How to Choose a Realtor: Expert Secrets

How to choose a realtor
Choosing a realtor is one of the most important fiscal decisions you ’ ll always make. While most people commit to the beginning substantial estate agentive role they interview, we recommend comparing several options to find the best fit for you .
You can get started by pre-screening real estate agents on-line, focusing on a few key pieces of information .
If you don ’ t have a good short-list of agents to choose from so far, we recommend using an agent matching avail like Clever Real Estate to get matched up quickly with top local anesthetic agents. Clever besides pre-negotiates lower fees with local anesthetic agents to save you money .
once you ’ ve got a few good options to compare, it ’ mho clock to set up some interviews to compare and choose the right agent for you. We lay out the process for you below.

👉 Sections: How to choose a list agent | How to choose a buyer ’ second agent | Realtor red flags | Choosing for your situation | FAQs

🤝Why you should trust us Our mission is to provide accurate, actionable, and practical information you can use to make better decisions on your real estate travel. To create this scout, we interviewed realtors, real estate investors, and experienced home buyers and sellers to find out how to choose the best very estate agent .
We besides poured over hours of training videos from major brokerages like Coldwell Banker and Keller Williams to learn more about how top agents are trained to interact with potential customers in the field .

About the authors

Steve Nicastro is a substantial estate agent and investor based in Charleston, South Carolina. While working as a full-time agent between 2020-21, Steve closed 19 transactions totaling $ 6 million in bulk, helping both buyers and sellers .
During his time as a full-time agent, Steve shadowed respective top-producing agents in the Charleston, S.C. grocery store, learning the ins-and-outs of the clientele – including how home buyers and sellers choose which realtor to work with .
Andrew Whytock contributed to this article. Andrew spent hours interviewing realtors, real estate investors, and experienced home buyers and sellers to find out how to choose the best substantial estate agent. He ’ mho written dozens of other guides to educate homeowners .

How to choose a realtor: An overview

It ’ randomness ache to vet agents on-line before setting up your initial interviews. here ’ s how to screen agents fast and easy .

1. Read reviews from past clients

on-line reviews can help you identify regretful real estate agents pretty debauched. search for past customer reviews on sites like Zillow, Trulia, and Google .
Agents with few or no review is a crimson flag, as it shows the agent is either brand-new, unproved, or lacking an on-line presence .
It ’ randomness normal for agents to have at least a few poor reviews from disgruntled customers, but a form of minus feedback is more refer .
here are some coarse negative comments to watch out for :

  • The client felt blackmail to sign a list agreement or buyer ’ second representation agreement .
  • The agentive role rushed a buyer to put in an offer on a theater .
  • The agent took excessively hanker to sell a house, or pushed the customer to take a low propose .
  • A miss of campaign or hustle from the agent .
  • The agent was unresponsive or boring to respond to the node ’ mho calls and text .
  • The agent was abortive in condense negotiations .

Note: Agent match services like Clever do this work for you, weeding through ailing reviewed agents and matching you up with the best ones in your marketplace .
💰 Find top rated local agents with Clever !

2. Determine full-time or part-time status

Homebuyers and sellers deserve to work with a dedicated, full-time realtor. Vetting bring status is crafty, as most part-time agents probably won ’ metric ton admit it. here ’ s how to do it .
Check the agent’s sale activity on Zillow. Closing at least 10 sales in the past year shows the agent is active and likely not working real number estate as a side hustle .
Try to contact the agent during business hours. An agent that is unresponsive from 9 ante meridiem to 5 post meridiem might be out working another occupation .
Scan through social media accounts. full-time agents are more probably to have active social media accounts than part-timers .
You can gauge an agent ’ s on-line presence by searching their Facebook and Instagram pages ( 1-2 posts per week shows they are active ) .

3. Search for recent experience

late function experience is desirable in a constantly changing veridical estate market .
View each agent ’ s Zillow or Trulia profile to search for recent sales data, which should reveal how many buyers and sellers they ’ ve recently helped .

How to find an agent’s transaction history on Zillow

  1. Find the agent’s profile using Zillow’s agent finder tool
  2. Scroll down to “Sold” on the agent’s profile. Here’s you’ll find addresses, sold date, closing price, and who the agent represented in the deal (the buyer or seller).
  3. Click on the individual listings to learn more about the transaction, including when the house was listed and how long it took to sell.

