The ideal agent is not always the one with the most sales under his or her belt, or the most years on the job. The ideal agent is one who listens to you, is easy to get along with, and has the tools and skills to address your unique situation.
Every home buyer is different. Some have credit issues. Some are buying from out of state. Some need help selling their current home in addition to buying a new one. Just as buyers have different needs, real estate agents have different skills and specialties.
Here's how to find the agent who's right for you:
1. Ask friends and family for agent referrals.
Nobody knows you as well as your friends and family do. So they're often in the best position to recommend an agent who is well-suited for your needs. You can also trust a referral from friends or family more than one that comes from a stranger.
2. Talk to multiple agents.
I once saw a statistic that 84% of home buyers choose the first real estate agent they contact. This means one of two things. Either most people are choosing wisely the first time, or they're just rushing into things without shopping around. Probably a little of both.
You don't have to exhaust yourself interviewing agent after agent, but at least talk with two or three to see who you're most comfortable with (which leads to the next point).
3. Consider the vibe factor.
Professional expertise is an important criterion when choosing a real estate agent. But interpersonal skills are equally important. After all, you'll be working with this person anywhere from 2 to 12 months, so it helps to get along with them. We all have unique personalities, and that's the way it should be. But when working with someone professionally, if helps if their personality "meshes" well with your own.
4. Ask how they hunt.
When deciding on a real estate agent, ask how they search for homes. Some agents have their own preferred listings that they favor. But you want what's best for you, not what's best for your agent. You're paying them, right? So make sure the agent is willing to search high and low to find the best home for you. That includes using the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) as well as their own personal network.
5. Read paperwork carefully.
This advice is heavily used for a reason. It's critical that you examine all documents during the home buying process, and that includes your agent agreement. At some point during the relationship, your agent will probably ask you to sign an agent agreement. Basically, it just means that if the agent shows you a particular property, your purchase of the property should be credited to that agent. In most cases it's a simple, just be sure to read it carefully and ask questions.