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Choosing a Real Estate Agent

Not all real estate agents are created equal, just like not all lawyers or doctors are created equal. Each has his or her own work ethic, level of experience, dedication to the profession, moral code of ethics, and personality. You can do all the on-line research you want, but until you meet the agent in-person and ask questions, you will not be getting the full picture.

This is the advice I would give my son or daughter when choosing an agent:

  1. Do not hire an agent without personally interviewing a minimum of three.
  2. Do not hire someone unless you have received a personal referral.
  3. Do not pay any attention whatsoever to how many houses they sell a year. This would actually be the last of the criteria on my list! You want someone that is hungry and will work hard to earn your trust and respect. Not someone primarily concerned about how much they are going to make in commissions.
  4. Do not hire the agent that gives you the highest suggested listing price. That’s the oldest game in the book. Take a look at their prior listings and compare what they listed the house for compared to the ultimate selling price, and how long the property was on the market.
  5. Do not pay any attention to how fancy a car they drive. It is probably leased or financed through the roof.
  6. Do pay attention to how they dress, and speak to you, and follow up.
  7. Do pay attention to their jewelry. If the agent is showy about his or her bling, that tells me something about them, and not something necessarily positive. I would prefer a “blue collar,” hard working agent. Not one that spends a lot of money on jewelry and cars and thinks others should be impressed by it.
  8. Do not hire an agent that asks for a six month listing. The shorter the listing period, the better for you, and the higher your confidence level is going to be that this agent has the confidence that he or she can sell your house in a reasonable amount of time. Ninety days is more than reasonable. Six months is not reasonable.
  9. Definitely do not hire an agent to list your home who only handles sellers, and lets an associate or “team member” handle the buyers. That may be counter-intuitive, but it really means they don’t want to do any more work than they have to in order to get paid a handsome commission. In other words, they are only in this for the easy commissions. Buyers’ agents are the ones that work hard and earn their commissions. If the agent does not do both sides of the deal, or is going to hand it off to a “team member,” move on. Teams have their benefits, but are usually created by a tired agent that doesn’t want to handle buyers anymore because they are too much work, and you should count on dealing with the “team” rather than the agent you chose. Seriously. That’s the way it works. I’d choose the agent that is willing to work hard and is not just looking to cash-in by picking the low hanging fruit. No thanks.

The bottom line is that you want an honest, hard working agent, that is looking out for your best interests. There are lots of them out there, and they are not necessarily the “top producers,” and they are more than likely not the top money earners because the ones that are not making the big money often are that way because they are putting their clients first, and worrying about the commissions later.