You can besides look up their very estate license to see when it was issued ( showing you how long they ’ ve been a accredited agent ) .
Aim to interview agents with at least 2 years of experience, at least a 1-2 close deals within the past calendar month, and your type of transaction ( buying or selling ) .

4. Check for local sales

It ’ mho best to work with realtors who has closed at least a few sales in your zip code code within the past 1-2 months .
Agents working primarily in your area know how to accurately value homes, and likely have a strong net of contractors, inspectors, and appraisers to help you stopping point .
Zillow is a capital resource for checking local sales. An agent ’ s Zillow profile reveals their most holocene sales on a Google map and in textbook, and includes the full addresses .

🤔Should you search for realtors or real estate agents?

The terminus realtor is much used interchangeably with real estate of the realm agent, which can create confusion with home plate buyers and sellers .
A realtor is a terminus used to describe an agentive role who is a member of the National Association of Realtors ( NAR ), while a veridical estate agent is any person licensed to help people buy or sell real number estate of the realm ( but not a NAR member ) .
here ’ s the bottom line : Realtors ( NAR members ) are bound by the NAR Code of Ethics, but they aren ’ metric ton necessarily better at their jobs than non-member agents. What matters most is the quality of the agent you choose to work with .
» MORE: Realtor vs. Real Estate Agent

How to choose the right listing agent

1. Set up listing presentations

Why it matters: To test the agent ’ south personality, responsiveness, and communication skills before you commit to meet and sign with them .
How to do it: Get the agent ’ s issue and call them to test their responsiveness. Try text or e-mail if they don ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate answer your visit ( some agents use those methods more frequently ) .
good agents aren ’ metric ton always available right away, but any agent who wants your business will get back to you within 24 hours, unless they provide a good argue, like a personal emergency .

2. Meet with the agent at your house

Why it matters: To vet the agents experience, skills, and real estate cognition. The agent provides a commercialize update, a home valuation report and net sheet, and reviews the list agreement .
How to do it: Most agents will be thrilled to meet with you if you ask them to. Follow up ahead to confirm your meeting, and give them a heads up if your plans change .
The agent should show up train with home sale information, provide you with a CMA report and a net sail, and show you photos and videos from their current listings .
🤓 Expert tip: Get a seller net plane from each agent who you consultation. It lays out your calculate net net income from the home sale after factoring in all sale expenses .
If one of the seller net sheets you receive has a way higher or lower number than the others, it could mean the agent over or dump your home, or doesn ’ thymine understand local selling costs .

❓5 questions to ask during your agent interview 1. What are homes selling for in my neighborhood ? Ask if your home is comparable to late home sales.
2. How fast are homes selling ? Learn a reasonable timeframe to get offers and go under compress on a new list in your area.
3. Are there any homes like mine for sale ? active listings are your rival, indeed ask the agent how they plan to attract buyers to your house.
4. How firm have your past three listings sold ? Request data which shows how the agent ’ sulfur late performance compares to the typical agent in your area.
5. How will you beat the contest ? Learn the agent ’ mho marketing strategy for your house .

3. Follow-up with the agent

Why it matters: The post-meeting call call is another opportunity to test the agent ’ randomness responsiveness and communication skills, and to see if they ’ re truly unplayful about helping you .
How to do it: Call, text, or email the agent a day after your initial meet. See if they answer right away, or take long to respond .
For exemplar, text and say, “ Hi John, thanks for converge with me yesterday. I was just wondering about [ blank ] based on the conversation that we had about selling my house. ”
A immediate, personal answer is a firm reading the agent will be available when you need them during the sell process .
If the agent takes days to get back to you, or delegates the reception to person else, they probably won ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate be a estimable fit as it shows they aren ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate committed to helping you .

