When you’re trying to choose an agent to help sell your home you’re thinking about a good selling price, reasonable time frame and a fair commission rate. With so many agents out there vying for your listing, and so many market and industry factors to consider, making a decision can make you want to pull your hair out! No need to worry though, here’s all you need to know on how to find the right agent for you without going insane. Just take a deep breath, stay calm and follow the steps to the perfect agent for you.

Get a referral from a friend.

The easiest thing you can do when searching for an agent is ask around. Ask friends, family, co-workers, neighbors, etc., you never know who might have a good suggestion for you. A referral is great because you can trust the source better than a face-less review you can read online, and you can get the insider scoop. You won’t have exactly the same experience as anyone else but you can get a feel for an agent’s personality, their skill set and their accomplishments from your friend.

Do Some Preliminary Research.

You can start simple and search by city to find agents in your area. By focusing on agents in your city, you’ll find experts on the market in your corner of town – maybe even someone who knows your neighborhood like the back of their hand.  First Team has more than a dozen offices in Orange County alone and several more throughout Southern California, each equipped with experienced agents and the right tools to help you sell your home (that’s why we were voted #1 in Orange County!). Just search for a First Team office in your area and start learning more about the expert agents near you.  If you already have a predetermined laundry list of qualifications for an agent, try searching the National Association of Realtors site. Their search function allows you to be as specific as you want, whittling down your list of candidates based on specialties, certifications, designations and more.

Take Your Time Interviewing.

Once you’ve done your preliminary research and have a couple of candidates chosen, it’s time to conduct interviews. Interview at least 2 agents, preferably 3 so you can get a good comparison and view of what the competition can offer you. This will take a while, but that’s ok. Take your time so you can make the right decision; finding a good agent could end up saving you thousands of dollars and maybe even months of distress on the market.

  Questions to ask:

  1. What is your marketing strategy? If their marketing strategy doesn’t include any current technology or smart tools, be weary. The real estate market changes just like the rest of the world and you want an agent who learns and grows with it. 87% of buyers use the internet to search for homes so your agent’s strategy should include capturing that audience. Of course, a top notch agent will have a marketing strategy which includes both tech savvy tricks and tried and true classics.
  2. How will I be communicating with you? This question will help you decipher how busy the agent is and how much face time you can expect from them. Some agents have hundreds of listings and work with a team which you will be communicating through once you decide to work with them. It’s up to you if you want face time with your agent, phone calls periodically or if you’re fine just communicating though email; everyone’s preferences are different. Just make sure that your expectations and needs match those of the agent you hire.
  3. Do you have a specialty? Some agents specialize in selling condos and town homes while others are experts in foreclosures or short sales. Finding an agent whose specialization fits your particular situation is a big plus.
  4. How much can you sell my house for? Beware of estimates that seem too good to be true, because they probably are. This is why it’s good to interview 3 candidates; you can get a good ballpark idea and see what falls outside of it.
  5. What do you know about home loans? You want an agent who is also somewhat of a financial expert because it will be their job to help the buyer of your home qualify and navigate the financial waters. Selling homes isn’t just about open houses and staging, it’s about the paperwork and deals behind it all.
  6. Who will you be working for? Find out their “agency” relationships so you know whose financial interests they will ultimately be protecting (hint, it should be yours!). Some agents may insist on dual agency meaning they will represent you as well as the buyer of your home. This means they get the entire commission from both the sale and purchase instead of splitting it with another agent. An agent might also require you to work with a buyer’s agent from their brokerage firm. Your best bet is to find an agent who is first and foremost dedicated to you, as opposed to another client or an inflexible team. If they do have designated or dual agency however, you should be able to negotiate a lower commission.
  7. Be Blunt. Selling your home is a big deal. A lot of money is on the line and you need to make sure you’re smart and fully informed on all the important specifics of the process, so don’t be afraid to be blunt. Ask the tough questions, ask the dumb questions, heck even ask the questions you think you already know the answers to. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for a better answer if you don’t like the one they give or they need to be more specific.