How to pick the right real estate agent

Real estate agent showing apartment to coupleImage: Real estate agent showing apartment to couple

In a Nutshell

Some of the most important decisions you will make are associated with buying or selling a home. Here are some tips for finding the right real estate agent.
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Some of the most important decisions you’ll make in your lifetime are the ones associated with buying or selling a home.

If you’re a buyer, you’ll want to find the right neighborhood, right home and right mortgage. If you’re a seller, you’ll want to pick the right price and time to sell. But the step that’s often overlooked is finding the right real estate agent.

Real estate agents can be helpful in guiding you through the home-buying or selling experience, as they likely have knowledge and experience that you might not have and handle the paperwork for you.

When you are buying, they can help find the home and area that best fit your family’s needs. When you are selling, they set up and oversee open houses, making your life a little easier.

Three ways you can find a real estate agent

  • Referrals: Ask your friends, family or co-workers to refer you to a real estate agent with whom they had a positive home-buying or selling experience.
  • Searching online: Do a search for the top real estate companies in your area, then go to those websites and look up profiles of individual agents at offices near you.
  • Attending open houses: This is a great way to meet real estate agents without the pressure of having to make a decision right away.

Realtors® vs. real estate agents

One important factor to take into consideration is that there is a difference between a real estate agent and a Realtor®. All Realtors® are real estate agents, but not all real estate agents are Realtors®.

Although both Realtors® and real estate agents are licensed to sell real estate, the basic difference between the two is that Realtors® belong to the National Association of Realtors® (NAR®), while not all real estate agents can make that claim.

As a member of the NAR®, a Realtor® must subscribe to the Realtor® Code of Ethics, which contains 17 Articles and Standards of Practice. Because of the pledge that licensed Realtors® must make to “put the interests of buyers and sellers ahead of their own and to treat all parties honestly and fairly,” you may have a better experience if you take the time to find a Realtor®.

Bottom line

When considering a real estate agent, it’s important to know your goals and expectations. What do you want out of your real estate agent?

If you have certain expectations, such as a certain frequency of open houses, it’s crucial that you find an agent who is on the same page. So, before you choose a real estate agent, sit down and make a list of the things you know you want to do in order to sell your house. Then find a real estate agent who will meet those expectations.

If you are buying, don’t assume that your work is done after you find a good real estate agent. Be sure to continue to shop around for the best mortgage so you can afford the home that your real estate agent finds. Always compare rates and monthly payments, and find a mortgage that fits into your budget.

Want to learn more? Check out some of our top mortgage lenders for first-time homebuyers.

  • Homebridge Mortgage: Homebridge offers resources that specifically cater to first-time homebuyers.
  • Rocket Mortgage: Consider Rocket Mortgage if you’d prefer an online-first experience.
  • PennyMac Mortgage: PennyMac offers a wide variety of home loans and shares current rates on its site, which can be helpful for people looking to buy their first home.
  • USAA Mortgage: USAA is a good option for military members and their families. 

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