Choosing a Realtor to work with can be quite a daunting task. If you are not sure what to look for or what questions to ask then you could find yourself in a rather precarious position. I hate to hear stories of past dealings with Realtors that are essentially a disgrace to the profession, and quite frankly give us all a bad name.
I pride myself on being the best East Tennessee Realtor that I know how to be and to provide the best customer service that I know how to provide. I have put together a list of the Top 5 Tips for Choosing a Realtor that is right for you. This isn't an end all of bullet points but these should help you find a top notch Realtor in your area.
1) Check Licensing
It is very unlikely that many people actually do this, but you should. Every state has boards. Check with the board to see if their license is current and in good standing. The board is also the place where any/all grievances are filed. You can also check to see if any discipline has been administered to said agent. Just because someone portrays themselves as a professional licensed Realtor doesn't actually meant that that is what you're getting.
2) Length of Service
Ask the Realtor how long he/she has been actively (very important) in the business. Typically, not always, you would like to have a more seasoned agent. One with at least 5 years or doing real estate FULL TIME. Now this is not to say that there aren't great agents that have been in real estate for only 3 years, there are, I used to be one. Just do your due diligence and make sure that you are comfortable with your pick.
There are 2 ways to check this. If the agent does not have a strong internet presence or no presence at all, ask for the names and numbers of past clients. Ideally they are clients from less than a year but no more than 2 years old. Again, check the board that they belong to and see if any complaints have been filed.
The second way is online. In this day and age everything is available to you on the internet. This holds true for reviews and customer satisfaction also. And you can find it pretty quick. Do a Google search of the agent's name. You should be able to find anything about them. Many people will post reviews on Google Local if the agent is listed with them, Angie's List, Reach150, Yahoo, etc. If there is something bad to find, this is how you will find it.
4) Response Time
If the top 3 tips have checked out so far then odds are this item will check out just fine too, usually. Email and phone communication will be how you interact with your Realtor 95% of the time. So pick up the phone and call them. How is the conversation? Do they seem interested and attentive to what you are saying? Ask questions. Questions about the market, the area, their business, etc, etc. A busy agent may not answer the phone on the first call so leave a message, a detailed message. How long did it take to call you back? It should definitely be the same day, or worst case the next morning. The same rule applies to email. Actually, email response should be even faster.
5) Work Full Time
Depending on who you are, this particular tip could be ranked anywhere in the top 5 for importance. You want an agent that works real estate FULL TIME. This is a strong indicator of success. The last 3-5 years have been very difficult across the country for Realtors in all markets. Many have hung it up or taken on other full time jobs. If a Realtor has been able to endure the market and continue working real estate full time then he/she knows what they are doing, and probably does it well. I work real estate full time and have no idea how someone could work a full time job somewhere else and still do real estate part time. That is if their objective is to become successful in real estate.
I pride myself in trying to be great in each one of these areas. It is something that means a great deal to me. If you are looking to sell or buy real estate in East Tennessee please do not hesitate to contact me, after checking me out of course.