3 Secrets for Finding the Best Real Estate Agent in Town
Anyone can use a search engine to find a real estate agent. You’re also sure to find a lot of articles online with general advice on how to pick one. What is often missing, however, are actionable, insider tips for tracking down the absolute best agents, and more importantly, the best real estate agent for you.
That’s what we plan to remedy here. These are secrets we’ve heard from some of our own clients, and now we are passing them on to you...and if you are in the St. Louis area, of course we hope that you’ll choose us here at Select Properties :)
The Basics of Finding a Real Estate Agent
Many of the traits people should look for in a realtor are common sense. Things like integrity and honesty are no-brainers. Motivation and an outgoing personality are both pluses. And no one wants to work with someone who does not pay attention to details or is not a good communicator.
Expertise for agents specifically include a thorough knowledge of the local housing market and top-notch negotiating skills. Good realtors are pros at pricing homes, marketing, and closing sales at the best price for their clients, whether they are buyers or sellers.
All of these things, whether personality traits or industry knowledge apply not only to real estate, but to any type of working relationship. Ultimately, people are searching for someone who listens, understands what is in their best interest, will work hard, and has the expertise to get them the best possible result.
We suggest three basic steps for finding the best real estate agent: Getting referrals, researching, and reviewing agents with an interview. Digging a little deeper into how to go about these steps and what to look for specifically, we’ve come up with the following insider secrets to find the best real estate agent in town.
Lender’s Opinions Go a Long Way
Friends, family, and coworkers are good sources for agent referrals. For sellers, asking neighbors with houses for sale about their realtors can be helpful. For buyers, lenders are a resource that is often overlooked.
It is recommended, especially for first-time buyers, to get pre-approved for a mortgage, or at the very least, prequalified. Either way, you will be talking to and meeting with bankers and mortgage lenders.
Good agents have extensive local networks of professionals that they work with often. Mortgage lenders see how local agents work and know who the successful, easy-to-work-with ones are in town. It is still important to interview a realtor and ask for some client references. Then take the time to contact them about their assessment of the agent. But asking who your banker recommends for your particular situation is a good way to narrow down the search for the best real estate agent.
Study the Stats
The real estate industry relies heavily on a number of statistics and rankings, both nationally and locally. Consider doing some research to find out which agents and agencies come out on top. Often the same names will consistently appear on lists of “top workplaces” or “number of closed sales”.
Many business journals do quarterly or annual assessments ranking real estate companies for these and many other things. Finding an agency that is a top place to work might not seem very important to you as a client, but consider: The best agents are in high demand and probably have their pick of companies to work with. They are more likely to go someplace where there is an excellent work atmosphere, a good team with competent support staff, and an all-round outstanding reputation.
It is also a good idea to learn the significance of some real estate industry stats, and compare potential agents to the national or local averages. In a recent article, we made the distinction between top agents vs. average agents in a number of categories. For example, top seller’s agents sold an average of 481 homes per year in St. Louis, while average agents were only responsible for 92. Top buyers agents negotiated deals at an average of 86% of asking prices. Average agents’ clients paid 89%.
True, it can be hard to unearth actual statistics for individual agents or agencies, but knowing the regional or even national averages can be helpful. It offers some context for comparison. During an interview, an agent should be able to answer the question about their own success and their company’s. In fact, the better their numbers or rankings on “best of” lists, the more likely they are to publicize that information on their websites or social media.
Social Media - Reputation, Reviews, and More
Speaking of social media, don’t discount the value of checking out potential agents’ presence online. Now, more than ever, technology plays a part in how people buy and sell homes. It’s not surprising that the internet has changed how people can find the best real estate agent too.
Online reviews of realtors can be found on sites like Zillow, Google, and Yelp. Agencies may also publish testimonials from happy clients on their own websites. Just remember that online reviews can be biased one way or another. Companies are not going to post bad reviews on their site, and public forums may include complaints that are exaggerated or based on misunderstandings or do not give the full story. The point is, online reviews can be helpful, but should probably not be a final deciding factor without getting more information from other sources.
Social media accounts for real estate agents and their individual agents can provide a good look at the people and the way they work. Facebook and Instagram are a great place for realtors to showcase their marketing creativity, their successes, and their personalities. Seeing how much attention they put into promoting a house for sale with open houses and useful information can be a clue to how hard they work and how detail oriented they are. Those who share useful articles—even if they don’t pertain directly to their current listings—are interested in educating their clients on important topics. Followers may get a glimpse into their interests, passions, and humor, all of which can help determine if the realtor/client relationship will “click.”
Get Creative to Find the Best Real Estate Agent
When you are buying or selling a home, working with a real estate agent becomes a relationship. It needs to be built on trust and communication. You will want to find someone who excels at their job and goes above and beyond the rest. Don’t be afraid to go beyond the conventional means for the search.
A good place to start is with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Select Properties. We’ll be happy to answer all of your questions to earn the title of your best real estate agent in town.
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