How To Find A Realtor (For First Time Home Buyers)

Certified Mortgage Advisor
NMLS 1701021
Published 
January 15, 2020

Is finding a good realtor difficult?

Let's talk about how do you find a realtor? Not just a regular realtor. But how do you find a good realtor? Who's going to help you through purchasing a home or selling a home. And a little tip here you're going to learn is it's not by finding the ones on Zillow. A lot of people go there.

I'm going to show you how to actually find a good realtor and one that's going to stick with you and represent you well. If you use a bad realtor, they're not going to help you out very much.

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Getting Pre-qualified

Number one, let's talk first about if you're going to speak with a realtor or real estate agent, we're going to use these interchangeably. The first thing you need to do is you need to get pre-qualified. And the reason why is because a good realtor is most likely working with a good amount of clients and they want to make sure that their clients can purchase a home.

Good realtors wan to see a pre-qualified letter

So most of the time they want to see a pre-qualification or a pre-approval letter. So before you find a realtor, make sure you have a lender that you're working with. That way you have that prequalification ready, how much you can shop for, what your numbers are, that way you can hand it to the realtor and say, Hey, we're serious about buying. If you find a realtor who isn't asking for this kind of letter, then they probably don't do a lot of business because they're willing to just go out and show houses too.

They want to make sure that you're able to actually move forward. They don't want to go show a bunch of houses and then you go and talk to a realtor, or then you go and talk to a lender, and then you can't afford any of those houses. It was a waste of time for everybody there. So get pre-qualified first.

Look for good recommendations

After that, you want to ask some friends for some good recommendations. So ask around you most likely have friends who have worked with a real estate agent in the past, ask them about their experience. What was it like to go through a purchase or a sale with that agent? What are some things that agents did that they thought were outstanding or out of the norm?

What was the communication style? Most of the time I see a breakdown between clients and the realtors that they work within the communication style. So make sure that your realtor, if you're getting a recommendation from a friend that communication style works for you and not just for your friend, because maybe your friend is more laid back than you are, or maybe your friend is more high strung than you are.

Look for a realtor that will stick with you

You want to find a realtor who can work with you. Over a long period of time, when you're purchasing, you're going to be looking at anywhere from maybe four weeks to upwards of maybe 12 plus weeks of looking, shopping for a home, and then closing on a deal.

No double agents, please!

People are going to have different opinions on it. But I'm gonna suggest you don't use a dual agent. So what happens often when people are purchasing, they start with an online search. So you're on Zillow or you're on realtor.com or you're on some real estate searching website and you're searching for different homes.

And then you see a property that you like, and so you want to call the agent to schedule. Then, you go and see the property with that agent. After that, the agent wants to represent you as a buyer's agent. So if you're just going with the agent, who's the first one you called on Zillow, then you did not do any due diligence to figure out if this is a good agent or not. You just called the first number that came across your screen.

Don't think that agents are expendables

Agents are not just people who were there to just write a contract and open the door. They are legally representing you throughout the process. They're going to make sure that you're protected, and that your best interests are in mind. So you need to do a little bit more research than just calling the first phone number that you see.

Dual agents

Also, you don't want a dual agent. So a dual agent is where the agent represents the seller and they represent you as the buyer. It makes it very difficult to have a strong negotiation when you the seller, then you as the buyer have different interests and the agent is in the middle, trying to have some sort of barrier.

And what's really difficult is it's hard to be an independent third-party and represent both the buyer and the seller because they both want different things from each other. And the agent has to manage what that looks like. So ideally you need to have your own agent and the seller needs to have their own agent and your agents will be the ones who negotiate on your behalf.

Interview agents

You want to interview agents, but don't lead agents on. This happens all of the time. So for instance, I work as a mortgage broker, so people will talk me and they might talk to a credit union and then they might talk to their bank and look at interviewing different loan officers. And if so, that's fine.

Don't steal if you don't want others to steal anything from you

But the thing that always the worst is when people just to go steal. It's the same thing with agents. You don't want it to happen to you, don't do it to other people, let them know. Hey, I'm looking to interview a couple of agents, you're on my list, and then what you need to do is set up a short timeframe that you're going to be interviewing some different agents. So you can say, Hey, I'm interviewing a couple other agents this week I'll let you know on Friday which agent I decided to go with.

Tell them to stop but in a nice way

And the best way to get other agents to stop calling you is to let them know that you're working with somebody. This happens a lot if you're on real estate searching websites, where they ask you to put in information, those real estate websites sell that information to realtors. So if you put your information on a property, you're probably going to get a lot of realtors who call you.

