If you’ve decided to buy a new home, or sell your current one, it’s important to have a knowledgeable advocate on your side. From yard signs to postcards and from billboards to online ads, real estate agents everywhere are vying for your attention. So how do you choose?
Whether you’re buying or selling, here are 6 easy ways to size up an agent’s potential and find the agent that’s right for you.
Look up the agent’s licensing.
In the State of Georgia, start by searching the Georgia Real Estate Commission (GREC) website. The GREC administers license law, ensures professional competency, and promotes a fair and honest market environment. You can search for licensees here and find out not only their standing with the Commission but also whether there are any disciplinary sanctions on their record. Be aware: disciplinary sanctions are red-flags that should be taken seriously.
Research how long the agent has been in business.
Your Georgia Real Estate Commission search will reveal how long the agent has been licensed, but you can also ask the agent how long they have been in business. Because you’ll want an agent that is experienced in your area and price range, you’ll want to ask for a list of homes they have listed and sold within the past 6 months, too.
Assess their marketing skills.
Look at the agent’s current listings. Start by searching on their personal website or on other sites like Realtor.com or Zillow. Do they offer an attractive presentation of the homes they sell? Are they using professional photography? Are they listing homes in your area and price point? Ideally, you’ll want to choose an agent with in-depth knowledge of the market trends in your area and whose listings closely mirror the home you’re interested in buying or selling.
Count the number of current listings. Does the agent have enough listings to indicate a healthy business but not so many that you’d just be a number? If they do have a large number of listings, do they have a team of experts in place to offer guidance and advice? You want an agent that is actively engaged and working, but not so busy that they can’t pay personal attention to your needs.
Check out their ratings, reviews, and references.
Look at online reviews. Start by searching the agent’s personal website or on other sites like Facebook, Zillow, Google, Kudzu, and Yelp. Online reviews are the next best thing to personal referrals, and this research can provide a wealth of information that you might not obtain otherwise.
Ask for references. No one judge’s an agent’s level of service better than their past clients. Don’t be afraid to ask for references for homes listed and sold within the past 6 months. Call the agent’s past clients and ask what the listing price was and what the sales price was. Ask about how long the home was on the market. What you want is to find an agent whose listings sell at a high list to sales price ratio and low number of days on market. Another good question to ask is: Do you have any specific compliments or complaints?
Pick a winner.
Have they received any peer-given awards? Ask and research what awards the agent may have received in the past 5 years. Designations awarded by their state or local branch of the National Association of REALTORS(R) are important and can not only reflect their sales but also their commitment to the community.
Have they received any consumer satisfaction awards? From JD Power to Five Star Professional, there are a number of well-recognized customer satisfaction designations awarded in the real estate industry. Research-driven recognition and awards like these indicate that the agent (and/or their brokerage) provides exceptional client satisfaction and service.
Select an agent with the right credentials.
Designations are a sign that an agent has continued their education beyond the minimum state requirements for licensing and has specific training in a certain category of real estate sales. Here’s what some of the real estate designations mean:
CRS (Certified Residential Specialist): Completed additional training in handling residential real estate.
ABR (Accredited Buyer’s Representative): Completed additional education in representing buyers in transactions.
SRES (Seniors Real Estate Specialist): Completed training aimed at helping buyers and sellers in the 50-plus age range.
MRP (Military Relocation Professional): Completed additional education in representing current and former military service members.
REALTOR(R): A member of the National Association of Realtors (NAR) that has formally pledged to adhere to its code of ethics.
If you’re starting your search for the right agent, Debbie Redford is a full-time managing broker and REALTOR(R) at All Atlanta Realty in East Cobb County, Georgia, with over 30 years experience working with clients from first-time home buyers to investors, sellers, and new home builders. Her designations include CRS (Certified Residential Specialist), SRES (Seniors Real Estate Specialist), and MRP (Military Relocation Professional), and she has been awarded the Five Star Professional designation for 2018--a distinction that represents the top 1/2% of all Agents.
You can learn more about Debbie and her team of courteous professionals by connecting with her on Facebook.