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Finding A Real Estate Agent

Whether your buying or selling real estate, most people enlist the services of a real estate agent to be actively involved to make it easier and more effective for you by guiding you through the whole buying or selling process. 

Before we begin, I will clarify the difference between a real estate agent and realtor.  Often times the terms ‘real estate agent’ and ‘realtor’ are used interchangeably although there are differences between the two.  A real estate agent is any licensed individual involved in the process of buying and/or selling homes.  A realtor refers to real estate professionals who are members of the National Association of Realtors (NAR), which is the largest professional association in the world.  Realtors may include appraisers, property managers, loan officers, and brokers.  Therefore, not all realtors are real estate agents. 

Is there a difference in quality between them?  You will find that some real estate agents are very effective and some realtors are very ineffective, and vice-versa.  Some people prefer realtors because they prefer the national accreditation of the NAR.  Also, all realtors must abide by the NAR’s code of conduct, which in parts give a client a sense of security.  For the sake of this article the term ‘real estate agent’ will be applied to all real estate agents, whether they are members of the NAR or not.      

Now that the whole realtor/real estate agent is clarified, I should explain that real estate agents might have different specializations.  For those wishing to buy real estate a Buyer’s Agent can represent you.  For those wishing to sell real estate, then a Seller’s Agent (also known as a Listing Agent) can represent you.  A Dual Agent is one who works for both parties.  This typically occurs when the agent originally starts off as a seller’s agent, then, is approached by a buyer making an offer without the aid of a buyer’s agent.  However, this scenario is actually very rare.    

Whatever the type of agent you require, it is extremely important to select one whom you feel comfortable with.  A good real estate agent will make the whole buying/selling process a lot easier on you.  A good real estate agent will fully understand what you need and will actively work towards obtaining your goals in an expedient and effective manner.  A good real estate agent will also provide you with hints and tips to help you determine the re-sale potential of your prospective home, which should factor into your decisions.   

How do you go about finding a good real estate agent?  

A great place to start is through referrals.  This is probably the most popular way of finding an agent suited for you.  Talk to your friends, colleagues, and family members who have recently bought or sold real estate.  If they were happy with the service their real estate agent provided, why not call him or her up?  

But be sure that it makes sense for you to contact the particular agent you’ve been referred to.  For example, if you want to move to a particular town and you were referred to a real estate agent in another town, it is invariably better to go with an agent from that area you’re interested in.  After all, they should know more about the prospective neighborhood you’re interested in, since they will have more intimate knowledge about the community – local schools, amenities, safety issues, taxes, and other general community characteristics.  Additionally, the agent will be more aware of that local real estate market and its trends. 

If you don’t have any referrals, don’t worry.  Fortunately, there are many ways you can track down a good agent.  One of the best ways is via the internet.  The internet truly has revolutionized the entire real estate industry and has transformed how real estate business is conducted.  Most real estate agencies should have their own website so you’ll be able to browse through and find whatever information you require.  Most of these websites will list available real estate agents, their experience, credentials, and testimonials.  In the majority of cases, these websites will contain online services that will allow you to chat anonymously with agents so you can conduct a cyber-interview before you actually commit to an agent. 

Once you have compiled a list of potential real estate agents, you should call them up to arrange an appointment where you can meet them face-to-face so they can address any questions and concerns from you.  Some of the most important things you should find out about the real estate agent is their experience, how successful they are, their connections to other realtors, and how well-versed they are in the entire real estate buying and selling process.  You would be surprised at how little some real estate agents know about the entire transaction procedure.  Again, this is usually indicative of experience. 

Most importantly, by meeting them, you yourself will form your own impression of the potential agent.  They could be the most experienced and successful agent out there, but if you feel uncomfortable around them, then perhaps you should not hire them.  Trust your own gut instinct, after all, you will be working closely with them, and you want someone who you can trust and rely upon in finding you that perfect piece of propety for you.  After all, you are investing in their services just as much as you are investing in that piece of real estate.