How to Choose the Right Realtor

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Becoming a first-time homebuyer is an exciting step. Wherever you are in life, you’ve done the math and are ready to move to a new home you can call your own. But as you continue, it’s critical to avoid mistakes first-time homebuyers (and even seasoned buyers) commonly make, and there are a lot of subtleties to the process that are easy to overlook.

There are lots of steps to take to become a homeowner, so you probably need a Realtor — a credentialed professional with experience in the industry. They will guide you in the proper direction, steering you away from any costly errors that could strain your limited budget.

That said, you need a to pick the right one for your search. So what do you need to know to learn how to choose a Realtor?

We’ll walk you through it. With an awareness of what to look for, what to look out for, and everything in between, you can feel confident you’re getting the best deal on the best home. Choosing a Realtor can be intimidating, but there are a couple of tried-and-true tips to follow.

Learn the Lingo and Check Experience

Many homebuyers aren’t aware of the differences between a Realtor and a real estate agent, which can lead to confusion. It’s easy to clarify, as it has less to do with individual responsibilities and more to do with credentials. The professional designation of “Realtor” is a trademarked title.

Realtors have a valid license and a clean record, screened by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) before they receive their title. They adhere to a strict code of ethics and are actively engaged in full-time real estate sales. Basically, the title comes with a certain guarantee of experience and protection for you as a buyer.

You might not want a rookie real estate agent advising you on finding your own home. The expertise of a NAR-certified Realtor with a long history of helping people like you can be invaluable. That being said, these tips on how to choose the right Realtor can help you pick a real estate agent, regardless of whether they’re a certified Realtor or a greener real estate agent.

Call the Realtor’s Clients

While a Realtor might boast six, eight, ten or more years in their industry, you’ll have a deeper understanding of their ability if you reach out to their past clients. A few phone calls could save you considerable frustration down the line.

Prompt any potential Realtors or agents to email you what they’ve recently listed and sold with relevant contact info. Set aside time to speak to their past clients, posing questions about asking price and sales price. New homeowners have recently been in the same boat as you, and are likely happy to offer their input on that particular agent’s experience.

Exercise Caution (No Matter the Experience Level)

Not every real estate agent–regardless of professional credentials or certifications– is looking out for your best interests. Some are only invested in themselves, putting forth the minimal amount of effort and cutting corners where they can. This negligent attitude toward the process often reflects in disciplinary actions and complaints, which are crucial to check for.

You can learn more about Realtor through your state’s regulatory body or a simple internet search. Look long enough, and you’ll sometimes find surprising facts about a professional you would’ve otherwise trusted. Realtors maintain a higher standard of accountability than a real estate agent, but it’s always important to be cautious and do your research when dealing with such a big investment.

Know the Red Flags

In your search for a Realtor, you’ll benefit from a brief checklist of some key considerations. You’ll identify any red flags with less trouble and navigate around potential problems before they escalate into serious issues. Here are several points you’ll need to address when vetting a Realtor:

  • Are they familiar with the real estate landscape in your neighborhood of interest?
  • Do they normally work with buyers in your price range, or buyers outside of it?
  • Do they usually handle the type of property you’re interested in, or something niche?

No two Realtors are alike. They have to meet your specific needs, with relevant experience which lends itself to your unique situation. To make a thorough assessment of their value, the next item on this list is indispensable, and likely something you’ve already thought of.

Hold Interviews with Potential Realtors

To trust your Realtor, you need to establish a dialogue. It’s the first step in the relationship, and getting off on the right foot is important. With this in mind, schedule interviews with three or four Realtors to decide which of them you’d like to work with, preparing your questions in advance.

These interviews are an excellent opportunity to attend to some of the items above. You can ask how long the Realtor has worked in the industry, their success with past clients, areas of focus and other details. Take careful notes and listen closely, using the info you gather for later comparisons.

Choosing a Realtor

You’ve probably scrimped and saved to make this goal a reality, and you need a real estate professional who can negotiate the best price for that home. A Realtor can make the process simple and straightforward, as long as they’re the right Realtor.

And once your Realtor has helped you land the perfect home, give yourself a break. It’s easy to find help you can trust with Dolly — our Helpers can make the moving process run smoothly, so first-time homebuyers don’t need to break a sweat.

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