Home Buying in 92129>Question Details

Emiley, Home Buyer in San Diego, CA

How does one start their search for a real estate agents and what questions to ask to distinguish a good agent from a great agents?

Asked by Emiley, San Diego, CA Tue Apr 2, 2013

I'm looking for agent to help me start on my search for a home in the 92129 area, but I want to make sure that they can help me get all my eggs in line.

Help the community by answering this question:


Hi Emiley,

Good advice was posted for selecting a REALTOR.

But to help get you started with getting your eggs in a line, (presumably these are duck eggs right?), then you need to tackle a few things:

1) Finances. Get your personal finances in order. Save up enough money for the desired deposit, closing costs, reserves. Improve your credit score by paying high interest debt, etc
2) Locate a lender/mortgage broker to get pre-approved for a loan. This will also tell us what your upper bound is for spending on a home. Doesn't mean you have to spend that much, but it tells us the most you can spend as far as getting a loan from a bank.
3) Begin working with a Realtor to identify homes that fit your search criteria, and get familiar with the market so you will be well-informed to make a competitive offer.

At a high-level, it's pretty simple, but the devil is in the details! My goal as a Realtor is to make it as smooth as possible, keeping you well-informed of the process and always looking out for your best interest, and identifying any concerns that may arise to make sure no eggs or ducks get out of line!

Thanks! I'd love to make you a happy new client!

Royce Kemp
2 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Apr 2, 2013
Lastly, a good agent will tell you when he/she is available to show you homes.

A great agent will ask you when YOU are available.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Apr 12, 2013
Since you are looking for a "buyers" agent, not a "listing" agent, you want to find someone who has the patience to go at your speed, patience to educate you about the market, multiple bidding and financing issues, and someone who is ready to communicate 24/7. To get that kind of loyalty I suggest that you go to a lot of open houses in the areas that interest you, or check out some of the people here on Trulia who are showing that they want to work for you! On your side, once you find someone you are comfortable with, you need to show them your loyalty and they will then put you on the top of their list of people to clear their calenders for. Right now the market is heating up! A good realtor will make sure you have your financing ready, they will be experienced with multiple offer situations, and know how to negotiate and communicate well.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Apr 2, 2013
There are as many opinions about this topic as there are people. There are some excellent responses below by my colleagues.

To add to what the others have said, the difference between a good agent and a great one is in the relationship between you the buyer, and the Realtor. Different people just relate differently.

A great Realtor listens to you carefully and responding appropriately. You trust this person with your financial needs, wants, and dreams. With a great Realtor, you never doubt that he or she is looking after your best interests, you just know it.

A great Realtor goes the extra mile to save you time by previewing houses for you, getting your questions answered, and paving the way for you each step of the way.

I've been a good Realtor to some, and a great one to others. I would love a chance to speak with you Feel free to give me a call.

1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Apr 2, 2013
There is nothing an agent can say that would tell you whether or not they are a good agent. If they convince you to hire them by sounding good, they might just be good at selling themselves - but maybe not so good at selling your home or finding one for you.
Rather than letting them speak, or wasting your time speaking with their references (who gives out bad references?), ask them to SHOW you (without speaking), deals that they've done that are similar to what you're looking for. If they can't prove competence with past deals, anything else they might say would be worthless.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Apr 2, 2013
Yelp is a great resource, which carefully safeguards the integrity of user-submitted, testimonial-based content. Referrals from folks you trust are also hard to beat.

Meantime, any question you can think of will be a good one, because the best way to distinguish great from good agents is to determine whether their replies always put the truth ahead of incentive. In other words find an agent who separates advice from their commission.

The rest will follow.
Web Reference: http://www.sethchalnick.com
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Apr 2, 2013
How many deals have you closed in the past year.
is there an area you focus on most.
Availability: does your agent ever answer his/her phone?
Ask for referrals from previous clients or that agent.
find someone passionate about real estate.
make sure that agent has a great team to back them up (Lenders, TC, escrow & Title connections, )
find out what properties are for sale in the 92129 and ask your potential agent about those listings.

