Our top 10 tips to finding the right agent.

Iain Bayly

If you are going to be using a real estate agent to sell your house, here are our top 10 tips to finding the right one.

  1. Meet agents out of their office. Good agents spend very little time at their desks and a lot of time in the community, that’s why they are good.
  2. Interview several agents. Some agents will tell you what you want to hear. Make sure they are not selling you a dream... you want to hire an ethical real estate agent.
  3. Work with a Local. Someone who specialises in working within your community. A real estate agent who knows the area well, knows about any adverse local market conditions that an outsider might not know of.
  4. Check their references. Ask other real estate agents you interview if they know the other agent and what they think about them. If they talk badly about someone, check both out, one is being dishonest.
  5. Ask how many transactions did they complete last year? Some agents keep score in dollars, saying, "I sold $50 million in real estate last year." But property values vary from market to market and house to house, so what you really want to ask is, "How many deals did you complete?"
  6. Ask them what's their plan for marketing your home? No agent can guarantee they can sell your home. But they can tell you what steps they'll take to bring it to the attention of buyers. Press for details like, "Are you going to post this on a Web site? Put an ad in free magazines in a shopping center? Will you have someone stage my home?"
  7. What’s their specialty? If you’re selling a home in a community full of young families, hiring an agent who specializes in retirement villas is probably a bad idea. It doesn’t mean that if they only sells inner city townhouses that he can’t sell a house, but they just may not be geared up to do the best job.
  8. Ask if they work full time? Generally, you're better off with a full-time agent who keeps up with the local market, financing considerations and laws. Part-time agents, on the other hand, can provide full-time attention to one client at a time.  It all comes down to personal preference.
  9. Ask them to explain who they are and what makes them different from their competitors. Ask why you should choose them. Then ask about their firm and why their firm is different and why you should choose their firm."  If they sound like everyone else are they for you?
  10. The best way to find an agent, real-estate professionals say, is by getting a recommendation from someone you trust. Not only is your friend's experience the best predictor of your satisfaction, but, since an agent's personal network is his lifeblood, he is likely to work harder knowing that a friend or client will hear about his performance.