By Rae Catanese, Realtor at RE/MAX Bay to Bay Tampa, Fl
Asking friends and family who they have used in the past is always the obvious choice, but if you are relocating to another area like Tampa. you may not have that option. You can always use the Internet as a tool to research top realtors in the city you are moving to, (here’s the Google results for my name,) but you’ll also want to ask some important questions.
Here are some tips to finding a reputable Realtor:
1. Longevity: How long has the real estate agent been in residential sales? Is it the agent’s full-time job? While experience is no guarantee of skill, real estate, like many other professions, is mostly learned on the job. A full-time agent is dedicated to the profession and relies upon on closing deals to get paid, while a part timer does not.
2. Reputation: What is the agent’s real estate license number? You can research if any complaints have been filed against a realtor on your state’s Department of Business and Professional Regulation website.
3. Production: How many homes did the agent or the agent’s team/company sell last year?
4. Pricing Strategies: How many days does it take the agent to sell the average home? How does this compare to the overall market? (Keep in mind short sales take much longer to sell.) How close to the initial asking prices of the homes were the final sale prices?
5. Technology: What types of unique marketing systems and approaches will the agent use to sell your home? Look for a realtor who has aggressive, innovative approaches, not just someone who’s going to put a sign in the yard and hope for the best.
For instance, is the agent tech savvy? Does the agent have a real estate blog and are they using social media sites like Twitter, Google+ and Facebook? These tools are essential for word of mouth advertising and viral marketing campaigns.
You may think that technology is only important if you are a seller, but what if you are a buyer in a tight housing market with low inventory? An agent with a large social media following can ask their followers, friends and past clients if they know of anyone who is looking to sell, which would put a buyer in a better position to find something that isn’t yet on the market.
6. Communication: How will the agent keep you informed about the progress of your transaction? How frequently? Using what medium?
7. Other Services: Can the agent recommend service providers who can assist you in obtaining a mortgage, making repairs to your home and other things you need done? Keep in mind here that real estate professionals should generally recommend more than one provider and should tell you if they receive any compensation from any provider.
8. Support: What type of support and supervision does the agent’s brokerage office provide him or her? Having resources, such as in-house support staff, access to a real estate attorney or assistance with technology can help a real estate professional sell your home.
9. References: Can the agent give you the names and phone numbers of his or her three most recent clients? LinkedIn is another good resource to find testimonials and recommendations, and the top realtors will have reviews displayed on their profiles, along with any awards received and publications which they have contributed.
While these questions are all good places to start when deciding which agent to hire, also trust your instincts. If you are a seller and one agent is saying your house is worth $300,000 and two others say $250,000, that should be a red flag. An agent may be trying to get your home on the market only to pressure you for multiple price reductions down the line.
Buying and selling a home is one of the biggest decisions you may make in your lifetime and you’ll want to have a high level of comfort and trust with your agent. Transactions can sometimes take many months, and you don’t want to be stuck with someone with which you don’t have a good rapport.
Have you had a good or not so good experience with a Realtor? What do you think it takes to be a top Realtor We’d love to hear your story. Leave a comment below.