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How to Choose the Right Realtor

ZipRealty makes it easy for you to evaluate local real estate agents

Choosing the right Realtor is an important first step in the home buying process. ZipRealty wants to make it easy for you to evaluate local real estate agents, determine which ones might best serve your needs, and connect with them online. When you’re ready, the agent you’ve selected will be happy to start working with you in person and through ZipRealty’s “always-on” communication systems.

Get Started by Reading Online Reviews

  • Check the list of real estate agents in your area, and start learning about their local knowledge, individual experience and professional expertise by viewing their detailed online profiles.
  • Read ratings and reviews written by prior and current clients for even more insight into agents’ skills and strengths and what level of service they provide. Pay attention to what sorts of clients they serve and what areas they specialize in. Reviews by clients will help you figure out who you will work best with.
  • If you are having a hard time choosing an agent, interview the agents that appear to best fit your needs and interests. Personality isn’t everything, but you’ll be working with your agent for a few months, so choose someone you feel you communicate well with.

Buyer’s Agents versus Seller’s Agents

What is the difference between a buyer's agent and a seller's agent?
Most states have what is called a buyer's agent – a real estate agent that is “hired” by the buyer to help you find the right home at the best price and to manage the transaction process with you all the way through to a successful closing. Keep in mind that “hiring” a buyer’s agent only means that this agent is working for you, the buyer – you won’t actually pay them anything, even when they help you find and buy the house of your dreams.

A seller's agent, often referred to as the listing agent, is a real estate agent hired by the seller to market and sell their home. The main goal of a seller's agent is to sell the seller's home at the highest price possible and in the shortest amount of time.

Read more about the difference between a buyer’s and seller’s agent on our blog.

Why work with a buyer’s agent instead of a seller’s agent?
You want someone who will work for your best interest, and that’s why hiring a buyer’s agent might be the best route for you to take. A seller’s agent might seek to represent both the seller and the buyer, claiming that they can provide an “inside track” for the buyer. However, there is a natural conflict of interest in this dual-sided agent relationship – how can an agent working on both sides of a single transaction seek the highest possible price for the seller client and, at the same time, negotiate for the most reasonable price for you, the buyer? The choice is up to you, but most buyers choose to work with a buyer’s agent for this reason.

Experienced Agents versus Newer Agents

Is the most seasoned agent always the best choice?
When you’re choosing your real estate agent, experience counts, but it’s not the only factor to consider. Even if an agent is relatively new to real estate, they might have the right background, the right local expertise, or the right personality and negotiating skills to help you win the home you love. You’re looking for someone you can trust, someone who knows the neighborhood as well as the residents, someone who is comfortable with the offer process, and who will respond to your questions and guide you through the home buying process. Think carefully before just blindly opting for the longest tenured agent – the important thing is that you work with the real estate agent that’s right for you.

Real Estate Agent versus REALTOR®

Broker, agent, REALTOR® – what’s the difference and why all the terminology?
A broker is a real estate agent who has a broker license. A real estate agent is someone who has a real estate license, and a REALTOR® is someone who belongs to the National Association of REALTORs® (NAR). Agents and brokers who are REALTORS® agree to adhere to a strict code of ethics and professional standards of practice, both of which are updated annually to incorporate the most important current issues in real estate law and practice. In most cases, finding a licensed real estate professional who has the knowledge and ability to serve your needs and who will work with you on your terms is more important than worrying about the titles and association memberships.

Read more about the difference between a buyer’s and seller’s agent on our blog.

Working with a Realtor

Your goal is to work with a real estate agent who is knowledgeable, friendly and hardworking and who values your time as much as you do – that means an agent who returns your calls quickly, answers your questions candidly and accurately, and when you’re ready to move forward, they’re ready, too. Ideally, your agent is thinking about you and your house search even when you’re not on the phone or in the field with them. On ZipRealty.com, your agent is plugged into your home search experience from the time you create a customized search to when they’re handing you the keys.

Finding the right house requires persistence and attention, by both you and your agent. Here are some of the basic steps in the home buying process that you and your agent will discuss and complete:

  • Figure out what kind of home you’re looking for – property type/style, location, and price range.
  • Work together with your agent to prepare an offer to purchase the home you love.
  • Allow your agent to negotiate on your behalf with the seller or seller’s agent after the offer is presented.
  • Arrange all necessary inspections with the title company, the lender, and the seller or seller's agent.
  • Review and discuss the inspection report together, and allow your agent to negotiate with the seller or seller’s agent for any repairs to the home.
  • Let your agent serve as your “point person” to make sure the closing process goes smoothly and all contracts and addendums are prepared and completed.
  • Get the keys from your agent and move in!

Connect with a Realtor