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Educational Consumer Tips

Real Estate

Author: Rachel Gelb
Category: Service

Whether you are buying or selling property, a real estate agent or realtor can assist in either side of the sale. Buying and selling a home is a major decision and it is beneficial to hire someone who is familiar with the housing market and the process. When hiring an agent or realtor, it is imperative to find someone that has your best interest in mind. Use these tips as a guide when hiring an agent or realtor.  

Tips For Hiring a Real Estate Agent or Realtor:

Ask for Referrals.  Ask friends and family members who have recently bought or sold their home for recommendations. Ask if they were satisfied with their experience and if they would use the agent or company in the future.  Be sure to ask if there are agents or companies to avoid. Look for residential agents and companies in the area so they will be knowledgeable about the neighborhood and the community. Whether you are buying or selling a home, look for an exclusive agent based on your role. This way the agent can act in your best interest for the sale.

Interview Candidates.  Once you have assembled at least four prospective agents, schedule a time to meet with them in person. If you are selling your home, each agent will make a listing presentation. This presentation allows you to become familiar with their background, marketing plan, and market analysis which includes information about similar houses in your area that have recently sold. Make sure to find out how long the agent has been practicing, how long they have been with their company, and if they work full or part time. Be sure to ask if the agent or company is a member of the Multiple Listing Service (MLS). MLS is an online registry of properties on the market from all over the country.

Request References.  Ask the agent to provide a list of references who have previously used their services to buy or sell similar types of properties. Ask the references about their experience with the agent or realtor. This will give you an idea if the agent or company suits your needs.

Ask if They are an Agent or Realtor.  A real estate agent is required to take real estate courses and pass a licensing exam before practicing.  Every realtor has taken the same courses and passed the same exam, but a realtor who is a member of the National Association of Realtors (NAR) is recommended. Members of the NAR are held to a specific code of ethics while practicing real estate.

Discuss Compensation.  Usually agents and realtors are compensated through commission. The commission fee is usually 5 to 7 percent of the selling price, but it can vary from area to area. The percentage of the commission fee can sometimes be negotiated depending on the housing market. The agent receives commission regardless of who finds the buyer, but receives no commission if the property doesn't sell. The commission is usually divided between the agent and their broker.  

Carefully Read the Contract.  Be wary of agents who pressure you to sign documents immediately. Carefully and completely read the documents and make sure the agent clearly answers any of your questions. If you are selling your home, usually you sign a contract granting the agent exclusive rights to sell your property within a period of time. Make sure to ask about the length of that period of time.  

About the Author: Rachel Gelb is Communications and Marketing Manager for BBB serving Eastern Massachusetts, Maine, Rhode Island and Vermont. Find Rachel on Google +.

Questions and Comments

Comment Submitted 7/7/2014

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