Whether you’re selling a home or looking to buy one, finding the right real estate agent is critical. It can be the difference between having a smooth, enjoyable experience or one filled with frustration.
In my opinion, finding a great Realtor really comes down to just three key attributes. That’s it. Everything else—state-of-the-art technology, brand name, a big team—is all secondary, and, in the end, may not even be that important. These three attributes are based on my 15 years as a Realtor, broker and business owner. They’re also based on working with other agents I admire and seeing what makes them so good at their job. So, wthout further ado, they are…
Study after study shows the number one problem buyers and sellers have with their Realtor is they can’t be reached. Either they don’t pick up the phone, respond to a text or return a call in a reasonable period of time. Trust me, it’ll drive you nuts if you can’t reach your Realtor when you have a question or concern. And this problem isn’t as uncommon as you might think. Of course, agents have lives too, and calling after 7pm may start to push it, and after 10pm definitely pushes it. But if you’re calling, texting or emailing during normal business hours, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to reach your Realtor.
So, how do you find out if an agent is a good communicator? One way is to talk to their previous clients. Another is to read the testimonials on their website or their reviews on Zillow and Google. If someone has had a good experience, it’s likely communication will be one of the reasons mentioned.
One other point about communication: MISCOMMUNICATION. Real estate transactions have lots of moving parts. If you choose to work with a real estate team (a group of agents managed by one lead agent) instead of an individual Realtor, make sure the person you first meet and form a relationship with remains your point of contact and knows the status of your transaction every step of the way. Otherwise, if you’re “handed off” to another agent, you and your transaction run the risk of falling between the cracks and having important details overlooked. (It’s one reason I’ve never been a fan of teams.)
2. A TRACK RECORD OF SUCCESS
You want to hire a winner, someone experienced at negotiating home transactions, who knows how to solve problems and knows how to play the game to your advantage. Don’t just take their years in the business as proof. Here are some things I look for:
- How many transactions have they had that year and in the previous year? They don’t have to have more than any other agent, just a solid number to show they’re consistently active. And make sure you’re comparing apples to apples. A real estate team will almost always have more transactions than an individual agent, but don’t be fooled. Look at the per-capita number. On an individual level, you may find the individual agent is actually more productive with more transactions. Again, you’re just looking for a solid number.
- How many of their clients are repeat clients? Ask.
- What awards and recognitions have they won? Around here, the Ohio Association of Realtors presents annual awards based on sales volume; so does Columbus Realtors, our local trade association.
While stats alone don’t necessarily signify a great agent, it’s evidence that they’ve been around the block and likely have the skills to manage your transaction successfully start to finish, no matter what may come your way.
3. COMMITMENT TO THE INDUSTRY
The best Realtors always strive to improve themselves and are engaged in the real estate industry. For them, it’s not a part-time job, it’s full-time a profession. One thing I look for when evaluating agents are certifications. They’re usually indicated by a couple of letters located next to an agent’s name on their business card or on their website. Each certification shows additional training in a specific part of the business. There are dozens of certifications . For instance, there’s CRS (Certified Residential Specalist), ABR (Accredited Buyer’s Representative), SRES (Seniors Real Estate Specialist) and RAA (Residential Accredited Appraiser) to name a few.
I also look for an agent’s involvement in the local real estate industry. Do they participate in industry activities? Are they on any boards or committees? Things like this demonstrate an agent’s passion for their career and their desire to be the best Realtor they can be.
ONE FINAL NOTE
You may have wondered if there’s a difference between a real estate agent and a Realtor. In a word, yes. A big difference. Anyone who passes the state real estate exam can be a real estate agent. The title Realtor indicates someone is a current member of the National Association of Realtors. As such, they are governed by and must adhere to a strict code of ethics designed to protect their clients. Additionally, as a Realtor, they have access to the local MLS (Mulitple Listing Service), the most accurate and up-to-date online database of homes and properties for sale anywhere. Remember, all Realtors are real estate agents, but not all real estate agents are Realtors.
I hope this info was helpful to you in your search for a great agent. If you have questions about any of my points, feel free to reach out to me. And if you’d like to learn more about me and my real estate qualifications, click here.