What to Look for In a Real Estate Agent

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Considering how active the current real estate market is in the Lehigh Valley these days, it’s more important and critical than ever to have a real estate agent partner in your corner. You might be compelled to try to sell your home without a professional agent, but you run the risk of missing offer opportunities, overlooking best practices steps, or worse, not selling your house at all. Alternatively, trying to buy a home without an expert to guide your efforts, especially right now when the market is so volatile, could result in wasted time, overspending, or rushing into the wrong contract.

So, you know you need an agent professional to help. But there are so many Realtors, agents, and brokers out there, making it hard to know which person to trust your real estate transaction with for the best results. You can certainly ask around for referrals from friends and family. But you can also use this helpful guide to assist you in finding the right partnership for you. These are the key characteristics and questions to ask when shopping around for a real estate agent professional.

Real Estate Basics to Know First

Real estate professionals will have titles and credentials to represent their areas of expertise. A buyer’s agent will, of course, be helpful for anyone looking to buy, while the listing agent’s role is to help sell a property. However, there is more to know about titles and distinctions.

Real Estate Agent: This type of agent is licensed to help people sell, buy, or rent a variety of housing and real estate properties. 

Realtor: A Realtor is an agent who’s licensed as an agent but who also is a valid member of the National Association of Realtors, an organization that requires members to abide by additional standards and ethics in real estate transactions.

Broker: This type of agent has met the licensing requirements to be a real estate agent, but has also undergone continued education, usually in taxes, ethics, and contracts, and has also passed a broker’s exam. 

All of these qualified professionals can help you buy or sell a property. But it’s helpful to understand the distinctions as you vet potential professionals to partner with and consider credentials and experience.

Qualities of a Top Real Estate Agent Professional

Before you make the decision to work with anyone regarding your real estate journey, you need to find someone you like. You’ll need to find a local agent you can trust who has great communication skills and a genuine understanding of what your preferences are. Other qualities you’ll want to look for in a partner include these characteristics.

Problem-Solver: Buying or selling, you should prepare for challenges along the way. And you don’t want to face a tough transaction problem without someone representing you who’s an incredible problem-solver. Ask potential agent partners about their experiences with solving problems or issues.

Honest: No one wants to be “sold” on anything. And you don’t want to work with an agent who’s more concerned about commission than finding the perfect solution for your particular situation. Look for a professional who has a reputation for being honest and operating with integrity. You can check references and ask for referrals.

Hustle: Houses are coming into the market every day, and deals are closing just as fast. Right now, you’ll likely see several offers on a property at once. Whether you’re buying, investing, or selling, you need someone who knows how to hustle and has the tenacity to represent your best interests in a timely manner.

Interest in Real Estate: Now’s not the time to trust your friend’s cousin’s college roommate to help. There are plenty of agents out there who “dabble” in real estate as a side hustle. But to represent you in today’s market, you need someone who’s committed to the industry and has a vested interest in real estate. 

Detail-Oriented: With so many parties involved, so many steps to take, and all the forms required to see a real estate transaction to completion, you need a partner who is diligent about handling every detail and seeing around every corner. 

Local Market Knowledge: Nearly every real estate market is “hot” right now, but each neighborhood or region has its own volatility, meaning you need a local expert.

Experience with Similar Transactions: It’s not enough to verify how many houses an agent’s helped clients buy or sell. You’ll want to consider which professionals have experience with similar transactions as yours, including selling properties like yours, dealing with budgets like yours, and finding homes with the amenities you’re looking for right now.

Questions to Ask Before Working with a Real Estate Agent

Don’t rush into a working partnership with any agent until you’ve done your homework. Buying a house or selling your house will likely be the most significant transaction, cost, and timewise you’ll ever experience. Make sure you have a partner by asking these critical vetting questions.

How do you handle dual agent scenarios? Choosing an agent doesn’t necessarily mean they have an allegiance to you and you alone. In some scenarios, an agent will be a “dual agent,” meaning they’re working as both the buyer’s agent and the listing agent on the same property deal. This is more of a transactional arrangement without the agent working as a fiduciary to either party. 

Can you tell me about your experience helping clients like me? Ask for specifics about other clients who are similar to you in terms of buying preferences, budgets and financing, ideal market, and property amenities. You can then decide if the agent is experienced in the areas you need them to be knowledgeable.

Will I be working with you or your assistant? This is an important question to ask so you know what to expect when it comes to communication and follow-up. This can segue into asking about the best communication channels and how to get answers to your questions along the way. Additionally, it’s important to know if your agent is working alone or with a team. Last-minute showings or questions can often be delegated to someone else on the team, which can be helpful.

How do your commissions work? Understanding how the agent will be paid is a big question to ask upfront. The typical rate is 5%-8% of the sales price of the property in question. But you’ll want to have a transparent expectation of what the contractual payment will be. And in some cases, you might be able to negotiate those rates.

How many clients are you representing right now? This is a big question because you want to know about an agent’s availability. Obviously, a busy agent is a sign of a good agent. But you also don’t want to be on the back burner or wait days for a return phone call. Knowing how many other buyers and sellers the agent represents will be a good indicator of his or her availability for you.

If you’re thinking about venturing into the Lehigh Valley real estate market, either as a buyer or a seller, keep these tips and suggestions in mind before partnering with a real estate agent professional. And remember, too, that when you have questions about title work, closing, or title company services, New Door Property Transfer is ready to help!

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