Qualities to Seek in Your First Real Estate Agent

Posted on Sep 24 2014 - 4:29am by Bill Gassett

Selecting a RealtorDeciding to sell your house is a big step for most people, especially if you have never done it before. You may need to move for a job, or you may need to upgrade because you are starting a family. Whatever your reasons, you need to find a real estate agent to help you through the process.

Picking your first real estate agent is almost as big of a decision as your choice to sell. Your agent can mean the difference between a quick sale and a house that sits on the market for months with no results. A great real estate agent will help you set appropriate expectations, decide what you can do to get a higher selling price, and will help you find the right buyer in your preferred time frame. These are things that excellent real estate agents do. Don't be fooled into thinking, however, that all real estate agents are the same - in fact, far from it! Your job is to make sure you pick a real estate pro.

Everyone has to start somewhere, including real estate agents. However, your first home is probably the biggest financial investment you currently have, and you cannot afford to make any mistakes in its sale. Your first agent will play a huge role in the successful sale of your property, and he or she needs to have the experience to pull it off. Choose an agent that has been in business for at least a few years, and one that has closed a respectable number of houses. For most agents, a dozen or so properties a year is common, but the higher the better. The agent should be full time and dedicated to the business. Is it possible a part time agent could do a decent job? Sure, but why take a chance when you don't have to.

Real estate agents are people, and like all people, some are better than others. Some agents have spotless reputations, while others do not. Researching your potential agent is worthwhile, because you may discover things you do not like. Better to find out now than in the middle of the selling process. It takes time and experience to become a good agent, and unfortunately, not all agents put in the work necessary to gain this experience. Some agents may have licenses, but that does not mean they are good at their job. Examine multiple real estate agents, do some asking around, and verify that your community respects the person you will be working with.

Part of selling your home is understanding the place it is part of. The geography, the community, the laws and regulations of your particular area – all of these are important factors that only a local real estate agent can fully grasp. Ideally, your agent will be a part of your community with deep relationships throughout the area. The more your agent understands the surrounding city and community, the better he or she will be at selling your house.

Online Presence
The Internet is the first place buyers go to when searching for a house. The stronger the online presence of your Realtor, the more likely your house is to be seen and considered. This does not mean simple Multiple Listing Services (MLS), either. A strong local online presence includes social networking, a personal website and an understanding of online real estate marketing. This ensures that your home is everywhere it can be, drawing in the most potential buyers and making it more competitive in the market. Additional consideration should include looking at the Realtors photography and listing descriptions they are providing current clients. Are they doing a good job? Would you consider looking at the home based on how they are being marketed? This is where you can really tell the difference between a good and lazy agent.

Word of Mouth
This goes hand in hand with reputation, but it is also an excellent way to find a good agent with all of the qualities on this list. If your friends, family or neighbors have used an agent and had a good experience, ask them to tell you about it. Knowledge is power in real estate, and you want to gather as much information as you can about agents that might work for you. Choose your REALTOR® wisely based on these questions. On many occasions, people make poor agent selections because they don't know the right questions to ask and simply base their decision on the agent’s personality, or worse yet, the value they give the seller for their property.

Connected To Other Service Providers
Selling your house involves far more than simply listing and collecting the money. Your agent should have a respectable number of connections throughout your area to help you accomplish any number of things. This includes fixing up your home before sale, landscaping, obtaining a mortgage and more. Keep in mind – if your agent only has one recommendation for each, there may be a conflict of interest occurring. A good agent will present you with several options depending on your needs, and may even have a preferred vendor list. However, he or she should not be getting any kickbacks for referrals. Recommendations should be based on what is best for you and the sale, not how much money the agent will collect from your decision.

Busy But Not Too Busy
You want a real estate agent that has a steady business selling homes. This means that he or she is in demand and is probably doing a good job. However, there is such thing as too busy. If the agent takes forever to return your calls, is rarely available to answer questions and has a tough time fitting you in for appointments, he or she may be too busy to give you the attention you need. Selling a home is tough work for everyone involved, and you need an agent that will be there for you through the entire process. The REALTOR® you are working with should be providing you with clear and concise feedback after a showing occurs. Communication skills, a track record of success, as well as other happy clients are all things that  should be a smart considerations when choosing a real estate agent.