So instead of just ignoring their calls and they're going to keep calling because they're trying to do their job, just say, pick up the phone and say, Hey, thanks so much. But I do have another agent I'm working with. I appreciate your time. That's it.

That way you can end some of those phone calls and make sure that you're treating people ethically, nobody wants to spend time trying to see if they can help you. And then they don't hear back. Absolutely interview agents interview a couple of them. See which ones have communication styles that you like see a marketing strategies that they're using. See negotiation skills that they have, and then let them know professionally if you will, or will not use them in the future.

Online reviews

Now there are fantastic agents out there who have zero online presence. Honestly, at this point, though, it feels if you're going to be competitive in this environment in a real estate environment that is moving increasingly technological, you need to have an online presence.

Do your own research, look for reviews

So if you find an agent, do a quick Google search of their name, okay. If they don't come up in a search. Then it's going to, you can almost argue a case of if their own name can't show up in a search result. How can if you're selling a house, how can that house show up in a search result? Or how could they be able to help negotiate if they don't have a history or an online track record of that success?

So look for online reviews and places like Zillow, Facebook, Google, and then also see what those reviews say about the communication style, the agent things that the agent did that was outstanding to their past clients, and then read through, does that agent have a bio, do they have a Facebook status that you can look through trying to get as much information as you can online because the agent should have a solid online presence that communicates how they're there to help you.

Trust your gut

Really you're going to have to trust your gut and a lot of these decisions. And the reason why is because you want to be comfortable with the agent that you're working with buying and selling a house can be stressful. Even if everything goes super smoothly, it can be a stressful process just because real estate in of itself is stressful.

You're moving maybe different cities, different states, you might be changing jobs, a sellers also doing the same thing. Everything's trying to get coordinated and it can be difficult. So you need to find an agent that clicks with you. And this is where the interviewing process helps. Because on paper they might be a fantastic agent, but they might not work well with what you are looking for. If you're looking for an agent, who's very, hands-on, who's very tech savvy. Who's going to do video walkthroughs and things like that. You might find an agent for that, but some other agents that you might interview might be incredible agents, but aren't on that speed. And if so, that's okay. That's where you have the interview process.

Ask questions to get good answers

Also a good way, a good little secret to find which agents are going to work well with you is to ask questions. There are no bad questions in real estate. You're only going to buy and sell a few times in your life where agents have been doing probably as many homes as you will buy and sell in your lifetime over the past month.

So ask questions. You want to find an agent who has the heart of. Somebody who is comfortable with you asking questions, doesn't want to shut you down and doesn't turn you away because you ask questions and find the ones who go out of their way to make sure that you're comfortable with everything happening and that you understand each step of the process.

A good agent is not always experienced

Finally, experience is not the ultimate indicator of a good agent. Sometimes it's a little reversed. So you'll see agents who are out there who are saying I've been a realtor for me 97 years or however long I'm 97. It's obviously ridiculous. But yes, that's not an indicator of how good an agent is.

Look for an agent who has heart of a teacher

I see agents all the time who don't do a lot of business or who aren't very ethical as agents saying, they'd been in the business for 30 some years, and that's why you should use them. It's not a very good indicator of a good agent, because all that saying is, look at me, look how good I am as an agent, instead of how can I help solve your problems.

You want to find that agent who has the heart of a teacher, and understand that there's a balance between having experienced a little bit of experience is good. But if all they can harp on is their experience and how long they've been in the industry and not how much they've helped people, then that kind of puts up a little bit of some red flags.

So overall, this should give you a good roadmap of how to find a good realtor. One of the best ways really is to find recommendations from friends, interview a couple of different agents, maybe find some online, some from friends, and then see the ones that have a heart of a teacher. See the ones that have a good online presence, who you feel like in your head. It's going to represent you well, and you're going to have a fun time with that agent through the entire process.

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Only for educational usage. All calculations should be verified independently. Win The House You Love LLC is not a lender, does not issue loan qualifications, and does not extend credit of any kind. This is not an offer to lend and should not be used to make decisions on home offers, purchasing decisions, nor loan selections. Not guaranteed to provide accurate results, imply lending terms, qualification amounts, nor real estate advice. Seek counsel from a licensed real estate agent, loan originator, financial planner, accountant, and/or attorney for real estate and/or financial advice. Read the full disclaimer here.