Buying a home is exciting - but it can also be one of the most stressful times in a person’s life.  That’s why it’s important to have a good realtor to walk you through the process.  How much should you offer?  What’s a fair price for your home?  Which neighbourhoods are best for a family with small children?  These are all questions that a real estate agent should be able to answer.  When you’re looking to move, a good real estate agent makes all the difference.  Read on to see how you can find the right realtor.

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1. Get Recommendations

In a perfect world, you’ll know a few different people who used different real estate agents to buy or sell a home who all had awesome experiences.  If you can get recommendations from family and friends like that, you’re off to a great start when it comes to finding the right realtor.  However, if you don’t know anyone who can recommend an agent, the internet can give you a hand.  Research realtors in your area and look for ones with good reviews.  Pay particular attention to an agent who has won any peer-given awards.  That means they’re excelling in a particular area as judged by those in the real estate industry - and that’s usually a good sign.Get Recommendations

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2. Ask the Right Questions

Once you’ve found a few real estate agents that you think you’d like to work with, you’ll want to ask them a few questions before signing up for their services.  It’s important to understand how many clients the realtor typically represents at a time, which neighbourhoods they do the most work in, and the number of homes they’ve closed in your area [Forbes].  Of course, you’ll want to get references too.  Ask the real estate agent to provide a list of homes they’ve sold in the past year, and contact information.  When discussing past clients, get the agent to talk about someone who was happy with their service, and a customer who perhaps wasn’t completely thrilled.Ask the Right Questions

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3. Speak with Recent Clients

Those references you asked for?  Yes, you need to call them.  Ask about the quality of the service the realtor provided, and whether or not the buying and/or selling process was executed smoothly.  If you can, see if you can find out the list price and actual sale price of their home, and how long it was on the market.  If you’re looking for an agent to sell your home, focus on past clients with properties who are similar to yours.

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4. Verify their Licensing

Each state has their own boards that license and discipline real estate agents.  Before selecting an agent to work with, check with the regulatory body to help determine that your potential realtor is a reputable one. You’ll want to verify that the real estate agent is licensed, and find out whether there have been any disciplinary actions or complaints filed against them.  In some cases, you may be able to find that information online.

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Check out Current Listings

Before selecting a realtor, go online and check out their current listings.  You’ll want to check both the agent’s website, as well as Realtor.com - a searchable online database for properties in the Multiple Listing Service.  Despite what you may have heard, when it comes to a realtor’s website, you should judge a book by its cover.  Most people begin their search for a home online, so you want to ensure that you’re working with an agent who not only understands the web, but attractively presents their listings to encourage interest from potential buyers.

Current listings are also a good barometer of agent success.  A realtor with a healthy number of listings most likely has a solid business -  too many however, may be an indicator that you won’t get the quality service you desire.

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Ask About Other Homes for Sale in Your Neighbourhood

You want to work with an agent who really knows your neighborhood.  Therefore, it’s a good idea to ask any potential realtor about other properties in the area that are available.  He or she should be able to list a few homes immediately.  Mention a property that’s recently sold or one that’s for sale - see if you can get a few details from your agent.  If they’re quick to offer up some info - before they consult their notes - you’ve got an agent that really knows your ‘hood.

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