There are over two million real estate agents in this country. That’s a lot to choose from. Even local markets have an abundance of agents. How to find a real estate agent in – the right agent for you, that is – probably seems like a daunting task. But if you know the right questions to ask, your odds of finding the best real estate agent will be a lot better.
1. How Many Clients Do You Have, and What is the Buyer-to-Seller Ratio?
Figuring out how to find a real estate agent in begins with determining whether the prospective agent actually has the time and resources to do a good job for you. You want to ensure the agent doesn’t neglect you because he is spreading himself thin working with scores of other clients.
If it turns out that the prospective agent does have a large volume of clients, ask how she plans to give your sale/purchase the attention it needs. Does she have other team members or licensed, qualified assistants who can pitch in?
Another facet of this question is the ratio of buyers to sellers. Specialization is often good, but in this case your agent needs to have knowledge and experience on both sides – because a comprehensive understanding is always better. And suppose you want to sell your current home and buy another to move into right away. An agent with experience in both buying and selling can streamline the whole process making it both seamless and headache-less.
2. What is Your Average Ratio of List Price to Sales Price?
Now, the answer to this question does depend in part on the market itself, but it’s still a good indicator of your prospective agent’s knowledge and expertise. Leaving out of the equation the occasional red-hot seller’s market, a good agent should usually be able to negotiate a sale price lower than the seller’s list price. The general consensus is that a listing agent’s ratio should approach 100%, and a buyer-agent ratio should be below the 99% mark.
3. Can You Handle My Unique Situation, and What Would Your Marketing Strategy Be?
When it comes to real estate, nearly every situation is different – the property itself, the people involved, the expectations, and the location all come into play. An agent with experience handling real estate situations like yours is a must.
Suppose you’re a seller. In that case, you need to make sure your agent has a definite, well-laid-out marketing strategy for your home (beyond sticking a for-sale sign in the front yard). Here are few of the questions you’ll need to ask:
- What – exactly – will you do to sell my home?
- On which online- and traditional-advertising venues do you advertise?
- Do you use social media marketing?
- Would a direct-mail campaign work for selling my home?
- Do you provide photography services, and if so, how do you use the photos in your marketing efforts?
4. Will You Help Me Find Other Professionals/Recommended Vendors?
Your real estate agent isn’t the only professional you’ll have to tap during the often long and complicated process of a real estate transaction. So your agent should be able and willing to connect you with those other professionals and vendors.
You will, for example, also have to deal with home inspectors, mortgage brokers, title companies, and (sometimes) contractors. A good agent will have the resources to refer you to experienced, qualified professionals. And keep in mind that according to the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act, you have the right to choose whomever you want to work with at every stage.
So now you don’t have to wonder how to find a real estate agent in [market city]. Just ask the right questions, and you’ll be well on your way to having the agent you want and need.