7 Things To Have On Your Checklist When Choosing A Real Estate Pro

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As a homebuyer you’re about to embark on one of the biggest, most stressful and exciting journeys in your life. You need to be certain that you can trust your real estate professional to deliver the goods.

However, choosing the right realtor can be difficult. There is a lot to consider, and with fierce competition between agents, all of the information can be a little bit overwhelming. Here are some key steps to help you pinpoint the real estate agent that will be the best fit for you.

1. Speak with former clients

When you meet the agent in person, they obviously will be putting their best foot forward. So, for a more unbiased view of their work habits, try to speak with people who have worked with them in the past. Online testimonials are a great place to start. But for more in-depth insight into the agent’s area expertise, check out their Facebook page. If you have friends in common, ask them about their experience with the agent in question.

2. State board records

Check with your local REALTOR® board for license information, employment history and disciplinary actions.

3. Industry designations

Real estate agents often go above and beyond minimum education requirements to specialize in specific areas of the business. Depending on what you’re looking for, you might want to look for an agent with specific credentials and designations.

  • CRS (Certified Residential Specialist) – Looking for a residential home? These professionals have been specially trained in residential sales.
  • ABR (Accredited Buyer’s Representative) – Qualified ABR agents specialize in helping their clients buy their new home. To become an ABR, agents first need to have the required experience before they are able to undergo specialized training. Once qualified, agents are able to assist you through the entire process, from locating suitable properties based on your wants and needs to closing the deal. These agents are top of their field.
  • SRES (Seniors Real Estate Specialist) – These agents have specialized knowledge and experience working with people in the 50+ age range.

Also, don’t disregard peer-given awards; these can be a sign of an accomplished agent. 

4. How long they have been in business

This is obviously a great measuring stick for an agent’s experience. You can find out how long they’ve been in business through the licensing association. However, newer agents with the right work and community experience often offer a fresh perspective and enthusiasm to get the job done. Who you choose depends on your personal preference and real estate goals.  

5. Current listing inventory

You can find an agent’s listings online through their social media pages, personal website and sites like Realtor.com. Take a look at how their past and current listings compare to the type of house you are looking for and explore their marketing strategy. Also, take note of the number of listings they have and ask them what their typical inventory looks like.  

Be prepared with listing inventory questions, should you take the next step and interview the agent.  Do they specialize in select neighborhoods?  What is their niche area?  How long do homes typically stay on the market?

6. Knowing the neighborhood

A good agent should know about other available properties in their area of expertise  “off the top of his head,” says Robert Irwin, author of Tips & Traps When Buying a Home. “You want someone like that who’s on top of the market.”  

Aside from inventory expertise, ask the agent about the aspects of the community that are most important to you, including school ratings, restaurants, the community, shopping and other local amenities.  In addition to knowing what most attracts homebuyers to the area, a good agent also will understand the challenges homeowners in the area face.

7. Do they have a strong online presence

Social media is the new word-of-mouth, so an agent’s online presence can be a good gauge of how up-to-date they are on the market and their industry connections. Do they have an active Facebook, Twitter or Linkedln page? Are they updating their social media pages regularly with knowledgeable content? If they are, this is a good sign that they have their finger on the pulse. Smart agents often utilize online tools to streamline their social media systems and processes.

Choose wisely

There is a lot to consider when you start looking for an agent. Don’t just pick the first one you find. Do your research online, interview at least 3 different agents and choose someone who you connect with and has your best interests at heart.

Want to get your home search started today? Search for properties in Canada or the United States at Realty Executives.

This guest post was written by Sara Luckman of CityBlast. The team at CityBlast helps over 10,000 agents and brokers with their social media marketing, keeping their Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn up-to-date and professional.

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28 thoughts on “7 Things To Have On Your Checklist When Choosing A Real Estate Pro”

  1. I am planning on buying a new house this summer, but have been at a loss when it comes to choosing a realtor. I really appreciate all these tips. I like your tip to check their current listing inventory. What is a typical number of listings? What would be considered too much and might mean that mine gets ignored? Thanks for the help!

    1. An agent who is actively working the neighborhoods you’re looking to buy in typically carries one or more listings at all times, particularly considering the fact that the average listing takes four weeks to sell (according to the National Association of REALTORS® ). Of course, some agents carry more listings at once, but they might have a team built around them to help support all of their clients.

      But if you’re concerned about an agent having too many listings to give yours the proper attention, you could try this little test: Call them several times throughout the week to see if they answer your phone call. If you keep getting voicemail they’re probably too busy to give you their full attention. And check to see if they’ve sold at least one listing per month for 2016 – if they have you should be in good hands.

      Otherwise good, luck! I’m sure that if you do your due diligence you’ll find the right agent.

  2. I really like your point on actually contacting past clients of the real estate agent. When most people look for an agent, they usually just look at reviews online to get a feel for their reputation. Like you said, taking the time to find former clients would definitely get you a little more information. Plus, anyone can submit a review, so I would always take them with a grain of salt.

  3. Thank you for the help. My wife and I are looking for a Realtor to help us buy our first house. I definitely want a Realtor that knows the neighborhood well, as you discussed. What is the best way to determine if they have an adequate idea of the area?

    1. Great question! One option is to take a look at the agent’s current homes for sale. Most real estate pros will showcase their current listings and recent sales on their website, which will show you at a glance the areas they work in. Also, look for agents who blog about the areas you are interested in. An area expert will know about the schools, amenities, events and history of the neighborhoods they specialize in. Reaching out with a phone call or email to a prospective agent with your top questions will tell you a lot in a short amount of time. Let us know if you need anything further. Good luck!

