Hiring the Right Real Estate Agent

Choosing a real estate agent when you're ready to buy or sell property can be one of the most important decisions you will make during the transaction. Your choice of a professional to represent you, whether as a seller's or buyer's agent, can sometimes spell the difference between a smooth transaction and one that is filled with problems.

The agents on each side of a real estate contract must balance a myriad of details while at the same time maintaining lines of communication and ensuring that all legal procedures are followed and all contract stipulations are met. Listing agents also must effectively market the property in a way that presents it to the greatest number of potential buyers.

If you have property to sell, in addition to discussing the specifics of an agent's experience in the field, ask about the price range of previous transactions, and the neighborhoods in which he or she specializes.

  • Discuss marketing materials, procedures and timing.
  • Ask if the agent pre-qualifies prospective buyers and how that is done.
  • Determine if the agent works with a core team, including mortgage lenders and insurers, appraisers, contractors and a real estate photographer.
  • Discuss holding open houses, special events, flyers and brochures.

You should also discuss the commission structure; while most agents work for a standard rate, it is not unusual, particularly in a hot market, for an agent to agree to a slightly lower listing commission to obtain your business. You do not want to agree to less service, though. A buyer's agent, likewise, might agree to a lesser commission.

Be aware that the commission structure for commercial property is often different.

Develop a rapport and a sense of trust with your real estate agent, whether you are selling or buying. Ask for information on comparable properties. Be certain that the listing price you set, or the offer you contemplate making, is based on market conditions and is in line with comparable properties. Be certain that your agent is aware of nearby properties on the market, including features, price and length of time on market.

Realize that the agent's expertise is the reason behind the fee you pay, and assure yourself that you enlist the help of the most experienced individual or team available.