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How to Find a Good (Scratch That - AMAZING) Real Estate Agent to Sell Your Home

May 2, 2024 2:00:00 PM / by Matt McGee

Experts say we make more than 30,000 decisions every day. If you’ve ever sold a home before, that number might seem low! Putting your home on the market opens up a world of daily decisions that will impact how soon and for how much it sells.

One important decision you need to get right? Hiring the right real estate agent to help sell your home. Hire the wrong agent and you’ll probably

  • make less on your home sale than you should, and

  • have a bad experience that leaves you filled with regret

“It can be catastrophic,” says veteran Phoenix agent Blair Ballin about the ramifications of hiring the wrong agent. “It could be anything from an awful experience to, ‘This agent never called me back. They don't answer their phone. They don't text me back. All they did was the paperwork.’ It could be missing out on the dream house you’re trying to buy. It could be not getting the money that you were hoping for if you’re selling your home.”

Here’s where it gets complicated: There are a lot of real estate agents to choose from. Since early 2021, there have been more real estate agents in the U.S. than homes for sale. Think about that for a moment. 

That’s why finding a great agent isn’t as easy as it sounds. So let’s uncomplicate it. In this article, you’ll learn how to hire a great real estate agent. We’ll go step-by-step from where to find and meet agents to what to look for in an agent and finally, some essential questions to ask when interviewing agents. 

Realtor®, real estate agent, broker, or…?

Before we dive into finding a great agent, let’s make sure you understand the different terms used to describe the professionals who help you buy or sell property. 

Real estate agent: This is someone who has passed a state licensing exam and is qualified to help adults through the process of buying, selling, or renting properties. A real estate agent must work under the umbrella of a licensed real estate broker. They may or may not be a Realtor.

Real estate broker: This is a real estate agent who passed a broker's licensing exam, which requires additional education beyond the requirements of a real estate agent’s license. A broker can work independently, manage a brokerage firm, or oversee a team of agents. If not working independently, a broker is legally responsible for the actions of the real estate agents working under them. Note: Brokers are sometimes referred to as a “managing broker” or “designated broker.”

Realtor: This is a real estate agent or broker who is also a member of the National Association of Realtors® (NAR). All Realtors are real estate agents or brokers, but not all real estate agents and brokers are Realtors. By joining the NAR, Realtors agree to follow the organization’s Code of Ethics.

Now that you understand the types of real estate agents, let’s dive into how to find the best ones.

How to find a great real estate agent

Like any profession, real estate agents come in all shapes and sizes—they can be young or old, introvert or extrovert, serious or fun-loving, and so on. You’ll want to think about which qualities are important in a real estate agent before you choose one to help sell your home.

Once you have some ideas of what you’re looking for in an agent, here are three ways to find agents.

Ask friends or co-workers

Recommendations from people you trust are a great way to start your list of agents to consider. In fact, the NAR says it’s the most common way that both buyers and sellers find an agent. Be sure to ask for specifics about why they’re recommending a specific agent. Was it the agent’s marketing plan? Their personality and rapport? Something else? Remember that what your friend wanted or needed from their agent might be different than what you want or need.

If you know someone who works in real estate-adjacent industries such as home construction or banking, they may have insight at a professional level to complement what you learn from friends or co-workers.

Search online

Google is a great place to find real estate agents. Searches like “real estate agents in [LOCATION]” or “Realtors near me” are a good way to start. Be sure to read recent reviews to get a sense of what it’s like to work with each agent. 

You can also learn a lot about an agent and how they market homes by checking their social media profiles. According to the NAR, agents’ top three most used social media platforms are Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram. TikTok and YouTube are growing in popularity among real estate agents, and can be a great place to get a sense of an agent’s personality and marketing style.

Use Redy

As you’re looking online, Redy can help you find a great local listing agent. When you use Redy, top agents compete and pay for the privilege of listing your home. You can easily compare a curated list of agents and their proposals—including their upfront cash reward—and only meet with the agents you choose. 

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Attend open houses

Another great way to find agents is to go where they are. Attending open houses can be a great way to find a listing agent—especially if the open house is similar to yours in style or price. You don’t need to tell the agent hosting the open house that you’re looking to hire an agent soon; instead, just tour the home to see how the listing agent presents the home to buyers and observe how they interact with other attendees. Keep in mind that some open houses are not hosted by the listing agent, but you can still screen the agent who’s on site.

What to look for when choosing a real estate agent

After screening local real estate agents, it’s time to decide which one you want to hire to sell your home. Here are six factors to review when choosing your new agent.

Experience and track record

New real estate agents often bring great energy to a home sale, but when selling what’s probably the most valuable asset you own, it’s better to work with an experienced agent who has a track record of success. Look for an agent with specific experience selling homes in your neighborhood and price range. If you have a unique style of home, it’s smart to work with an agent who has sold similar homes.

Local market knowledge

Remember what we said above about there being more real estate agents than homes for sale? That imbalance is forcing some agents to look for business outside their home areas. Real estate markets can change from one city to the next, so be sure you choose an agent who knows your hometown and understands the local market.

