Buyers and Sellers: How to Hire a Real Estate Agent
Updated: Apr 10
Real estate agents are a dime a dozen, right? While it’s true that buyer’s agents and seller’s agents are in no short supply, a good real estate agent is something to appreciate. So how do you know if they’re good, and—even better—how do you know if they’re good for you?
Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to separate outstanding real estate agents from the rest. And it’s easy to determine whether they’re a fit for you.
First, let’s start with the broader question: Is this real estate agent any good, period?
Check Online Reviews
Buying or selling a home is one of the biggest financial investments you’ll make. Don’t go into it blind! Luckily, you have a little thing called the World Wide Web to help steer you in the right direction.
Even if you used Google to find some promising real estate agents, go a step further and Google each agent’s name, along with words like “review” or “rating.” Google, Yelp, and real estate listing websites also publish online reviews on buyer’s agents and seller’s agents.
Be sure to read both the good reviews and the bad ones (you can usually sort reviews by rating).
Beyond whether the agent was friendly or not, you want to get a sense of how knowledgeable they were, how quickly they communicated, whether this real estate agent works directly with most clients or passes them off to assistants and other agents, and how they handled any problems that arose during the homebuying process and throughout the real estate transaction.
Review Their Social Media Accounts
A good real estate agent’s social media pages should be free of errors like typos, poor grammar, and problematic punctuation. Beyond that, these channels shouldn’t contain any promises that you know they can’t keep (e.g., “Just hire me and watch the bidding wars begin!” or “I guarantee you’ll pay way below listing price if you go with me!”).
Don’t just look at their posts, however. Look at how many followers they have, as well as how they respond to any comments. Is the real estate agent welcoming? Do they answer any questions posed? How do they handle remarks or suggestions (of both the positive and negative varieties)?
Many real estate agents use these channels to position themselves as experts in the real estate market. For this reason, you want to review the information they’re providing. Is it accurate? Are their links from credible sources, or do they direct you to news sites you’ve never heard of?
Finally, it’s great if a real estate agent adds some personal touches to their social media channels—maybe a little about their family, hobbies, or background. But it could be a red flag if the page gets too personal. Passive-aggressive posts and or negativity could be a sign to run for the hills!
Ask Friends and Family for Referrals
Who better to trust than your friends and family?
If you know someone who has recently bought or sold a house, ask them how their experience was.
Would they recommend their agent? What did they like about them? What didn’t they like? Did any surprises pop up, and if so how did the real estate agent handle them?
Don’t forget that your friends and family may know a great realtor even if they haven’t bought or sold a home recently. You never know whose neighbor, carpool mate, bridge partner—you name it—may be a successful realtor or have a close connection to one.
Now let’s get a bit more granular. You’ve already found a few candidates, thanks to the strategies above, and it’s come down to who’s the best fit for you.
That’s an easy one …
It’s a novel approach, we know, but before you hire a real estate agent, you should actually ask them a few questions.
If you’re a first-time homebuyer, then you want a buyer’s agent who’s a pro at showing newbies the ropes. If you’re going to be selling your home, then you want someone who can walk in, see the value of your home, and identify what should be highlighted and what may need to be repaired.
You also want an agent who specializes in your neighborhood. That means in your desired neighborhood if you need a buyer’s agent and in your current neighborhood if you’re looking to sell your home.
Ask for some references, and give them a call. Ask the same questions you would if a family member had referred a real estate agent.
From there, it’s a matter of preference and comfort. It’s a good idea to drop in on one of their open houses if possible to see how they interact with interested buyers.
Pay close attention to how the agent responds to your requests and questions. You want someone who provides quick, concise, and honest answers … not someone whose out-of-office is always up or who has an assistant constantly apologizing for a delayed response.
The business relationship you have with a real estate agent is a serious one—one that requires some time and attention.
If you need further help with this, APM is always happy to recommend a few trusted agents our loan officers have worked with time and time again. Just give us a call. We’re always here for you.