How to Choose the Best Real Estate Agent When Buying a Home in California

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A recent study performed by Property Records of California found that more than half of all recent home buyers found their home through the internet on a listing site like realtor.com®, Zillow, or other local sites. Nearly 9 in 10 of these homebuyers purchased their home through a real estate agent, with very few home buyers or sellers feeling confident enough to go at the current real estate market alone. Whether you’re buying or selling a home, the process is emotional. When you’re emotional, you want to experience on your side the experience of a trusted professional who has done this before and with success. If that sounds like you, it would be best to connect with a real estate agent. But how do you do that?

Asking your Network for Recommendations

When you do a basic Google search for “realtor in my area,” hundreds, if not thousands, of results will populate. Sorting through the myriads of agents appearing on your screen makes the decision even more overwhelming. One thing you can do to make this important task a little less overwhelming is to ask for help. Ask your friends, family, coworkers, and neighbors who they used as a realtor. If the same name keeps popping up, you should reach out to those agents. A good reputation among your immediate acquaintances means that this realtor is the real deal.

Finding an Agent that You Click With

You will be working with this agent for months and want to make sure they understand you, your needs, and your homeownership goals. Interviewing your top choices and thoughtfully weighing out the pros and cons of each agent is a wise course of action. You want to be confident in your selection of an agent and not make a choice solely on family relations, friendship, or acquaintanceship. Building a solid connection makes the transaction process that much more efficient.

The Difference Between a Part-time and FullTime Agent

Working with a part-time agent is just that – they only work in the real estate industry part-time. This could be their side hustle, second job, or weekend hobby. This doesn’t mean they are any less knowledgeable; it just means they are not always available for you midday phone calls or last-minute showings – that is something to consider if you’re in a time crunch to make a move. On the other hand, a full-time agent has made the real estate industry their career. They go into an office almost daily, work on real estate-related projects, and typically do not have another source of income. This makes this type of agent much more available to you as a client.

Questions to Ask as a Buyer

During this unstable market, buying a home, let alone your first home, might seem like an unattainable or unrealistic goal. You will want to be sure that the agent you select is experienced in working with sellers during these trying times. Some questions you might want to consider asking your potential agent would be the following:

  • How long have you been in the real estate business?
  • Do you usually work with buyers?
  • How many active clients do you currently have?
  • What areas do you work in?
  • Will I be in direct contact with you, or will I connect with your team?
  • Are you familiar with the neighborhood I am looking at moving to?
  • How have you helped other buyers improve their chances of getting a home in the past two years?

While this is just a shortlist of questions you might want to ask a potential agent as a buyer, you can always ask more. It can’t be mentioned enough that your real estate agent has worked closely with you for months. They become your friend and know your interests, likes, dislikes, and your financial standing. You want to get along with them as a buyer.

Questions to Ask as a Seller

Possibly even more important than choosing the right agent to help you purchase a home is choosing an agent to sell your current home. When selling your home, you want to position yourself and your property in the best possible light. This means getting the most money you can for your home and having your home marketed to the public in the best possible way. What questions should you ask a selling or listing agent before signing on the dotted line?

  • How many transactions do you complete on average per year?
  • What is your marketing plan for my property?
  • Do you offer professional staging and photography?
  • Do you advertise my home both digitally and in print?
  • Are you familiar with the neighborhood or town?
  • Do you coordinate showings and open houses?
  • Will I be working directly with you or with one of your team members?
  • What do you think my home is worth on the low end and the high end?

Getting the answers to those vital questions, plus whatever individual questions you might have, will give you a good idea if this agent is right for you to work with.

Concluding Thoughts and Best of Luck

When looking for an agent, the best thing you can do is research. Interview at least two to three agents, and choose the one that aligns the most with your goals and personality. Set your communication preferences and expectations up in the beginning. Whether this is communications by email, text, or phone call, having these clear guidelines in place before getting into the thick of a transaction will eliminate stress and frustration. Be open and honest with your agent as to why you are looking to buy or sell. Being honest helps your agent move you towards your goal faster with fewer bumps in the road. Above all, make sure that the agent you have selected has substantial knowledge and connections in the industry.

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