How To Choose a Real Estate Agent in 2024
Once you’ve collected names of several agents, you’ll need to consider certain attributes as you narrow the field. Here are key things to consider when hiring a real estate agent.
Realtors who are members of NAR have eight years of experience on average, according to the group. Still, some agents are likely to have more experience than others depending on your needs, such as working with first-time buyers, or doing deals in condos or co-ops.
2. Relevant Certifications
There are many real estate certifications offered by the NAR, which lead to designations including Accredited Buyer’s Representative (ABR) and Seller Representative Specialist (SRS).These indicate that the agent has pursued additional education and training. Senior citizens who are looking to sell or buy might benefit from working with a Seniors Real Estate Specialist (SRES).
3. Local Knowledge
An agent who knows the area can best advise on a sales price based on recent trends, such as whether prices have been edging up or down in recent months in your neighborhood. They can also help you narrow down neighborhoods based on your priorities, like being close to good schools or away from busy streets.
4. Marketing and Technical Skills
A listing agent needs to know how to create a strong first impression online because most people shop for homes virtually before they ever visit a property for sale. The photos, videos and descriptive writing need to stand out in the listing, which will get posted on multiple sites, such as the brokerage’s website and consumer-focused sites like Zillow or Redfin. As a buyer, you’ll want an agent who can find newly listed homes at least as quickly as you can, if not faster—and has the resources to find homes for sale that aren’t listed on traditional channels.
An agent who works full-time and isn’t overcommitted with other work is more likely to be available when you call or text, and can set up last-minute visits to homes as soon as they become available. When you interview agents, find out if they’re willing to dedicate enough time for your needs, whether it’s getting a home ready to sell and show on your timetable, or visiting several homes each week.
6. Level of Personal Attention
You’ll need to decide if you want to work with an individual agent or a team of two or more agents. Ideally, an agency team works collaboratively, so someone is always available when you need help. On the other hand, some people decide to work with an individual agent in order to build rapport with one person who is with them every step of the way.
7. Commitment and Contracts
When you hire a listing agent, you’ll sign a listing agreement that typically lasts two to six months. Commissions vary but are usually around 5% to 6% of the purchase price, with half of the amount going to the buyer’s agent. Listing agents may be willing to negotiate their commission.
It’s also important to be sure your agent is working in your best interest. In some cases, agents from the same brokerage wind up representing both the buyer and the seller in a transaction. For buyers, that could be a concern: is your agent working to get you the lowest price possible, or a higher commission?
As a seller, if you’re comfortable with this arrangement, you could ask for a reduced commission because it’s all going to the same brokerage.