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How to Find the Best Agent in a Competitive Market

Written by Reuven Shechter Posted On Monday, 14 June 2021 00:00

Hiring the right Realtor is crucial to successfully buying or selling a home. They can help you make the best decisions, saving you time and money with their expertise. This is even more important in a competitive market, when homes are selling almost as soon as they’re listed. 

To help you out, we’ve put together our top tips for finding the best agent.

Ask for Referrals

Your personal network can easily be your best resource for finding an agent. In today’s hot market, chances are you know someone who has bought or sold a home recently — or knows someone who has. 

Ask them about their experience and, if it was positive, ask for the agent’s card. You'll still have to interview the agent to see if they’re the right fit for you, but it’s a great start. 

Even if you get referrals for an agent who’s not in your local market, give them a call. They might be able to recommend an agent closer to you. 

Check Out Open Houses

If you’re planning to sell your home, attending open houses is a great way to meet local seller’s agents and watch them in action. Are they welcoming the potential buyers? Are they handing out promotional materials and pointing out features? Ideally, you want a Realtor who engages buyers in a friendly, professional manner. 

Pay careful attention to how they’ve staged the home and what kind of marketing they’re doing. Even in a seller’s market, you want an agent who will do everything they can to help you get top dollar for your home. 

Interview Several Agents

Even if you think you’ve found “the one,” it’s always better to interview several agents. You’re about to embark on a momentous financial transaction. Compare several agents to make sure you’re hiring an agent who offers the services you need for the price you want. 

When you interview agents, talk with them about what’s included in their commission fee. Where and how will they be marketing your home (if you’re selling)? Or, if you’re buying, can they connect you with other professionals such as inspectors, appraisers, or lenders? The services offered by agents can vary widely, so talk to your agent to be certain you’re getting what you need. 

Commission fees can vary between brokerages and even between agents in the same firm. While a .5% difference might not sound like much, on a $300,000 home that comes out to be $1,500 — enough to cover some, if not all, of your moving expenses. 

In a competitive market, some Realtors might not be willing to compromise fees or services. If that’s the case, you can choose to move on and work with someone who offers what you need. 

Ask the Right Questions

During your interview, your real estate agent will likely present you with a proposal. While this can be helpful, you should always go a little deeper to be clear on how your business relationship will work. 

Questions from Buyers

Buying a home in this competitive market can be challenging. Make sure your agent is prepared to help you succeed by asking the tough questions. 

• What are some reasonable expectations in today’s market?
• Have you recently sold homes within my budget range?
• How will you help me place a winning offer?

Questions from Sellers

Even though sellers are currently in a strong position, you still want to work with a top-notch agent.

• What improvements should I make before listing my home?
• How much do you think my home is worth?
• How will you market my home? 

Request References

You can, and should, ask agents for references. Unless they are very new, which they should disclose, they should have clients that can vouch for them. You’ll want to talk to clients on the same side of the transaction and with similar budgets. 

You can also check your agent’s online reviews. Yelp, Google, Facebook, and other websites that allow users to rate and comment can give you some insight. One or two negative reviews aren’t necessarily a red flag as long as they are balanced out by a larger number of positive reviews. 

Go with your Gut 

At the end of the day, all things being equal, go with your instincts. Chances are, you realized at some point which Realtor would be the best fit for you. Unless their commission is outrageously high or they’ve had numerous negative reviews, choose them. 

Buying or selling a home is more than just a financial transaction. There are a lot of emotions tied to your home. In the perfect world, your Realtor will understand you, your needs, and your lifestyle. The right agent can smooth the way as you make life-changing decisions. 

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