Finding the right real estate agent is critical to your home search...and likely easier than you think.
The characteristics that define a great real estate agent are fairly intuitive. Most buyers say they seek an agent with integrity, wisdom and a deep knowledge of both the current market and their specific search area. While your criteria may be similar or even broader, the real challenge comes not in building a list of requirements but in stacking realtors against it.
Luckily assessing agents has never been easier. By leveraging technology and investing a little time, it is fairly easy to find the agent that is right for you.
Five categories will help strong agents immediately rise to the top.
1. Check Their Focus
With over 17,000 licensed real estate agents in Minnesota, it is clear that proper qualifications go well beyond licensure. The first step in discerning if an agent is a fit for you is to understand their focus. Knowing how they’ve built their practice will go a long way toward making a match.
Strong agents are active and clearly know their niche. The best focus on a specific geographic area. A few pointed questions can help define any realtor’s focus.
- How long have they been in the industry? Is it their full time job?
- Do they specialize in a specific search area?
- How many transactions did they facilitate last year?
- How many clients do they have right now?
2. Assess their Adoption of Technology
Technology has dramatically changed the real estate industry in the past decade. Discerning how an agent has incorporated these changes into their practice can tell you instantly if they are on their game.
- Does their website look professional?
- Can they incorporate custom searches, pre-screen properties and engage via email?
- Do they have a social media presence?
- How accessible are they via email and cell phone?
3. Ask for References and Testimonials
While any agent’s website testimonials will likely be glowing, succinct and well-written, they can also help you understand what a prospective agent sees as his or her differentiators. How they choose to highlight their services and past interactions speaks to their perception of what makes a strong agent.
- Review all testimonials available and ask for references for follow-up
- Check the transaction dates for those references to ensure they are recent
- If you contact past clients, focus questions less on their satisfaction and more on the process that was followed and how their agent helped
4. Cyber-stalk Them a Little
In 2017 there is no shortage of data available on almost anything, this includes real estate transactions. Ask your prospective agent about their current listings and recently closed transactions and do a little research. If they don’t have any, this is a red flag. If they do, get your creep on. Spend some time on the listings service viewing those properties (both current and sold). Assess how they fit with what the agent may have told you about their practice.
- How many properties was he/she able to easily provide?
- How many days on the market for each?
- Are they in your search area and relevant to you?
- How professional are the property descriptions and photography?
5. Make Them Prove it
At the end of the day an agent may look great on paper and check all of the boxes in client communication, service and track record. But how can you be sure they are a good fit for your family? Why not take a test drive? Most reputable agents have complimentary offerings that allow you to assess their process, attention to detail and focus.
A few common “free samples” include:
- Setting up a custom search to email properties that fit your needs
- An assessment of the value of your current home
- A walkthrough of a prospective home that fits your criteria
The Bottom Line
Residential real estate is an incredibly competitive field. This makes finding and retaining the best agent crucial to a successful search. The good news is that advances in technology make vetting agents and contrasting the options simpler than ever.
At Zachary Adams and Associates our differentiators are communication, accessibility, a superior client experience and a focus on the west metro of Minneapolis. We have facilitated hundreds of transactions and are particularly adept at customizing our approach to each client we serve.
If you are considering making a move, we’d love for you to put us to work for you. A brief consultation is a great start. Contact us today to get started.