  4. I love the idea of a strong presence on the internet. It really gives the client a way to get to know them on a different level. Before you hire them, you want to know them. I feel like the internet is that way to make a connection. When I need an agent I’ll be sure to research them online.

  5. These are some great tips, and I appreciate your advice to speak with a realtor’s former clients to get an unbiased opinion. My husband and I are going to be moving out of our apartment and into a house this fall, so we’d like to find a really good realtor to guide us through the home buying process. We’ll definitely talk to previous clients so we know if their services were satisfactory. Thanks for the great post!

  6. I like your tip to pay attention to the realtor’s inventory. We have passed on a realtor before because they had a huge inventory already. I don’t know if it’s normal for a realtor to tell you up front, but you’ll want to ask so your house is getting the right amount of attention to sell. Great tips!

  7. Selecting a real estate pro is quite typical job as it needs lots of efforts and time. I agree with the fact that they should have good reviews and take reviews from past client may help in the process. Nowadays, we can see these reviews on Google as well as different local business directories where they have their listings. We can also check the reviews on social media platforms as it becomes easier to hire the right one.

  8. Tomorrow, my husband and I are going to be meeting with a real estate agent and I definitely want to ask him some questions about the neighborhood. I would definitely be impressed if he knew about the ratings of the schools in the area that we are looking into moving into. Along with asking about that, though, I think that I will also ask about crime rates and things pertaining to the safety of the community.

  9. Facebook is a great tool for this too. Local groups are a good resource to ask around in for opinions and reviews. I encourage my clients with The Joan Kelly Group to do this all the time.

  10. I hadn’t thought about speaking with former clients of a realtor to help choose a good one. Talking to someone who knows how that realtor treats their work is a really smart idea to avoid being taken advantage of. Checking for the realtor’s specific education and certifications is also a great tip to make sure you’re getting the best service.

  11. I like your idea of looking for a realtor with a strong online presence. I would imagine that someone who updates social media and their website regular would probably be a quality professional. I’ve been looking for someone to represent me in selling my home so maybe we should find someone who has a strong online presence.

  12. We are planning on moving to an unfamiliar neighbourhood soon so I loved your tip to find an agent that is familiar with that neighbourhood. Not only would I want the agent to know the houses in the area but the other amenities as well. It would help if the agent could send us a list of useful information such as hospitals and schools nearby.

  13. You’re so spot on with all of these great tips.
    One that a lot of people don’t consider is #5, the current listing inventory.
    I’ve worked with realtors who didn’t know what they were doing and the first thing I checked was to see how many other listings they had. Usually, they had few to none.
    It’s a big tell-tale sign of what their level of professionalism will be.

  14. I definitely think it is best to ask friends, family and co-workers for referrals. I wouldn’t just go with the first one, definitely interview and see if you are a good fit – sometimes there is a conflict of personalities. Great tips, thanks for sharing!

  15. I like how you mentioned both sides in tip #4. Agents with more experience will have lots of great skills under their belt, but new agents could have a lot of passion that the older ones don’t have. That passion could really come in handy if you are a first time buyer looking for new, fresh ideas, while a more experienced agent might be helpful for people buying their second or third house. My wife and I are actually looking for our first home, so we might choose a newer agent to help us out.

  16. Your comments about a realtors online presence are very insightful! I imagine it would be easier to get in touch with your realtor if they were active online as well. My sister has been thinking of buying a house, I think I will pass this on and have her look to see if they have an active facebook, twitter, or linkedin page.

  17. I am currently looking to find a real estate agent because I am going to be moving next month. It is important to me to find one that I can connect with and will like. I feel like real estate agents can make or break your moving experience. I am going to speak with former clients like you suggest, and see if I can get some good background information that way. Thanks for the tips!

  18. I liked what you said about checking what kind of houses the real estate agent is currently listing and if it is similar to what you have. I have a small, cute house that would be perfect for a new family and need to sell it quickly. I’ll have to check online for different agents listings, and see if they are selling anything like mine. Thanks for the blog.

  19. I have recently started looking for some real estate to purchase as an investment. I haven’t really been sure about the process, or the best way to go about finding available real estate, so I’ve been looking online for suggestions. I really liked your suggestion to look at an agent’s current listing inventory, to see if those compare to what you’re looking for! Thanks for the tips!

  20. Thanks for the post. I completely agree as I have seen too many times where if you ask an agent a simple question about a property like HOA fees or what are the comps in this neighborhood, they look at you dumbfounded. Knowing those things is their job and is an easy way to figure out if you are working with a professional or not.

  21. I like that you mentioned to call past clients of a realtor so you can hear first hand how they do business. That could be a great way to see if they are a good fit for you. My wife and I are planning to find an agent to help us buy a home this year. This is something we will definitely keep in mind.

  22. I like the idea of looking through a realtor’s social media pages. You can learn a lot by looking at anyone’s social media. My friend says it’s a good way to see how involved service providers are with their clients.

  23. I like your advice. Sometimes the best things to do are the most simple. You’ve highlighted some important parts and it’s true if realtors were more active online if would just help them in their business.

  24. I like your advice about being prepared with listing inventory questions when searching for the best real estate agent. Working with a seasoned real estate agent is the best way to determine viable options for either buying or selling property. I want to sell my home, so I’ll work with a real estate agent in my area that can meet my needs.

  25. You’ve got some great tips for hiring a real estate pro. I like how you said that it’s good to choose someone who knows the area off the top of their head. We’re hoping to buy a home in a new town that we’re not super familiar with, so that makes sense!

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