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Your Real Estate Agent: How to Pick Your New Best Friend

By Eleanor Boschert

Picking a real estate agent is one of the most important parts of the home buying process. They will help strategically advise you, guide you, and negotiate for you while you are in the throes of the most expensive transaction of your life. Let MassRealty help you locate an agent and offer you tips on how to engage the right agent for you.

Where to begin?

Ask around. Friends and family can recommend an agent they know and trust. One they've had success with themselves. This narrows the field dramatically, but keep in mind their specifications for price, style, and location may be different than yours. Follow-up either way ? meet with them and check out their qualifications and reputation.

You can also find the right real estate professional for you at MassRealty. Research agents, their backgrounds, qualifications, and specialties. Then conduct due diligence ? just as you would with any industry professional you are looking to hire. Keep in mind whether you are looking to buy or sell your home. That will determine if you need an agent to help you navigate the buying or selling process. Beware of dual representation. It only makes sense that your agent should work for you, and you alone.

Agent, Broker, or Realtor?

While all three types of real estate professionals are licensed and authorized to conduct real estate transactions, there are different degrees of qualifications. An agent is licensed by the state to advise you on real estate issues and handle transactions. A broker is their own boss, owning their own agency and overseeing agents. They complete a higher level of real estate education, and are held to a higher standard of responsibility. A realtor is officially licensed by the National Association off Realtors and is expected to maintain a higher level of knowledge of the process of buying and selling real estate.

National Agency, Local Agency?

Either. A national real estate franchise will have a team of players and resources for marketing, networking, and servicing. Yet, that doesn't necessarily give you an advantage over a local outfit. A smaller local agency may be more experienced in the ins and outs of the local market and can rely on their network to give you a more personal experience.

How to Choose a Real Estate Professional

The right real estate professional for you is one that knowledgeable in all aspects of the complex real estate transaction process, yet is qualified to meet your specific home buying needs. And, they need to be someone you trust and are able to build a good relationship with. You will be spending many hours with this person, so you better work well with them!

To get a better idea of who you are looking for, consider these factors:

  • How well do they know the marketplace and current trends?
  • Do they have working relationships with other industry professionals such as attorneys, contractors, lenders, brokers, etc.
  • Do they have previous client references or online agent reviews, ratings?
  • Are they in good standing with the state licensing office and local real estate association?
  • How long have they been in business? Is this a career or hobby?
  • What is their track record of sales?
  • What is their current roster of listings?
  • Do they listen to you? Understand your specific needs? Help you distinguish between what you want vs. what you can realistically afford?
  • Are they patient, accessible? Do they explain the process?
  • How well can they help you navigate the system, MLS?
  • What is their specific area of expertise and does it match what you are looking to buy?

Remember, you are hiring an agent for a life-changing financial transaction. They need to be able to work with you and garner the best deal on your behalf. In the end, be open and honest about your specific needs and what you expect from your agent. A good one, will in turn, provide you the same level of honesty and professionalism.

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