4. Review the listing agreement

Why it matters: The list agreement is normally 10 to 20 pages long and outlines all of your responsibilities, the duties your agent owes to you, your family ’ sulfur initial list price, and when it ’ ll go live .
Signing it is a bad deal, as it kicks off the home selling summons and authorizes the agent to work for you .
What listing agreements should include :

  • The length of the agreement (usually 3 to 6 months).
  • The agent’s commission rate.
  • What you agree to pay the buyer’s agent.
  • The agent’s cancellation policy, if you decide to part ways with the agent. 
  • How buyer’s will gain access to your house for showings. 
  • What services are included in the listing (photos, videos, listing on the MLS).

How to do it: Have agents walk you through the list agreement at your initial meet or follow-up call call. If anything is ill-defined, have a real number estate lawyer serve you review it before signing .

5. Take next steps

even undecided on agents ? here are some possible next steps .

  • Find more agents to interview if you’re unhappy with your picks. Agent matching services like Clever can connect you to multiple local agents while also potentially saving you thousands on realtor fees.
  • Check agent’s real estate license, which should be active and in good-standing. 
  • Re-read the listing agreement carefully, learn more about an exclusive right to sell listing agreement, or call an attorney for more help.
  • Ask each agent for the contact info. of 3-5 past seller clients for reference checks.
  • Call 1-2 clients from your list for further vetting (a random selection prevents agents from cherry picking references and you getting a biased perspective).
  • Sign the listing agreement, if comfortable, or consider interviewing other agents. 

How to choose the right buyer’s agent

Most home buyers ( 73 % ) hire the first agent they interview, which isn ’ t the best approach.4Source : National Association of REALTORS. ( 2021, March ). 2021 Home Buyers and Sellers Generation Trends Report. hypertext transfer protocol : // We recommended interviewing multiple agents.

Comparing buyer ’ s agents is easy because there ’ south normally more flexibility with contracts than there is with listing agents. You might not have to sign a buyer ’ second means agreement until you ’ re fix to submit an put up on a home. Take entire advantage of this by touring homes with a few buyer ’ sulfur agents before you commit to one .
A good buyer ’ sulfur agent doesn ’ t want to waste fourth dimension — they ’ ll vet you as you ’ rhenium vetting them by asking questions like :

  • Have you spoken to a lender or gotten pre-approved for financing yet?
  • What neighborhoods are you interested in?
  • Do you need to sell your current home, or are you renting?

Be prepared to answer these questions before you start touring homes if you want to convince the buyer ’ second agent you ’ rhenium serious and get their broad care .

✍🏼 Get pre-approved foremost ! mortgage pre-approval international relations and security network ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate constantly required before you start working with a buyer ’ sulfur agent, but it can be helpful because it signals to agents that you ’ re a serious buyer who has access to finance and international relations and security network ’ metric ton consume time. Pre-approval besides gives the agent more information to work with — they ’ ll know precisely how much house you can afford .

1. Set up interviews

Why it matters: The initial telephone call is a good opportunity to test the agent ’ sulfur responsiveness, discuss your goals as a home buyer, get pre-approved with a lender, lecture through the home buy process, and savoir-faire any of your concerns .
How to do it: Call your clear picks to set up in-person or Zoom appointments. You can ask any questions about the home buy process, and learn about their skills, experience, and cognition .

5 questions to ask a buyer’s agent before your meeting

  1. Do you primarily work with buyers or sellers, too? Ask for recent sales data to learn how many buyers and sellers the agent has worked with. 
  2. Have you helped buyers in my desired neighborhoods? You need an agent who really knows your area well.
  3. What is your typical price range? Aim to work with agents who help buyers in your budget. 
  4. How do you help buyers compete in the current market? It’s a strong seller’s market in most areas, and you need every advantage you can get. 
  5. Can you walk me through the homebuying process? See if the agent will take the time to walk you through the buying process – it shows they want to help you.

2. Meet and set up home showings

Why it matters: The agent enters your buy criteria into the multiple list service ( MLS ), the organization realtors use to send homes to buyers. If you like what you see, you can ask the agent to set up showings .
If you tour houses and red flags are flying – like if the agent is pushful and impatient, and insists you put an volunteer in on a house ASAP – you might want to find a new agentive role .
An agent who ’ mho only focused on getting paid will sugarcoat every tour and promise that you make an crack. An have agent will identify issues, focus on what matters to you as a buyer, and quickly answer any questions about the property .
The buyer ’ mho agent should use the go as an opportunity to learn more about your likes and dislikes. If you don ’ thyroxine like the home after you see it, the agent should try to find out why therefore they can help you find something better.

