Buying a Home? Here’s How To Hire the Best Realtor

Ben Kissam
Written by Ben Kissam
Updated March 4, 2022
Real estate agent greeting clients in new home
Photo: Hello Lovely / Tetra images / Getty Images

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Did you know that there are more than three million active real estate licensees in the U.S.? Such a bounty of realtors offer plenty of choices for a prospective home buyer or seller, but it can also make it difficult to narrow down your options. 

The key to hiring the best realtor is to assess your situation and try to match a professional to your goals. Along the way, asking the right questions will help you, too. Let’s take a look at this guide to finding and hiring the best realtor.

How to Find the Best Realtor

Generally speaking, the best way to find a great realtor is through personal and professional referrals. Fortunately, people love to talk about good experiences with realtors. When someone goes above and beyond for a home sale, homeowners are usually more than happy to pass the realtor’s name along—or to let you know who is a bad realtor to stay away from.

If you’re moving to a new area, look for realtors recommendations on community social media pages. You can make a post asking for realtor referrals or dig through previous posts to find frequently mentioned real estate professionals. You can also conduct online research to find local realtors with many positive reviews and homeowner testimonials. 

Before Hiring a Realtor

Here are some steps to consider before signing on the dotted line with a real estate agent.

Determine What You’re Looking for in a Realtor 

The best way to find the realtor of your dreams is to figure out exactly what you want them to do. Take some time to reflect on your goals for a realtor, including:

  • Your desired area for a new home

  • Their number of years of experience

  • Their realtor fees 

  • Your timeline for buying and selling

  • Their current availability

  • Their process for open houses

Write down these points to help create an ideal avatar of the pro you want to hire. Keep in mind there’s a good chance some realtors won’t want to work with you. That isn’t a slight, but real estate agents often specialize or prefer to work with a specific type of client. Finding a good match is a two-way street. 

Understand the Realtor-Client Relationship

When you sign a contract with a realtor or agency, you’re agreeing to work with them based on the terms outlined. Be sure to ask any outstanding questions about each party’s responsibilities before signing paperwork.

Some questions you need to ask a realtor before signing contracts include:

  • Their realtor fees and commission 

  • Their preferred method of contact during the day and evening

  • How long the realtor expects to work together

  • Responsibilities during the home closing process

If you’re working with a large real estate team, ensure you know whether you’ll be working with one realtor, a dual agency, or with an entire staff.

4 Tips for Hiring a Realtor 

Here are a few final strategies to consider as you narrow down your list of potential realtor candidates.

1. Hire Local When Possible

National realty companies are popular, but someone who knows the area you’re trying to move to can offer the type of personalized and informed service that brand-name competitors can’t. Those “diamond in the rough” properties tend to be known only by locals, or at least someone who’s worked in the area for a long time.

If you’re hoping to score a home in a certain neighborhood, research the names of realtors who have recently closed on homes in that area. This extra step ensures that the local realtor has a working knowledge of how to close a deal on that type of property.

2. Meet In Person

Couple meeting at the office with real estate agent
Photo: kate_sept2004 / E+ / Getty Images

While modern technology makes it convenient to meet a realtor virtually, there’s something about meeting someone face-to-face to help you decide if they’re the right person for the job.

When you get together, take on the role of the interviewer. It may feel strange, but realtors mostly expect it. They are campaigning for your business, so they’ll likely come ready to answer your questions. Prepare some talking points that are relevant to your home search or home sale, such as how many homes they’ve sold in the past year.

If you’re moving across the country and can’t meet your real estate team in person, don’t sweat it. While in-person interactions are ideal, you can likely find a realtor who is available to video chat when needed.

3. Shop Around for Realtors

Say you found someone you like, or at least think would do a good job. You’re done with the realtor search, right?

Not so fast. Remember that realtors are campaigning for you to hire them. It’s worth it to meet with at least three candidates to determine which realtor will be the best fit for your job. You may learn something about what you were looking for that you didn’t think of by simply increasing the pool of candidates.

4. Let Your Gut Be Your Guide

Ultimately, there’s no perfect process for hiring a realtor. However, it’s important to trust your basic instincts for deciding whether you’ll enjoy working with someone closely for this important task. If a potential candidate seems untrustworthy or isn’t a good fit, thank them for their time and move on.

After Your Realtor Has Finished

After the hard work of finding a buyer for your home or landing the perfect new home, it all comes down to the closing. Ensure that your realtor prepares you for the nuances of a home closing, and double check that your paperwork is complete.

At closing, your realtor will receive their commission fee for their work. Say thanks for all their help and leave them a review online if applicable. After all, you’ll be helping other future homeowners who are in the same position you were.

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