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The ever-changing real estate process can be confusing at times…which is why having an experienced, trustworthy real estate agent to work with is essential!

Here are 7 qualities you should look for in your real estate agent to ensure that your home buying or selling experience is a good one!

1. Full-Time

This is not an area to compromise. Buying or selling a home is the biggest financial transaction most people make. You need a full-time real estate agent.

If you hire someone who only has a client every now and then, how well will they negotiate with an agent who’s out there every day? How will they know how to price your home, when they haven’t seen many homes sold recently? If they’re at their other job, how will they be able to handle problems that arise during that time?

2. Tech Savvy

According to a study from the National Association of Realtors, 9 of 10 home buyers today rely on the internet as one of their primary research sources, and 52% turn to the web as their first step, so you want an agent who uses this tool effectively.

Having a real estate agent who’s web savvy, and understands the internet and search engines is necessary to getting your home to stand out online — where you (and other buyers) are looking! In today’s online world people expect information the moment it’s available. If your real estate agent isn’t tech savvy, you might not know your dream home was listed until days later when other buyers have already made offers.

3. Licensed and in Good Standing

Check with your state’s department of regulatory agency to see if your real estate agent is licensed and if there have been any legitimate disciplinary actions or complaints against them. While this is not a total guarantee of your agent’s integrity, it’s a good start.

Google and other search engines are also your friend – use them to see what other consumers are saying about your real estate agent.

4. Communicates Well and Often

The No. 1 complaint in the real estate industry is lack of communication.

Regular updates via phone, text, and email are imperative – even if there’s nothing to report. When talking with a potential real estate agent, ask them how they’ll keep you informed about your transaction and how frequently. (Then ask their past clients the same question). Their answer should reflect the type of communication style and frequency you desire.

5. Knowledgeable

You want an agent who knows their way around a purchase contract and how to negotiate. This may sound silly, but if you want to buy or sell your house, you want someone who’s a residential agent, not a commercial one. Many agents get additional training in specific areas of real estate.

Here are a few of the most common real estate designations:
  • CRS (Certified Residential Specialist): Completed additional training in handling residential real estate.
  • ABR (Accredited Buyer’s Representative): Completed additional education in representing buyers in a transaction.
  • SRES (Seniors Real Estate Specialist): Completed training aimed at helping buyers and sellers in the 50-plus age range.
6. A Local Market Expert

In addition to the special designations agents have, many specialize in working within a specific community. If you’re looking at a particular area to live, find a real estate agent who is actively engaged in that community and has a strong market presence. An agent who is familiar with the area can advise you of local market conditions that an outsider might not be aware of.

7. Trustworthy

Are they truthful? Do they have integrity? It’s critical to work with a real estate agent you trust. Be wary of an agent who’s selling you rainbows and fairy tales.

Do you need to make changes to your home for it to sell? Do you need to be more realistic about the offer you’re putting in on your dream home? A real estate agent who isn’t direct with you about these issues can cost you that opportunity.

You also want an agent who puts your interests above their own. If you’re looking for a 3-bedroom, 2-bath home, you want to see all of them in your price range and area – including any that are offering a reduced commission (that cuts their income).

All these ideas are great, but how do you get the real scoop on an agent?

Research Your Real Estate Agent

First, identify a couple of agents you’d consider working with and set up a time to meet with each agent for an interview…referrals are a great way to start.

Then, during the interview, ask the agent to provide a list of the properties they have listed and sold in the past year, along with the buyer or seller’s contact information. Talk with their past clients regarding the agent’s communication habits, integrity and knowledge.

Finally, look at their past and current listings. You can use Realtor.com or the agents own site. Are their properties similar to the one you want to buy or sell? Are they in your market area?

Not only will the information you gain from the interview and past clients give you insight into how each agent works, talking with a few agents will give you a better sense of how they compare and which one is a better fit for you.

By Neil Christiansen, Branch Manager of Churchill Mortgage Denver, CO

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