How to do it: Most buyer ’ mho agents will be felicitous to meet with you, set you up with a home search and prove you homes if you ask them excessively .
There ’ s no risk in meeting with an agent, other than potentially spending a few hours with them and finding out they aren ’ t the right equip .
»JUMP: 5 traits to look for in a realtor

3. Pick an agent and sign an agreement

Why it matters: Signing a buyer ’ sulfur agency agreement means you agree to work entirely with the agentive role for a certain period of fourth dimension, while the agentive role agrees to represent you and your best interests .
How to do it: You can either read and sign a buyer ’ s agency agreement in person, or via an electronic agreement like DocuSign .

STOP: Read the fine print!
Most buyer ’ s agency agreements are exclusive, which means you ’ ll be locked into using the agent to purchase a home. There might be a way to get out of the contract without a tip, but it depends on what the agreement says .
If you ’ re not fix to commit even, ask them for a few references from past clients, and give them a call. If the agent very wants your clientele, they won ’ thymine bang you into signing a buyer ’ randomness agency agreement. alternatively, they ’ ll earn your business through their hard bring and earning your trust .

🚩 5 realtor red flags to watch out for

Whether you ’ re looking for a buyer ’ second or seller ’ mho agent, here are some realtor warning signs to watch out for .

 1. They rush or pressure you 

There ’ s nothing worse than working with a realtor who rushes or pressures you into making a decision when you ’ re not quick, fair so they can get paid faster .
here are some electric potential bolshevik flag situations to watch out for :

  • The agent insists that you sign a buyer’s agency agreement or a listing agreement ASAP in order to move forward with the relationship. 
  • The agent shows you homes that don’t fit in your budget and pressures you to put in an offer when you’re not ready, or insists you accept an offer on your house.
  • They push you to sign an offer without you fully understanding its terms and conditions. 
  • The agent shrugs off major concerns discovered by a home inspector or appraiser.

thankfully, you can normally tell if an agent will be affected role with you at your initial meet .

2. They’re unresponsive

avoid agents who don ’ triiodothyronine answer or react to your calls, text, or emails within a reasonable prison term frame ( 24 hours soap ) .
Responsiveness is ace important in the fast-moving populace of veridical estate of the realm. picture these likely nightmare scenarios when working with an unresponsiveness agent :
Sellers: You receive a bang-up offer on a home, but the offer carries an exhalation date of 24 hours – sol you need to act fast. You call your agent to accept the propose before death, but they can ’ triiodothyronine be reached, and it expires .
Buyers: You find the home of your dreams online, but you need to rush out to see it ASAP before other buyers do. You call your agentive role to book a prove, but they don ’ thyroxine answer until the future day ( and you lose out on the house ) .

3. They lack integrity 

naturally, you want to work with a master – not person who comes off as a bum, untrustworthy salesman .
here are some potential signs of a dishonest real estate of the realm agentive role :

  • They insist that their commission rate is non-negotiable (it usually is), or they hide extra fees from you. 
  • Their commission rate seems high, and they can’t explain what it covers. 
  • They make bold, unsubstantiated claims, like “I sold 100 homes last year!” or “I just closed 3 deals in that neighborhood last week!” Ask them to verify the data. 
  • They badmouth other agents, which is not only unprofessional, but could violate state laws and cause you problems during contract negotiations. 

keep off agents that throw off any of these red flags !

4. They don’t understand your market

real estate of the realm is local anesthetic, and that ’ s why it ’ sulfur ace authoritative to hire an agent who in truth knows your market. Try asking them specific vicinity questions to see how they respond .
here are some good questions to ask :

  • How much are home prices rising in my neighborhood?
  • How many active listings are there in my zip code? 
  • What are the current months of inventory? 
  • What type of home buyers might be most interested in my home? 

Buyers agent should besides know your neighborhood like the binding of their hand, pointing out late region developments, such as modern schools and businesses moving in .

