Finding the Right Agent
The best agent for you depends on how you plan to use that agent. Even if you're in the market to buy, a seller's agent might be the best choice if you don't need advice and like to handle the bulk of transactions by yourself. You simply need an agent to submit offers to sellers with listed properties. There's no reason not to use a seller's agent if you feel comfortable proceeding on your own, developing contract contingencies and time frames and determining the best price to offer for a property.
If you'd like a little more help, a buyer's agent can provide it. If you plan to buy and sell real estate, you should find an agent who excels in both areas.
Calling the agent on the “For Sale” sign puts you in touch with the seller's agent — not someone who's going to help you get the best price on a property. That's fine. You may not need any help — just make sure you don't tell the agent anything you wouldn't want the seller to hear.
If you know you'll use an agent periodically, you might want to start browsing the field to find one who clicks with your personality. It could take you awhile to find someone you trust, so start looking now. Here are a few tips to get you started:
Ask your friends if they had a good experience working with particular agents on selling and buying properties.
Pick up homes-for-sale publications and pay attention to the listings and marketing methods of individual agents and agencies.
Surf the Internet to compare local real-estate agent Web sites or to find an agent in another area.
Search for key phrases about your town on popular Internet search engines to find out which agencies in your area rank highest.
Interview agents. Pay attention to each agent's enthusiasm and knowledge of the real-estate market.
View properties with an agent without signing an agreement. Spending a few hours with an agent will reveal a great deal about her personality and motivations.
Take note of each agent's interest and degree of involvement. Did the agent follow up with you after the appointment to suggest other properties?
A brand-new agent can be just as effective as a seasoned pro. They're enthusiastic, they need the business, and since they're working with fewer clients, they often provide excellent customer service for each one.
There's no best way to find a great agent — it can take time, or it can happen on your first try. Sometimes you just have to go with your gut instinct to decide if an agent is the “right” one for you.