So you’ve decided to buy a house or sell your current one. Now you need to find an agent. How do you get started? Here are some tips and things you should look for when choosing a real estate agent:
- Know the difference between Realtors and plain ol’ real estate agents. Realtors are real estate agents, but not all agents are Realtors. Realtor is a registered trademark with the National Association of Realtors. NAR – for short – members take a pledge and promise to abide by a code of ethics that has pretty high standards and practices.
- Ask your family and friends for references. Almost everyone knows a real estate agent, but that doesn’t mean all real estate agents are good ones. If Aunt Susie tells you that you have to use her best friend or Cousin Bob’s girlfriend is an agent…thank them, but then check them out for yourself. You might not get along with them as well as someone else might, or you might find out they only do real estate on the side, so it’s not their full-time gig. Just make sure to do your own homework.
- Go to open houses. Not only will you start looking at houses to figure out your needs and wants, but you’ll meet a real estate agent at each open house you go to. It’s a non-threatening working environment where you can interact with agents. Grab their business card, strike up a conversation and make notes about them. Then pay attention to whether or not they follow up with you in the next couple days. If they don’t? They might not take their job seriously or have good marketing tactics, which are both red flags if you’re buying or listing a house with them. A good agent will follow up promptly, even just to thank you for stopping in.
The best piece of advice I can give you? Choose someone you like and trust. You are going to work very closely together for the next three to six months (or even longer.) You will want to know that they have your back and that you will get along well.
Dave Ramsey, the financial guru, addresses this perfectly. He says, “When getting help with money, whether it’s insurance, real estate or investments, you should always look for someone with the heart of a teacher, not the heart of a salesman.”