Choosing the Right Real Estate Agent

Selecting the right agent to represent your interests will make the home buying process smoother

First, you need to know the differences in the terminology. The term "real estate agent" and "broker" are often interchanged and can mean the same thing depending on geography. The term "agent" is often the blanket title used when referring to most real estate professionals and generally doesn't distinguish the amount of training, experience and overall knowledge one may have.

  • An "agent" is licensed by the state's real estate commission, which means they have completed prerequisite courses and passed an exam.

  • A "broker" has experience as an agent, completed additional training courses, earned certifications, and may have some managerial responsibility within a real estate company.

  • A "REALTOR®" is an official member of the National Association of REALTORS®, a voluntary step that makes them a part of an organization of over 1.3 million agents, brokers, and appraisers involved in the business of residential and commercial real estate. They abide by a high standard of ethics and have access to a wealth of training and valuable resources as association members. 

Choosing the Right Realtor®

It's so crucial to choose an experienced Realtor you'll feel comfortable spending a great deal of time with and you’re confident they possess the skills to properly look out for your best interests throughout your property search and ultimately the contract process. Furthermore, it is also important that your agent’s primary profession is real estate so you know you’re receiving a full-time service and nothing less.

No matter who you choose for your Realtor, they should possess at a minimum, a wide variety of professional real estate skills in order to guide you through the entire buying process and to deal with anything that may arise through-out your property search, during the negotiation phase and contract execution and ultimately everything pertaining to the closing. Above all else, you should feel confident that your agent has your best interests in mind at all times through-out the entire process.

Setting Expectations

After you have chosen your agent, take some time to review both you and your real estate agent's expectations, both in terms of what you are looking for in a property and what you are looking for in terms of communication. This will help things get off to a smooth start and keep the process moving. Here are some topics to discuss:

  • Communication: How often do you want to be contacted? What is your preferred method of staying in touch?

  • Motivation: Why are you looking to buy a home at this time? What is most important—location, size, features, or community?

  • Time frame: Is there a certain date that you will need to be in your new home? How flexible is that date?

  • Price: Have you determined a price range for your property search?

  • Relocation assistance: Would you like relocation assistance in moving to or from a new area?

  • Home buying decisions: Are there any other people who will be involved in the decision making process? If so, who will be the main point of contact during the process? Whose name will be on the deed & mortgage note?

  • Home search plan: Do you have a plan to find your next home (online searches, attending open houses, etc.)? Your agent can assist with this process.

  • Previous home purchases: Have you ever purchased a home before? If so, you can apply the positive aspects to the process this time around, and change any negative ones.

  • Concerns: Are there any concerns you have or challenges you are worried about? Your agent is there to advise you from start to finish.

How is my agent paid?

When a seller sells their home, a portion of that sale price is paid to their listing agent as commission. That predetermined percentage of commission will be split with the buyers’ agent, usually in equal percentages. This means that your agent does not get paid until the closing on the sale has taken place and the home changes ownership.