The best real estate agents are tenacious, humble, creative, and honest. It is easy to fill this list out with a hundred different skills and qualifications, but at the end of the day, if your real estate agent has the required licensing they can get the job done. What separates the good from the bad is how trustworthy they are and how well tailored their experience is for your unique needs.
If an agent can answer the following questions in depth without skirting details or trying to overload you with jargon, it’s a good sign they know what they are doing and can be trusted. If not, keep looking.
Initial Screening Questions
“Do you, and will you, have enough time to work with me?”
Don’t be afraid to directly ask how many clients your prospective agent is working with. If an agent has so much business that they can’t dedicate time to you, they are not worth working with. If they do have a high number of clients, ask how they plan on balancing all of their clients without anyone being left to the wayside.
“What is your sellers-to-buyers ratio?”
Whether you are buying or selling, you want your agent to understand how things look from the other side of the table. You cannot be a shrewd buyer without insight into the seller’s perspective, and you cannot provide an attractive deal as a seller without understanding what is important to the buyer.
“Do you work with a team?”
If your agent works with a team, will you have a single point of contact with the entire team? Will you only be working with one member of the team and no one else? You should not be left in a situation where you expect to meet with one agent, only to find you are being passed around to a different person at each step.
“How do you communicate?”
Make sure that you and your agent are on the same page with communication. If you are most comfortable with email updates, specifically state that. Establish how frequently you will be in contact with one another, and under what circumstances you will be in contact.
Who to Trust
Having sorted through your prospective real estate agent’s company structure and experience, try to decide if you will trust them by paying particular attention to the four traits we first mentioned.
In part, real estate is a numbers game. The more emails your agent attends to, the more phone calls made, and the more networking done, the more likely your agent will land the right deal. After a week of a few hundred calls per day, however, it quickly becomes a very depressing business. To determine whether prospective agents will stick it out, don't be afraid to ask for references from them. Learn from those whom they have worked with in the past just how tenacious they really are.
Anyone who thinks the business is in the palm of their hand is bound to fall — hard. New agents often appear cocky, thinking they are perfectly prepared with every new strategy the industry has to offer, while seasoned vets can become equally headstrong with the stubbornness of doing things how they’ve always been done.
Humility demonstrates a willingness to learn. A new, recently certified agent with a willingness to learn and grow is far more likely to succeed than the competitor next door who thinks he knows it all. The same goes for industry vets.
How creative is your agent with marketing? This doesn’t mean just using social media, but also includes TV, radio, newspaper ads, and more in unique ways that will catch the attention of potential buyers. The standard advertising methods are not enough. Ask your potential real estate agents how they like to attract eyes to the properties they’re selling.
Is this a person you can trust? Check online reviews of the agent you are considering, ask the agent for references, and follow up with the contacts provided. A dishonest agent can sink any deal for both the seller and the buyer.
Make a Deal
Finding a great real estate agent won’t happen on its own. If you want one you can trust with buying your next property or selling your previous home, it is going to take work. With an eye for the right traits and a few sound screening questions, however, you can rest assured that you will move steadily through the process.