Thursday, January 7, 2016

How to Choose Your Real Estate Agent

When I first started investing in real estate, I had no idea how to select a real estate agent. I counted on the advice on friends, and on which agent had the most listings, and even how I liked the way she sounded on the phone.

Although some of my approaches might have worked out okay, I know now that they were just as likely to connect me with an agent not suited to the task at hand. I was lucky in that I eventually found Realtors I loved working with. 

I want to pass along these ten danger signs that an agent isn’t the right fit for you. Once you understand the signals, you’re more likely to connect with an agent who will make your home selling process a smooth and profitable one. 

1. Prices your house wrong

The agent suggests a listing price that is much higher than what other agents suggest. You should be interviewing at least three agents. Too low and you could be leaving money on the table. Too high and the home will sit on the market. All agents have access to the same comps to determine fair market value for your home.

2. Lives elsewhere

The agent lives in another town. He probably doesn’t know your neighborhood as well as someone more local, and it may not be convenient for him to always show the property.

3. Sticky situation

The agent is a friend, relative, or friend of a friend. It’s always best to keep serious business transactions separate from your social or family life. Decisions should be based on facts and reason instead of emotional ties of loyalty or obligation. If you want to hire a friend or relative as your agent, make sure he doesn't wave any of the other flags listed here.  

4. Out of the loop

The agent is not familiar with online marketing. Any agent who does not have an online presence and is not comfortable with ordinary functions like emails, texting and virtual tours cannot compete with the tech-savvy buyers that saturate the market. Find someone who’s up-to-date. Having a working knowledge of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, FaceTime and Skype is a good sign.

5. Lousy photographer

The agent does not make an effort to take good photographs or arrange for a professional photographer. Without good photos, your home will sink to the bottom of the market because buyers usually begin their home search online looking at pictures.  An agent who is a poor photographer is often one that does not endorse home staging, and I guess you already know where I stand on that! 

The Realtor you choose should be able to provide you with both great
interior and exterior photos. Source: Architectural Digest.
6. Poor communicator

The agent is difficult to reach, won’t return phone calls, doesn’t answer all your questions, or won’t explain to you the marketing strategy she plans for selling your home. Communication is key to building a solid, trustworthy, and pleasant relationship. Ask how the agent prefers to communicate, whether texting, phone calls or emails to see if it fits your preference. 

7.  Bad match

The agent typically sells homes that are dramatically above or below how your home will be priced. Look at the listings of the agent and see if the buyers and sellers she usually works with are similar to you. While you’re looking at her listings, read them to determine if the properties are being marketed well. The listings should be inviting and informative.

8.  Wrong Age

The agent is either very young or very old. Younger agents may not have the experience and older ones may not be in touch with what young buyers expect in the way of speed and service. Age alone isn't any reason to skip over an agent because a new agent might be more motivated and an older one might have a long list of people ready to buy, but age should be part of your criteria.   

9. Hobbyist

The agent sells real estate as a part time job. You want a full time agent, dedicated to his job, who can be available when buyers and you need him, and has no conflict of interests. He should also dress and act professional.

10. No magic

The agent and you just don’t seem to have a “good fit.” This one is difficult to describe because it has to do with following your gut. Are you comfortable with the Realtor? Do you feel better or worse after a discussion with him? Does he share his expertise and contacts with you? Do you trust his negotiation skills? Do you feel he’s willing to go the extra mile to help sell your home? Your initial instincts are usually correct.


Once you decide to put your home on the market, ordering my home staging ebook and  hiring the right agent are the next important decisions you’ll make. The wrong agent will slow the sale of your home, fail to find the buyer you want, and make the selling process stressful and complicated. But the right one makes it look easy. So keep these tips in mind when you interview Realtors. 

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