Whether you’re embarking on your first real estate transaction or you're a seasoned veteran, having the right real estate agent is crucial to a smooth process. But with over 2 million agents in the U.S. alone, how are you expected to find the right one for you?

Start by asking friends and family for referrals in your target area. Find out about their experiences and, hopefully, you will find a name that keeps coming up. Once you have a couple names, call the agents and set up a time to go over some basic, but absolutely essential questions.

[See: 10 Tips to Sell Your Home Fast.]

How long have you been selling real estate?

This question is key because it can lead to so much more than simply a number of years. While it is true that experience doesn’t necessarily equal success, real estate is a commission-based business and it would be very difficult for an agent to survive for a long time providing awful service. An agent who has seen many different situations is less likely to be rattled should any bumps be encountered down the road.

What is your average number of clients?

Or if you really want to be blunt: Do you, and will you, have enough time for me? No one wants to feel as if they’re thrown to the wayside while their agent is working with dozens of other clients. If your agent is working with a high volume of clients, find out how he or she plans to remedy the situation should you need additional support. Does she have other team members who can help? Does she have a licensed assistant who can offer advice?

What is your ratio of buyers to sellers?

As you talk with agents, you will find many work with primarily buyers or sellers. On many teams, there are designated buyer agents and listing agents. While it’s good to know one thing very well, this can also lead to a limited perspective. How well can your agent be expected to know what a seller may be thinking if he’s only worked with buyers, or vice versa? Not only that, but should you be looking to sell your current house and buy another, the transactions will be much more seamless should one agent be able to oversee the entire process.

What area do you cover?

You will likely encounter agents who are neighborhood experts and others who will travel halfway across the country to make a sale. It’s best to find someone in the middle. The internet now allows agents a better understanding of a larger territory, but doesn’t mean they can cover an entire state while maintaining intimate knowledge of local markets. And when working with that “neighborhood expert," they may try too hard to fit you into a shoe that doesn’t fit. Find someone who works both in and around your main area of interest.

[See: The Best Apps for House Hunting.]

Are you part of a team?

Working with a team can have many benefits, but the relationship you will have with the other members should be clarified from the get-go. Within a team, its members will have a wider level of experience and you will often find one has more intimate knowledge of specific situations than another. However, it should be disclosed up front if the team plans for you to work with one agent the duration of the transaction, or if you will be meeting with different people at different times. You shouldn’t expect to work with just one agent, only to find you’re passed around at every step along the way.

Are you equipped to handle my unique situation?

Are you a long-term investor, first-time homebuyer, house flipper, or selling an estate? These are just a few of the unique scenarios you may find yourself and you don’t want an agent who has little to no experience in your specific area. Don’t be fooled by someone who answers the question with, “Don’t worry, I’ve dealt with this before.” Ask the agent what unique issues could arise and how she would handle them.

What type of communication should I expect from you?

At this point, you should already notice if you and the agent understand how each other communicates. Equally important, this should be where you both set expectations for how often you should be updated, the best methods to use and who all needs to be kept in the loop. These should be determined by what makes you, as the client, feel most comfortable.

Do you have a recommended vendors list?

An experienced agent will have developed trusted relationships with other industry professionals over a long period of time. From lenders and title companies to contractors and inspectors, your agent should be able to refer you to multiple sources so you can ultimately determine who works best for you. These should be recommendations, nothing more – the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act gives you the right to choose who you work with every step of the way.

Can I have the contact information for three references?

While an agent should be able to accurately judge the customer service provided, no one can better say than his past clients. Obviously, agents won’t be handing out information for clients who hated them, so take what they say with a grain of salt. Ask specific, open-end questions based on your priorities.

[See: 10 Unorthodox Ways Your Real Estate Agent May Market Your Home.]

What questions do you have for me?

