How to Choose a Real Estate Agent

Many people choose a real estate agent they know as a friend or acquaintance. This can cause a conflict of interest if you feel your agent is not meeting your needs. Instead of relying on personal connections, approach the choice based on your personal priorities. Those priorities may include experience, reputation, cost and expertise in your particular area.

Consider Experience

Experience goes a long way in the real estate market. Your real estate agent is not just the person who will show you properties. This individual will help you negotiate a sale and arrange your contract. A real estate agent with more connections in the area and more knowledge of state or local laws will often be a greater advocate at the time of sale. For example, a real estate agent who has never been through a negotiation may miss opportunities to secure items like seller-paid closing costs or a mortgage point buy down. Particularly if you are looking to buy a house for the first time, selecting a real estate agent who has been through the process many times will bring you a sense of authority and expertise.

Research Reputation

One of the best indicators of a real estate agent's ability is consumer reviews. Today, it is easy to find reviews on most professionals with the use of the Internet. If you live in a small area, you will likely find many of your neighbors or colleagues have also used the real estate agents you are considering. Ask around and choose your questions carefully. Ask questions such as these: Were you selling as well as buying? How many homes did you see? Did you feel you got a good price on your home? Was the agent available when you needed her? These questions will give you insight into whether the agent will meet your specific needs.

Ask about Price

Most agents have very similar structures for commission. As a buyer, you will not likely have to pay your agent a commission on the purchase of your home. Instead, you will have to offer the agent commission when you sell the property. Depending on your area, the commission may range from 5 to 10 percent. One unique exception is new home developments. Often, sellers of new homes are offered a higher commission on the sale. Be particularly wary of this issue if you are buying a new build, and the agent is representing the builder.

Keep It Relevant

When you consider an agent, make sure you have your personal goals in mind. The best real estate agent in the area may be accustomed to selling million-dollar properties. If you are looking to spend $200,000 on a home, this person may not suit your needs. One way to see if an agent has expertise in an area relevant to you is to look at the listing agents on homes you would consider buying. If one particular agent is listed repeatedly in the price range and geographical area that appeals to you, this agent or one of her colleagues may be a good choice.