The insider secrets to finding the best real estate agent for you

When you get into the Real Estate Market rather buying or selling a house, to be successful you will require the services of real estate agent. However, very few know the real secrets to choosing a realtor that is well suited to the project you are working on.

The secrets of how to choose a good realtor are 90% common sense and 10% application. However, if this is your first rodeo, you are likely at a complete loss as to what your needs are or will in the near future. That’s why you need a tried and true method for contacting, identifying and verifying the true facts about any realtor to make sure you are getting someone who is well suited to your current project.

How to pick a realtor…

In this field, you will find what they call Realtors, as well as real estate agents. Some are part-time some are full-time agents. You may discover family friends who are in real estate, you could even find out your next door neighbor is an agent. So how do you find out which one is right for you?

Missouri residents Kevin and Carrie Smith contacted a convenient real estate connection after finding their perfect home. “We had a family friend who is a part-time real estate agent,” Kevin stated. “She showed us the house and we submitted an offer. That's when the trouble started.”

Mr. Smith came to find out that the agent for the seller was “ready to go to war for her clients.” A seasoned negotiator she was a real shark. The Smiths part-time agent was intimidated instantly. After only one call with ‘the shark’ about price, “our agent was scared to negotiate.”

A tough lesson learned. He says he’ll look for a top-shelf professional agent, one who’s not afraid of anything and whose focus is on getting a great deal for their clients not just closing the deal as fast as possible.

Home sellers need the right agent. There is no longer such a thing as a real estate broker who simply places a sign in the yard, enters it into the Multiple Listing Service and sits around waiting for it to sell.

A good seller's agent is always searching for a proactive, technology-based system. Your photos must be professional and that means magazine quality, as well as the description which has to be detailed and really sizzle.

Another great article to help in this search is:

It’s advised that you find an agent who has some social-media marketing muscle. The bottom line is in today's market its a Facebook World and if your agent is not well versed in navigating Facebook for prospects, you are behind the 8 ball already.

The right realtor for homebuyers

When looking for an agent to sell your home, the number 1 attribute is a buyer’s agent with a solid track record of closing deals.

If stats reveal that the average agent sold only four homes last year, you are purchasing a home you represent 25% of that agent’s yearly income. From that perspective do you think they have your best interest at heart, or are they ready to do about anything to close this deal?

A run of the mill buyer’s agent will search the MLS for homes, but when you got a really great agent, he will hunt down homes that aren’t even on the market yet. They’ll start by contacting homeowners in the prospected neighborhood or produce a direct mail campaign in your desired area with specifics on you and your family.

How to define the difference between Realtors and real estate agents

This can get a little complex but just because someone is a real estate agent, it doesn’t mean they are a Realtor. The National Association of Realtors owns the registered trademark for the term Realtor. NAR members pledge to follow a strict set of guidelines set by the code of ethics of the association. State and Federal laws assure that similar ethical standards are enforced whether you deal with a Realtor or a real estate agent.

Agent interviews - you gotta do your due diligence

The standard rule of thumb recommended by the professionals is for buyers and sellers to interview no less than three agents. Truth is most people are one and done. Here are a few special tips:

•Always ask an agent for a list of recent references.

•Ask the agent you’re considering what plan they have in place to help you find the perfect home (for buyers) or market your home (for sellers)

•VERY IMPORTANT: Note how an agent responds to your inquiry. If a prospective agent answers your initial request promptly giving a thorough and complete response, that is likely the type service you’ll receive throughout your dealings with them.

•Ask for a list of their recent sales, not just a number of sales or overall volume.

Working with an agent needs to be an ebb and flow process. For tips on how to do this effectively see:

The Agent Interview: The 10 must ask questions when searching for a real estate agent

Today there are over 2 million real estate agents in the U.S. alone. If you are a brand new home seller or buyer, you have certain needs that must be properly met by the agent you choose. If you choose the wrong one, it could literally be a mistake that costs you THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS.

So far we have discussed important ways to discern the proper agent. These top 10 must ask questions will be the key to making sure you get the agent you need.

You can ask friends and family for referrals for a start. If you find a name that keeps coming up, that would be a good place to begin. Once you narrowed it down to 3 to 5 names, call the agents and set up a time to interview the agent using these 10 questions.

#1 How long have you been selling real estate?

Experience matters, sometimes a lot. It may be true that it doesn’t equal success but real estate is a commission-based business and any agent surviving over time cannot be providing shoddy service. An experienced agent is much less likely to be rattled by any oddball situations that may occur.

#2 Are you equipped to handle my unique situation?

Think about what defines who you are to an agent: a long-term investor, a first-time homebuyer, house flipper, or just selling an estate? There are many unique scenarios that you may find yourself and you need an agent with experience in the area that defines you. If you interview a know it all who says, “Don’t worry, I’ve dealt with this before.” Ask the agent what unique issues could arise and how she would handle them.

#3 What area do you cover?

There are agents who are neighborhood experts and others who will travel halfway across the country to find you the perfect home. In most instances, someone in the middle is your best bet. Agents can get a better understanding of a larger territory now than ever before because of the internet, but it's impossible to cover an entire state while maintaining an intimate knowledge of local markets. When you have a “neighborhood expert," they can try to fit you into a shoe that doesn’t fit. Find and an agent that works both in and around your ideal area.

#4 Are you part of a team?

Obviously, there are many benefits to working with a real estate team, but you must clarify your relationship with the other team member right at the start. Within a team, some members have a more intimate knowledge of specific situations than another. You must define - upfront - however, if the team plans for you to work with one agent the duration of the transaction, or if all of them will be available should the need arise. Truth is you need to work with numerous agents, but you also do not need to be passed around at every step along the way.

#5 Can I have the contact information for three references?

Past clients will always be your best gauge as to the level of customer service provided by the agent. Take what they say with a grain of salt because the people given to you are going to be the best of the best, however, ask very specific, open-end questions based on your priorities

#6 What is your ratio of buyers to sellers?

Many agents tend to work with primarily buyers or sellers. Most teams have designated buyer agents and listing agents. This can lead to a limited perspective on the part of your agent. If your agent has only worked with buyers, how can they have any real world idea what is happening from the seller's perspective? Truth is you be looking to sell your current house and buy another, so the transactions will be much more seamless if one agent is able to oversee the entire process.

#7 What is your average number of clients?

The bottom line is this: do you, and will you, have enough time to give me top-flight service? You do not need an agent who is always busy with another client and unable to give you their undivided attention. If you choose an agent with a high volume of clients, you need to ask about what might happen should you need extra time/attention on your deal. Are their other team members that can help out? Is the licensed assistant available to offer advice?

#8 What type of communication should I expect from you?

By this point in the interview, you should already notice if you and the agent understand each other well. This is where you both set expectations for how often you should be updated, who needs to be in the loop and the best way to communicate long term. You, as the client should pick what makes you the most comfortable.

#9 Do you have a recommended vendors list?

Any experienced agent has trusted relationships with industry professionals that they use on a regular basis. Starting with mortgage lenders and title companies to independent contractors and inspectors, your agent needs to be able to refer you to multiple sources so you figure the one best suited to you. These are recommendations for you. You have the right to choose who you work with via the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act.

#10 What questions do you have for me?

Believe it or not, this is the most important question you will ask. The questions one asks defines their true state of mind. This is where the great agents shine. An excellent indicator of client-centered service, for which there is no substitute is if they take the time to get to know you and your priorities, wants and needs from this transaction.

Armed with these tips and the Top 10 must ask questions you are assured to find the best agent for your needs.