Communication and availability

Selling a home can be very stressful. You’ll probably have a lot of questions while you’re getting your home ready and after it’s listed for sale. You might even need help from your agent dealing with pressures that crop up from day to day. So be sure you and your agent are on the same page when it comes to communication. Your agent should be available at least once a week to update you on activity related to your home—i.e., showings, buyer feedback, and the like. 

Marketing strategies

As you interview agents, each candidate should be able to show you how they market homes like yours. There’s a lot more to it than adding your home to the local MLS and putting a “For Sale” sign in the front yard. 

“So many agents just take a few photos and put the home on the MLS,” says Sarasota-area agent David Liberatore. “They have no clue about marketing a property or doing everything else to get it out there.”

Your agent should be an excellent marketer who uses both online strategies (such as email and social media marketing) and offline strategies (such as open houses and direct mail) to expose your home to potential buyers and their agents. 

Commission rates and contract terms

The listing agent’s commission will be one of your biggest expenses when selling your home. Although a 5%-6% commission has been common, recent industry developments appear likely to change that. Be sure you understand exactly what your listing agent charges and what you’re getting in return. You always have the option to hire a low-commission Realtor®, but you’ll probably have to accept trade-offs related to marketing and other services.

Upfront cash incentive

A better way to keep money in your pocket is to find your next agent with Redy. Your home listing has value and top agents in your market are willing to pay for it. Redy helps you unlock that value by connecting you with agents who are willing to pay a cash incentive upfront for the privilege of selling your home. Whenever you're Redy to get started, we'd be happy to help you tap into that value. Create your property profile today to get started.

Essential questions to ask when interviewing listing agents

Interviews are the last step before you choose a real estate agent to help sell your home. Take these interviews seriously; this is an important decision that could have a significant impact on the success of your home sale. 

When you sit down with each agent on your list, make sure you get answers to these five essential questions.

1. Are you a part-time or full-time agent?

A part-time agent isn’t necessarily a “bad” agent, but when selling the most valuable asset you own, you want an agent who can commit to you in the same way you’re committing to them. Working with a part-time agent might lead to additional stress and frustration due to poor or delayed communication. It might also mean interested buyers and their agents move on to other homes because your agent wasn’t available to answer their questions.

2. How many homes like mine have you sold in this neighborhood?

There’s no substitute for experience when it comes to the complex process of selling a home. Ask the agents you interview for specifics about their familiarity with selling homes like yours in your neighborhood. 

“If the agent sold 75 single-family homes in the suburbs last year, but I'm selling an $800,000 loft in the city, I'm more concerned with if they've ever sold a loft in the city,” says Adam Pearce, a top agent in Boise, Idaho. “I want to know my agent can work with and negotiate with agents for that type of property in that particular market.” 

3. How will you decide my home’s list price?

You probably have an idea of what your home is worth, or maybe you have a specific price in mind that you need to get when your home sells. That’s all fine and good, but the price you want might be very different from what the market says your home is worth. When interviewing agents, listen for each candidate to talk about recent sales of comparable homes (often called “comps” in the industry). The sales price of those homes will go a long way toward determining the right list price for your home.

4. How will you market my home?

Marketing a luxury home is different from marketing a standard, median-price family home. Likewise, marketing a country home on acreage is different from marketing a condo in the city. Ask each agent to offer specifics about their marketing system, and listen to see which agents have a plan that proactively exposes your home to the right buyers.

“Most agents will quickly want to share with you their plans to take high-quality photos and videos, post listings on social media, and enter your home in the MLS. That's all good, but those are not differentiators,” says Sheri Hardy, a top agent in the Marietta/East Cobb area of Georgia. “You should look for an agent who does things differently—an agent who is more proactive than reactive, an agent who has a plan and can tell you how they are going to execute that plan successfully.”

5. How will you communicate with me during the transaction?

Be sure you and your agent understand each other’s expectations around staying in touch. Most experienced listing agents will have a system for informing you about showings, buyer feedback, and any other developments that might impact the sale of your home. A weekly update is common, but if you need more frequent check-ins, make sure your agent is aware and willing to provide them.

For more on interviewing agents and asking the right questions, don’t miss these related Redy articles:

Redy reimagines the agent selection process

When it’s time to sell your home, there’s no place with a more compelling value proposition than Redy to find a top real estate agent. We’ve reimagined the agent selection process by giving you a way to unlock the value of your listing. 

On Redy, agents compete for the privilege of listing your home. They offer you a unique, only-on-Redy, cash reward that serves as their investment in you and the sale of your home. 

After you feature your property on Redy, you’ll get proposals from local agents with their commission rate, contract terms, and details of that one-of-a-kind cash reward. You’ll access each agent's profile and background details from the convenience of your phone or laptop, and you’ll only hear from the agents you want to hear from.

Start the home-selling process with Redy. This is a new and better way to find a listing agent who has the qualities you want and is willing to commit to you and your home sale with an upfront cash reward.

Redy to sell? Get started today by featuring your home on Redy, and let the best agents come to you.

Matt McGee is a writer and editor who's been immersed in the real estate industry his whole life. Matt's dad was an agent for nearly 50 years, his sister is an agent, and his wife has been a Realtor® since 2004. 

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