Many factors contribute to the experience and success of buying and selling homes, but even in the digital age of a more transparent real estate market, working with a good real estate agent continues to be one of biggest impacts on either side of the transaction.

But how do you pick the right person to represent you or your home?

Before you just start asking your friends or digging through the fliers in your mailbox or hunting online, here are a few dos and dont’s you should seriously consider when selecting an agent.

Do:

  • Ask people you trust for agent recommendations, but take what they say with a grain of salt. Did they recently buy a home in your same price range?  Have they had a successful time selling their home? Just because this agent worked out well for them does not guarantee the same experience for you.
  • Research. Most real estate websites, including Zillow, have online agent reviews. This can be a good starting place.
  • Find an agent that specializes in what you’re trying to do. Don’t select an agent who sells $2 million homes to help you find a $200,000 home. Check out current home listings. Do you like the photos, the description? Try contacting the agent to see if they’re available for you.
  • Interview the agent. What is their specific marketing plan for your home? How will they negotiate so that you can be the winning bidder on your dream home? Why are they the best option for you? Can you call some of their past clients?
  • Set up expectations. What do you want from them? Outline your needs from the get-go so there won’t be any surprises down the road.
  • Make sure you get along with the agent. You don’t need to be best friends, but ultimately there should be some sort of rapport that allows for a successful business relationship.

Don’t:

  • Pick friends or family. You don’t want to jeopardize a friendship if the buying or selling process gets difficult. Also, be wary of hiring even a friend of a friend, or someone recommended. If you’re serious about real estate, find someone that you can be honest and professional with. Unfortunately, that may not include your cousin or your best friend’s spouse.
  • Pick someone who dually represents the buyer and the seller of the property you’re looking at. They may not be able to fully transparent with you.
  • Be afraid to break up with your agent. Be honest and simply tell the agent it’s not working out. List your reasons and be respectful.
  • If you’re not quite ready to be tied down to a particular agent, it’s better not to engage one until you’ve made a formal decision. You can communicate with an agent and ask for advice, but be clear upfront where you stand.

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