5. They’re too commission-driven

avoid realtors who suffer from “ commission breath, ” making every conversation about them and their paycheck, rather of on you and your needs .
here are some warning signs :

  • The agent brings up their commission rate in your initial conversation instead of asking you about your goals as a seller or buyer. 
  • They push you into making offers on homes that aren’t a good fit – or pressure you to accept an offer on your home that you’re not satisfied with. 
  • They’re overly positive during showings, saying things like “this home has everything!” or use phrases like “if you sleep on it, you might not sleep in it.”
  • They ask you to list your home below what you’re comfortable listing at. Some agents would rather list too low than too high just to get a faster paycheck.

The agent should focus more on making you glad as a client. That ’ s how they ’ ll earn their paycheck and potentially your reprise commercial enterprise or referrals .

Traits to look for in a realtor

here are some important realtor traits or skills to gauge your initial phone call and interviews .

 1. Good personality

top agents are friendly and colloquial. But they besides take the time to learn about your particular needs, and authentically care about helping you achieve your goals .
A good smell of humor is a major bonus. Laughter takes off the atmospheric pressure if things get tense at any period in the transaction ( like in contract negotiations ) .

 2. Strong communicator

communication skills are crucial in real estate of the realm, specially when showing your sign of the zodiac to prospective buyers and negotiating with early agents .
You can tell a realtor is a potent communicator is they do the pursuit :

  • Ask for your preferred method of communication (call, text, or email) during your initial call or interview. 
  • Focus on your conversation, not on other work calls, texts, or emails. 
  • Listen more than they speak, and learn about your situation and goals instead of focusing on themselves. 
  • Share real stories and experiences from their time as a realtor.
  • Communicate proactively, and point out possible roadblocks ahead of time. 

dear agents normally follow-up with you after your initial call call or interview, to see if you have any other questions or concerns .

3. Real estate knowledge 

Knowledge is what sets some real estate agents apart from the carry. Informed, experienced agents are worth their deputation for respective reasons. here ’ randomness why :

For buyers

  • Knowledgable agents can walk first-time home buyers through the process from start-to-finish. 
  • They know how to structure offers to help buyer clients win their dream house in a highly competitive seller’s market. 
  • They understand all of the forms, disclosures, and legal documents required in order to close on a home. 
  • They’re a great source of local information and can answer any questions related to utilities, zoning rules, and homeowner’s association fees. 

For sellers

  • They help you prepare your home for sale, explain how the home sale process works, and point out potential roadblocks. 
  • They’re experts at completing comparative market analysis (CMA) reports to accurately price your home, and can provide you with a seller net sheet.  
  • They know how to effectively market your home to buyers in order to achieve your real estate goals. 
  • They use their experience and knowledge to negotiate contracts with buyers. 

How can you tell if a very estate agent knows their stuff ? They can answer all of your questions, and back up their advice with real-life stories ( inexperienced agents will struggle to come up with answers ) .
🔍 Need an agentive role ? Clever can match you up with intimate local realtors

 4. Honesty and transparency

While real estate of the realm agents must abide by a code of ethics or department of state laws, there are still some bad apples in the diligence .
hera ’ s a few ways to gauge whether you ’ re in the hands of a honest, trustworthy professional :

  • Commission: The agent should disclose their commission and any other fees (and explain what it covers). Realtor commission is negotiable, so watch out for agents who tell you otherwise. 
  • Expectations: No agent can guarantee that your home will sell at a sky-high price or that you’ll have a stress-free transaction. Good agents don’t make promises and set reasonable expectations.
  • Experience: Watch out for agents who misrepresent their experience or credentials, like how many homes they’ve sold.  An agent’s online information should match up with what they tell you. 
  • References: Transparent agents can provide you with the contact information for several past clients for you to contact.

» LEARN: How to negotiate deputation and save on fees

How to pick a realtor for your situation

maximum savings | Selling to buy | First-timers | Relocation | Foreclosures
Your situation as a dwelling buyer or seller may determine what qualities are most crucial when you ’ re trying to pick a real estate of the realm agent .
Below you ’ ll witness advice we gleaned from experts on what to do if you ’ re in one of these common situations .

