How to find a real estate agent

How to find a real estate agent
November 02, 2021 | Amanda Hargrove

Finding your dream home is a big job—and so is selling it once new dreams take shape. Whether you are buying or selling, the right real estate agent will give you the tools you need to navigate your local market, stay ahead in negotiations and minimize stress.

So, how do you succeed in the search for a real estate agent? Here are a few tips that will help you in your search.

Know the lingo

Real estate agents can help support the process of buying or selling your home from start to finish—from finding or listing a property, to recommending other service providers you’ll need to call on, like home inspectors.

If you are buying, you’ll work with a buyer’s agent to scout out home listings, make offers and navigate negotiations. If you’re selling, you’ll work with a listing agent to name your price, market your property and negotiate. A dual agent works on behalf of both buyer and seller.

Start searching now

The more lead time, the better. Your agent plays an important role in your selling or buying journey, so give yourself at least a month to identify the right partner.

Look within your network

Have friends or colleagues recently sold or bought a home—and loved their agent? Prioritize referrals from contacts with situations like yours. For example, first-time buyers might talk to friends who’ve recently bought a condo in an up-and-coming neighborhood. Whereas if you’re selling, you might look for people whose agents successfully marketed their home with memorable webpages and other tools.

Talk to a lender

It’s wise to start your mortgage prequalification process earlier than your real estate agent search because the loan amount you qualify for will affect your search from the get-go. But there can be another reason to talk to lenders early.

Some programs connect you with reputable agents in your area—while making you eligible for cash-back benefits.

For example, the Alliant Home Rewards program connects buyers and sellers with local top-rated agents, plus the chance to get up to $6,500 cash back after closing. These experts have at least five years of experience, and rank in the top tier of experience and sales performance.

Research candidates online

Vet everyone—even agents with the most glowing reviews—to ensure they have the qualities and track record to align with your needs.

Scour their website and social media. What do these pages say about an agent’s experience and specialty? Do you see a sense of honesty and commitment in their work? For sellers, look for clues that agents will effectively market your property, from attractive photography and 3D tours, to lively home descriptions.

Also, find out if they have a team or work on their own. You may feel more comfortable with agents with colleagues to back them up.

Conduct interviews

When you’ve narrowed down your search, it’s time to dig deeper. Set up informational interviews to gauge how your working relationship might look.

Questions to ask might include: what makes them an expert in the local market? What professional accomplishments make them proud? Look for anecdotes that reveal character, as well as data that backs up their sales track record.

Get a sense of work and communication style. If, for example, you prefer texting, you may be frustrated working with someone who insists on phone calls.

Ultimately you want someone you can trust, who understands the market, and is an honest and skilled communicator.

The right deal is out there. With the right agent on your side, you’re well on your way to achieving it.


Check out these other homebuying tips:

You might like

Sign up for our newsletter

Get even more personal finance info, tips and tricks delivered right to your inbox each month.