they typically work with buyers or sellers, how many clients they work with at the same time and whether they have a particular specialty. The more questions you ask, the more comfortable youll feel with your final agent selection.

3. Transparency

When interviewing potential real estate agents, ask them about their approach to a homes flaws. An agent who praises a property and oversells certain features is less beneficial to you in the long run than one who will be straightforward and honest. Transparent agents may point out any potential issues of which theyre already aware (such as cracked foundations, water stains on ceilings or anything that immediately signals a potential problem) and can help you make the right home-buying decision.

4. Experience

Though its not an absolute requirement, hiring a full-time real estate agent will almost always be your best bet  though there are great part-time agents who will also hustle on your behalf. But ask the question. Beyond that, find out how many years theyve been in the industry and how long theyve been a licensed agent; whether theyre part of any local, state or national real estate organizations; and how many transactions theyve completed in the past year (or whatever timeframe gives you the highest comfort level).

5. Licenses and certifications

Ask for an agents license and any other certifications, to make sure theyre indeed qualified (and legally set up) to act on your behalf in a real estate transaction.

6. Referrals, references and reviews

When seeking out a professional real estate agent, ask for referrals from other people in the business that you trust: mortgage brokers; real estate attorneys; and other industry professionals. Chances are, if someone you trust recommends an agent, you can likely bank on their expertise and professional opinion. Ask for references from an agents previous clients and reach out to them, if possible, with specific questions about their experiences. Read online reviews about the agent and the brokerage or company they work for, too. If you come across any negative reviews, check whether the bad experience was due to the agent specifically, or due to issues beyond their contol. 

7. Communication style

Do you prefer to communicate via text, e-mail or phone? It may seem simple, but if youre able to respond quicker to a text message than to a phone call in making a decision relevant to the process, its important that your agent respects and adheres to, whenever possible, your preferred method of communication. And, no matter the format of your interactions, an agent should always be able to answer questions clearly and confidently, or let you know they need to ask someone else to confirm, rather than give you bad or incomplete information.

8. Market and neighborhood knowledge

In addition to asking your agent how many years theyve been licensed, its good to find out how well they know the city youre moving to. More specifically, find out whether they specialize in a specific neighborhood or neighborhoods that are of interest to you. An agent with in-depth experience in a particular area can provide insight that other agents may not.

9. Personal compatibility

No matter how good an agent is or how successful their track record is, its usually best to work with someone you get along with on a personal level. They dont have to share every interest and hobby you have, of course, but a little friendly rapport goes a long way in elevating the experience from good to great.

10. Marketing your home

If you are selling your home, ask the selling agent how they plan to market it. Will they limit it to an MLS listing? Or, will they also promote your property on social media, through direct marketing, open houses and/or other methods? Ask them what has worked best in the past and talk about other homes theyve sold and the marketing tools they implemented.

Find the right agent for you

Armed with these topics of discussion, youll have the tools you need to find the best agent for your real estate transactions, whether its selling your current home, buying a new one or both. 

One great place to start? Right here.

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