What to look for in a real estate agent

Choosing a real estate agent is a big commitment. Buying or selling a home is the biggest transaction most people ever make - the right agent can make a huge difference in the outcome of that transaction.

So what should you look for when selecting an agent? Here’s a few things to keep in mind.

Consider experience

Few things are more important in a real estate agent than experience. An agent who’s negotiated lots of deals is familiar with the process, and can spot potential snags before they become dealbreakers. This familiarity also makes the process more efficient and speedy.

Impressed by a gung-ho young agent, but concerned by their lack of experience? Ask about the agency they work for. Do they have access to a broker or manager with solid experience to help them navigate the process? If so, you can be confident that they’ll represent you well.

Find someone with the right qualifications for your situation

Are you looking for your dream home in the country? Or are you more interested in a townhome in the heart of downtown? These situations are very different, and in many cases, call for different agents. An expert in rural real estate may not be best equipped to operate in a city market, and vice versa.

When choosing your agent, be sure to ask them if their experience aligns with the situation you’re in.

Ask about the agent’s workload and fees

An agent with a million clients and a waiting list may seem attractive, but if they send you to voicemail when you call with a question, are they really all that valuable? On the other hand, an agent with no clients might have none for a reason.

Be sure that your agent will pick up the phone. You might try calling them out of the blue one day while you’re still considering. Do they answer? If not, do they return your call promptly? When you’re choosing an agent for a big transaction like a home purchase or sale, you want to be sure that person is accessible.

Finally, be sure to ask about standard fees up front. It’s probably not wise to look for the bargain-basement option in an important transaction, but be sure the agent’s fee isn’t twice what others in the market are asking.