Maximum savings

Whether you ’ re buying or selling a home plate, working with an agent-matching military service ( AMS ) is a great choice if you don ’ t have an agent picked out so far .
AMS ’ match you up with top-rated local anesthetic agents based on your needs as a family buyer or seller. They ’ re 100 % free to use, and some offer significant commission savings .
We recommend Clever, which matches you with lead local agents and pre-negotiates a flat $ 3,000 or 1 % list fee. Clever says its sellers save $ 9,600 in commission fees, on modal, while buyers earn 0.5 % cash back on qualifying homes .
» MORE: Must-See Clever Real Estate Reviews

Selling to buy

54 % of people use the lapp realtor to buy a new home and sell their old one, but this approach only makes sense if you ’ rhenium buy and sell in the same sphere .
Your list agent might be bequeath to offer a commission discount since they ’ ll get two paychecks alternatively of one .
But inaugural check to see if the agentive role has experience helping clients sell and buy at the same time – they need to be super organized and pay close attention to detail to manage both deals .

First-time buyers or sellers

You need a highly communicative agent the foremost time you buy or sell a home because you ’ ll have lots of questions .
Prioritize working with person motivated and will to hold your hand through the entire work .
veteran agents who do a high book of transactions may not be able to work as close with you, or they might even handwriting you off to a less-experienced member of their team .

Relocation agents

If you ’ re planning to relocate, look for an agent who can help you with nerve-racking moving tasks, like hiring movers, and person who knows how to close a deal in your absence .
For buyers: It ’ second fresh to look for agents who are tech-savvy and can provide you with virtual tours if you ’ re ineffective to view homes in person .
For sellers: You ’ ll need an agent who is super-trustworthy since you ’ rhenium handing them the keys to your house. They ’ ll be creditworthy for showing your home to buyers in your absence .


Buying a bank-owned place takes a set more patience and homework than buying from a homeowner, and it can be a drawn-out, nerve-racking process .
Aim to pick an agent with across-the-board real estate owned ( REO ) experience, including helping buyers purchase government-owned properties ( HUD, VA, and USDA foreclosures ) .

How to choose a realtor: FAQs

What’s the best way to choose a real estate agent?

The best way to choose a actual estate of the realm agent is to narrow your search down to 2–3 lead local anesthetic agents with the help of an agent matching service like Clever Real Estate .
following, comparison each realtor by gauging things like :

  • How well they communicate
  • Their level of local knowledge
  • Their experience

last, sign an agreement with the agent you ‘re the most convinced in .

How long does it take to choose a realtor?

Choosing the best real estate agentive role for your situation can take several days or evening several weeks, but you should n’t rush the process .
Take the time to compare 2–3 top agents in your area before you commit to one .
A discount rate real estate agent like Clever can match you with 2–3 top agents if you need help getting started .

What should I watch out for when I choose a real estate agent?

The biggest bolshevik flags to watch out for when you ‘re choosing a real estate agent admit :

  • Numerous bad reviews from customers
  • Poor communication
  • Less than 10 transactions in the past 12 months
  • Pressure to sign a contract immediately


1 Justin Lindsey, Account Executive at Clever Real Estate, video interview, June 30, 2021 2 Todd Stolte, REALTOR at Keller Williams St. Louis, television interview, August 4, 2021 3 Ben Mizes, CEO of Clever Real Estate, video interview, June 30, 2021 4 National Association of REALTORS. ( 2021, March ). 2021 Home Buyers and Sellers Generation Trends Report. hypertext transfer protocol : // 5 Luke Babich, COO of Clever Real Estate, video recording consultation, June 25, 2021

Related reading

How to Find a real number Estate agent : What You NEED to Know : Discover the lead ways to start your search for a local anesthetic very estate agent, and learn what to watch out for along the manner .
The Best Discount Real Estate Brokers for Every Budget : Read about the top discount brokers that can help you save money when you buy or sell your next house.

Must-See Clever Real Estate Reviews ( Learn the TRUTH ! ) : Find out what actual customers are saying about Clever Real Estate, how it works, and how a lot money you could save on realtor commissions .
How to Sell Your Home – The Ultimate Guide : Learn everything you need to know about the home selling work, from start to finish, to get quick for your big sale .
What Does a real Estate Agent REALLY Do ? : Learn what the agent ’ second key responsibilities include for both sellers and buyers .

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