Ultimately word of mouth from previous clients always beats any advertising on any bench or billboards.

This is not rocket science, find someone who has the heart and the mindset and willingness to help you out in a genuine way.

Happy search and good luck!
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Apr 2, 2013
HI Emiley, Its all about providing excellent client service and listening to your needs, priorities and desires.

Find a local Realtor® active in 92129 who is going to make your needs their top priority!

Your Realtor® needs to make a commitment to represent YOU with fairness, honesty and integrity!

Keep it simple, don't overwhelm yourself with over-complicated processes. Let your Realtor® guide you.

Thank you for your consideration.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Apr 2, 2013
Hi Emiley,

First, be sure your agent is available when you need him/her. many agents quit working at 5:00, sometimes because they work from their broker's office, and sometimes because they only work business hours. If you have a question in the evening, you really should be able to get an answer, or at least give the information needed to get an answer.

Second, use an agent whose lenders are not affiliated with the broker. There's often an incentive to use those lenders, but you'll need a lender who can close loans, including FHA and VA in under 30 days. Lenders whose underwriters are outsourced take longer and you can't contact them.

Third, use an agent that will be honest with you. Anyone can get into escrow, but a good agent will insist on a full loan pre-approval before writing offers. It'll cost you $450 for an appraisal, and up to $450 usually for an inspection depending on the size of the home. If you can't close escrow because of something that could have been avoided up front, you don't get that money back.

Fourth, use an agent who'll take the time to explain things to you, and not patronize you. Buying a home is a process, and the more you understand and know up front, the less scary it becomes.

You're asking the right questions so far!

1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Apr 2, 2013
Hi Emiley~

Rancho Penasquitos is a great area for Single Family Homes in a competitive price range. Online reviews are a great way to see what others say about their agent. Trulia, Zillow and Yelp have reviews and ratings. In the March issue of San Diego Magazine, the results were just published for the 2013 Five Star Agent/Lender Awards were just released, did you happen to get that issue? This shows the results of the surveys that went out to select the top Lenders and Agents based on overall customer satisfaction.

Finding an experienced full time agent who, has worked in San Diego for several years and knows and understands this market is necessary. Finding someone you like, enjoy and who is knowlegable and communicative. i have a FREE Report you can request off of my website, with no obligation titled: " Find the right Real Estate Agent When Buying a Home"...it arrives in your inbox in seconds, hopefully that helps!

Chris Gorno
DRE# 01499885
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Apr 2, 2013
I would quiz them with very specific questions about the neighborhood you are looking in. See if you like the quality and detail of their answers. I would also ask how many homes they have sold in the last 2 years and how many homes they have bought themselves. Lastly, the best way is to get a referral from someone you know and trust. I know an excellent Realtor in that lives in 92129 if you would like a referral.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Apr 2, 2013
One thing to do is give them a call and see if they answer and if they don't see how long it takes for them to call you back. To many agents never answer their phones these days and then take forever to call you back. In most areas when a home comes on the market and it is priced right it usually has offers pretty quickly so having an agent that answers their phone and is available to go and show you the home is very important and could be the difference between getting the home or missing out.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Apr 2, 2013
Hi Emiley,
Probably the best advice is to pick a couple that you are interested in working with and interview them, either is person or via telephone. It is also good to check out their website and background, so you know what kind of experience they have. I would be happy to assist you in your search and would love to interview you. You are more than welcome to explore my Trulia profile (you can see I am a VIP#2, one of the top recommended brokers and check out my personal bio) or check out my website, http://www.McAllisterHomes.com. Call, text, email me anytime!

Sinead McAllister-Clifford
Real Estate Broker/ Realtor®

McAllister Homes Real Estate
Residential Sales & Property Management
License 01366009
858-205-5215 CELL
brokermcallister@gmail.com EMAIL
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Apr 2, 2013
Hi Emiley,

I would advise you meet with at least three Realtors®; however, you should keep interviewing until you are satisfied you have found the right Realtor®; there's no reason to rush your decision.

