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Tips for Choosing a Real Estate Agent

If you need the services of a real estate agent, you’ll obviously want the best. But with almost countless options out there, how do you know who’s best for you?

Whether you’re a buyer or a seller, these tips should come in handy:

1. Ask for client references.

Ask for a list of properties your prospective agent has listed and sold in the past year, complete with contact information. If you plan to sell a property, ask them if they’ve sold similar properties in terms of price, location and other crucial features. Of course, you want someone who actually specializes in what you’re selling.

2. Ask for a license.

There are state boards that issue licenses to real estate agents. Make sure you’re considering someone who has one. To verify your prospective agent’s license, contact your state board.

3. Go with an agent who possesses the right credentials.

Just like doctors and lawyers, real estate agents have specialties as well. Some common designations are Certified Residential Specialist (CRS), Accredited Buyer’s Representative (ABR), and Seniors Real Estate Specialist (SRES). An agent who refers to himself as a Realtor with a capital “R” is someone who is a member of the National Association of Realtors (NAR). A Realtor is someone who has formally pledged to abide by the organization’s strict code of ethics.

4. Choose a seasoned agent.

Know how long your prospective agent has been in business. You can ask the agent directly or check with your state licensing authority. You should consider prospects who have been in the industry for a minimum of five years. You don’t want them to be learning on you.

5. Scan current listings.

Take time out to scan an agent’s online listings. Visit their website or search a realtor site’s online database for properties in the MLS. Nowadays, people start their search on the Internet, and you’ll want an agent who can manipulate this tool for your maximum benefits. You have to be able to tap that huge market out there, or you could end up with a lot of missed opportunities.

6. Inquire about other for-sale houses in the area.

A good agent is knowledgeable about the different properties in your target location. Mention one that has just been sold or is still up for sale. If the agent can give you a few details, that’s a sign that he’s really familiar with the area.

Before you decide which agent to choose, make sure you have considered two or three prospects and made comparisons. You can’t say someone is right for you if there is no point of reference.

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