How to Confidently Choose a Real Estate Agent to Work With

How to Confidently Choose a Real Estate Agent to Work With

  • Allison Salzer
  • 01/8/23

Whether you’re a first-time buyer, a seasoned investor, or trying to sell your Mill Valley real estate, finding an experienced real estate agent to work with is a must. A well-qualified agent will help you navigate the real estate world, mitigate stress, aid in making wise decisions, and help you avoid costly mistakes. While an agent will assist with the bulk of the buying or selling process, it will be your job to research, ask questions, seek out referrals, and consider all factors when choosing the right candidate for the job. Before we dive into those factors and questions, let’s review some real estate basics.

How do Realtors® and real estate agents differ?

Both Realtors® and real estate agents help people buy and sell residential homes, among other forms of real estate, including commercial, industrial, and land. All real estate agents must follow their country and state’s laws and must obtain a license to sell and buy property, regardless of the type. Realtors® are members of the National Association of Realtors (NAR), which means they work within a specific set of guidelines and a code of ethics.

What do real estate agents do?

Realtors® and real estate agents typically have specialties; some may only sell homes while others may only buy homes. The type of agent you choose depends on your objective. A seller’s agent helps sellers in pricing, listing, marketing, and negotiating home sales with buyers. A buyer’s agent assists buyers with finding Mill Valley homes for sale, making competitive offers, and negotiating with sellers. Either way, real estate agents are knowledgeable professionals who guide you through each step and provide referrals to lenders, appraisers, inspections, and attorneys. Their wealth of knowledge is of utmost importance when conducting real estate sales and purchases, so do your due diligence when researching and getting referrals before choosing a Realtor®.

Ask for referrals

Photo courtesy of Unsplash
There is a good chance that a relative, friend, or colleague recently bought or sold a Mill Valley home. We often turn to loved ones for recommendations for a myriad of needs, so why not ask them about their experience with their Realtor®? While a personal recommendation from someone you know and trust is invaluable, be prepared to ask them about the agent they worked with. Questions for buyers can include:

  • Did you stay within your budget?
  • How well did the property match your requirements?
  • What is their communication style, and did they adjust it to suit your style?
  • Were you the only client working with them during your home purchase?
  • Do they live in the area?
If you’re selling a home, ask these questions:
  • Are you happy with your real estate transaction? Any complaints?
  • How did they price your home? Did it require a lot of negotiation?
  • Did they advocate on your behalf?
  • What was the home showing process like? Was it stressful for you, or did they help make it a stress-free process?
  • What is their communication style, and did they adjust it to suit your style?

Scope the area for “for sale” signs

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock
If you have leisure time, drive or walk around Mill Valley and take note of For Sale signs. Additionally, you can wander into an open house and see how the agent engages with prospective buyers to see whether you’d like to work with them. Interacting with them in person gives you an idea of their demeanor and professionalism.

Meet with several contenders

Once you’ve done a thorough internet search, checked your neighborhood for real estate signs, and gotten some referrals from close friends, it’s time to meet with the contenders. It’s essential not to settle for the first agent you meet. This person will be your closest confidant throughout your real estate transaction, so choosing wisely is crucial. Treat it like a job interview, asking a series of questions to ensure they meet your needs.
Photo courtesy of Pexels
If you’re buying a home, your questions might include:

  • How long have you worked in real estate?
  • Is your real estate license up to date?
  • What is your asking commission?
  • How many sales/purchases have you completed throughout your career?
  • What is your specialty? 
  • Do you work independently or with a team?
  • What is the best way to contact you?
  • What is your availability?
  • How many clients do you work with simultaneously? (This is vital because you want to ensure they have enough time to dedicate to your home purchase or sale.)
  • Do you have any clients I can call? (Looking at client testimonials is helpful — speaking with one on the phone is priceless.)
If you’re selling a home, ask these questions:

  • How much experience do you have selling residential property? (A good benchmark for an experienced professional is someone with at least five years of experience selling homes in Mill Valley.)

  • How many Mill Valley homes have you sold in the past year?

  • What are your marketing tactics? Working with a Realtor® who utilizes many resources, including their website, the MLS, paper brochures, and more is vital.

  • Who else do you partner with when selling homes? (Exceptional agents work within a network of professionals, including mortgage brokers, attorneys, and more.)

  • How many buyers are you currently helping? Make sure they have time for your home sale.
If you’re in the market to sell or buy real estate in Marin County, contact Allison Salzer to guide you successfully through the process. 

*Header photo courtesy of Pexels

Work With Allison

Allison’s passion in real estate stemmed from her father who was an architect, and from her mother who earned the title of Entrepreneur of the Year. Allison loves to find art in architecture, and get the deal done. Her talent is to find value and see how to transform properties into a wonderful space to live.