The choice of an agent is one part logic, one part intuition. Keep these qualities in mind as you consider multiple agents, and use them to help guide your intuition in picking the perfect person for you and your home.

Bill Gassett is a nationally recognized real estate leader who has been helping people move in and out of the Metrowest Massachusetts area for the past 27-plus years. He has been one of the top RE/MAX REALTORS® in New England for the past decade. In 2013, he was the #1 RE/MAX agent in Massachusetts. Connect with him on Google+.

11 Comments so far. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. Bob Sokoler September 24, 2014 at 4:23 pm -

    I’ve also learned being in the real estate business and using real estate agents in the past that there can be a big difference when buying and selling. I know some agents that are amazing when buying and negotiating but I wouldn’t use them for selling because like you said, no internet presence and lack of technology would hurt my chances of getting my home out there. Great post!

  2. Bill Gassett October 1, 2014 at 8:57 pm -

    That is a really good point Bob and one that most consumers don’t understand. I explain this to all the sellers I interview with. How can an agent possibly do a great job working for a seller client if they are out of the office everyday showing homes? It is really hard to do both well unless you are going to work 24/7.

    Most of the time a client is best choosing an agent who specializes in a specific aspect of the business.

  3. Rossi October 10, 2014 at 3:55 pm -

    Good points Bill,
    I did an interview with Jed Carlson of AdWerx and found his comments on what he seeks in a real estate agent/broker to be of high value. He says he looks for confidence, then we discuss what confidence looks like.

    Your readers may enjoy.


    Keep Smiling,

  4. Bob McTague October 10, 2014 at 7:36 pm -

    Another great article! Most of these are valid points, however, most consumers do not know how to interview or be interviewed by an agent. Many sellers make their decision on the wrong reasons. Performance is overlooked in many cases as most consumers do not know how to measure performance. Every agent tells consumers that they have an online marketing plan, but most do not. Many consumers think they are hiring the broker/company, but we all know that it is truly the agent that markets and assists in the sale. There are too many misconceptions in real estate that need to be exposed and this article is a good start!

  5. McCarthy Estate Agents November 9, 2014 at 2:24 am -

    A comprehensive list of what clients should look for. I am particularly keyed in to the issue of locality. We are based in a town (which is little more than a village, in truth) and the majority of our clients are local. They would not dream of using estate agents in the city – which is all of FIVE miles away!!!

  6. Thomas Laurita January 20, 2015 at 5:24 pm -

    Hi Bill, really like your blog, great conversations and great information..
    Just one comment on this blog.. I am a top producing agent in New Jersey.. and I am know for not being local, but being a top agent with a broad base of knowledge of all areas, I truly do not believe to pigeon hole one self into a small market segment. People work with me because of the large areas I work with and bring them buyers from many different locations, especially from the urban areas into the suburban areas and vice, versa. Love my market..

  7. james milner April 16, 2015 at 6:24 pm -

    wow this page really helped me out! thank you! also check out this video was wonderfully useful on how to get my real estate license!!! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VGcGl8KaY_c

  8. Jade Brunet August 1, 2016 at 3:00 pm -

    My friend is selling her house and is looking to find a good real estate agent. Thank you for the provided information about the qualities that a person with this career should possess. I find that experience is an important aspect. It would also be a good idea to find someone in your budget.

  9. Jade Brunet November 28, 2016 at 4:37 pm -

    I am happy to be learning more about the qualities a good real estate agent should possess. It is good to know that finding someone local is extremely beneficial. It would be best to select someone who is familiar with the area in which they will be working.

  10. Jasper Whiteside November 28, 2016 at 7:50 pm -

    I would be interested in an online presence because the web has become one of the first places to look for real estate. The article makes a good point that if the real estate agent has a good online presence, the home they are trying to sell will be easily found. The same is true in the inverse. If the real estate agent has a good online presence, the easier it will be for you to find a house.

  11. Agent Schoen November 14, 2018 at 9:29 am -

    I really impressed you way of writing. Real estate agents are really people but we can say somehow better with their job accordingly.