This is the most important question you will ask. The true determination of a person’s mindset and priorities is exposed by the questions she asks. Anyone can ask how much you want to sell your house for or how many bathrooms you want in your new home. If an agent takes the time to get to know you, your goals and your priorities, this is an excellent indicator he is already setting a foundation of client-centered service, for which there is no substitute.

Tags: real estate, housing market, housing, home prices, new home sales, existing home sales, pending home sales


Ray Boss Jr. is a full-time, licensed Realtor for Re/Max Realty Group in Gaithersburg, Maryland, with over 11 years of experience working with clients ranging from first-time homebuyers to investors, sellers and renters. You can learn more about Ray by connecting with him on LinkedIn.

Recommended Articles

Tips to Make Your Home Instagram-Worthy

Devon Thorsby | Aug. 16, 2019

Inspire social media envy and excitement with these design and photography tips.

7 Fall Decor Tips for Your Home

Deanna Haas | Aug. 16, 2019

Autumn provides home sellers with unique opportunities for staging and decorating. But does fall decor actually help sell your home, or make it more difficult to attract buyers?

The Biggest Cities in the U.S.

Devon Thorsby | Aug. 14, 2019

These cities have the largest populations in the country, with amenities to match.

Smart Home Upgrades to Raise Home Value

Steven Gottlieb | Aug. 12, 2019

Smart home technology may wow homebuyers, but they may not be willing to pay more for the latest upgrades.

The Guide to Closing Costs

Devon Thorsby | Aug. 9, 2019

Here's a breakdown of what buyers and sellers can expect to pay when closing on a home sale.

The Best Places on the West Coast

Devon Thorsby | Aug. 7, 2019

Discover metro areas near the Pacific Ocean that offer residents the most.

10 Secrets to Selling Your Home Faster

Teresa Mears, Devon Thorsby | Aug. 2, 2019

Consider these low-cost ways to sell a home fast by attracting buyers with great photos, fresh curb appeal and social media buzz.

The 25 Best Places to Find a Job

Devon Thorsby | Aug. 1, 2019

These metro areas have the strongest job markets in the country.

5 First-Time Homebuyer Mistakes

Robin Kencel | July 30, 2019

Keep an eye out for these details in the homebuying process to keep the right mindset and avoid buyer's remorse.

The Best Places to Live for Singles

Devon Thorsby | July 25, 2019

These metro areas offer affordable, enviable living for people who are looking to make a move solo.

What to Expect When iBuyers Sell Homes

Dima Williams | July 25, 2019

Eventually, iBuyers become iSellers. Here's what homebuyers should know before making a deal.

Why Days on Market Matter for Home Sales

Deanna Haas | July 24, 2019

What’s really measured by days on market, and the implications this figure has for homebuyers and sellers alike.

How to Refresh Your Home on the Market

Wendy Arriz | July 23, 2019

Here are five things you can try to attract the right buyer to your home before you drop the asking price.

30 Most Fun Places to Live in the U.S.

Devon Thorsby | July 19, 2019

Take advantage of what these metro areas have to offer for your free time.

5 Things About Renter Laws in Florida

Devon Thorsby | July 17, 2019

Whether you're an investor or a renter, know your rights and responsibilities when it comes to residential leases in the Sunshine State.

Why a Home Floor Plan Matters

Steven Gottlieb | July 16, 2019

Not all square feet are created equal when it comes to your home's layout.

Packing Tips for Moving to Your New Home

Devon Thorsby | July 12, 2019

Prevent a moving-day disaster with these expert packing tips.

Living Room Renovation Ideas on a Budget

Devon Thorsby | July 10, 2019

Give your living room a personal touch with these simple remodeling ideas that won't break the bank.

Should You Get a Swimming Pool?

Lisa Larson | July 8, 2019

Before you call up a local pool installer, consider the costs, hassle and potential added value that a pool could bring.

Best Places to Live in North Carolina

Devon Thorsby | July 5, 2019

Which Tar Heel State metro area meets your needs for cost of living, job market and quality of life?