Access each Realtor's® Trulia profile for those that interest you [ i.e. http://www.trulia.com/profile/SteveO ] and read a few Client testimonials; and don't be shy about asking for contact info of prior Clients!

Aside from the above, here are my “Top 4” bits of advice for new home buyers looking to assure a successful outcome:

1) Find a professional Realtor® to work with to protect you interests.
Simply put, your Realtor® will be able to answer initial key questions and guide you through the process. One of the key advantages of involving your Realtor® is access to seasoned Mortgage Broker/Bankers with a track record of getting the job done. You can check to make sure an Agent is a Realtor® by going here: http://www.realtor.org/rofindrealtor.nsf/pages/FS_FREALTOR?O…

The primary distinction of any Realtor® is they have a real estate license by taking required classes and passing a written test - but most importantly - they must also subscribe to the Code of Ethics published by the National Association of Realtors® (NAR). Typically, Realtors® are also members of state and local association of Realtors® and further agree to abide by the bylaws, rules and regulations of those associations.
The full Code of Ethics can be found at http://www.Realtor.org/mempolweb.nsf/pages/code

2) Obtain a "True Pre-Approval" (your most important step in my opinion).
You MAY need to improve your credit score, increase cash reserves, etc. before buying; however, at least you will have a roadmap to eventually purchasing if this is the case. Furthermore, this step can save you from wasting money on a purchase that does not close escrow!
"Retail Banks vs. Mortgage Broker/Bankers"

3) Make sure you obtain access to your local AND regional Realtor® MLS data via an automated search your Realtor® should most certainly create for you; here's why:
MLS Data Accuracy – Where to search if you’re “without Realtor®”

4) Avoid Dual Agency!
There are specific duties an Agent must provide. When one individual represents both Buyer and Seller conflict between two of the most important duties occur.
“Dual Agency: Why should I NOT use the listing Agent to buy a house?”

1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Apr 2, 2013
Check out the link I've attached below for a detailed answer to this question including what questions you should be asking when you interview agents.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Sep 2, 2014
What is your "total volume sales" for the past 6 months?

0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Sep 2, 2014
Your best et is to seek out a referral from someone you trust, if not Google agents in your area.

0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Sep 2, 2014
If you are looking for an agent in the area that you want to live, check to see if they really know their neighborhood. Agents who live in the areas that you like will know streets like the back of their hands, schools, activities, shopping, parks, etc.

Always ask the following questions...
1. What is your availability? Do you work the off times?
2. How well do you know the location of the homes?
3. What can you do for me? Do you network with other agents, offices, etc.
4. How fast do you respond to emails, texts and calls. If they don't answer with 12/24 hrs (unless its during a planned vacation), something is wrong.
5. Willingness to work.

One thing I stress with buyers are is the agent LISTENING TO YOUR NEEDS.
We are here to help you. Also, you should feel comfortable with your agent. If you can't get along or feel like the agent is to pushy or not strong enough. Then that's an issue.

Some people will say - how many homes have you sold in the past year. I don't agree with that. Simply because there are some excellent agents out there that don't have or don't want the laundry list of clients of listings. Some agents may have sold 100 homes - well good, but some will work twice as hard for less listings.
I personally only work with 5 clients at a time.
I want to give you 100% of my work time focusing on your home search or sale.
Communication is my key!!!

I live in PQ - if you are interested I would love to help.


Nancy S Bergman
Realtor - Cal BRE #01893550
Keller Williams- Carmel Valley/ Del Mar
12780 High Bluff Dr #130
San Diego, CA 92130
Cell (858) 617-9449
Email - nbergman1@live.com
website - http://www.sandiegohomesbynancy.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Sep 1, 2014
Try to find out how many closings they have had this year. Talk to they a little bit and test their knowledge. Try to find a agent that REALLY knows thee neighborhood you want to buy in. Ask friends and family for referrals.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Aug 27, 2014
HI Emiley,
I'm sure you've probably received your answer, but Trulia does have a lot of wonderful agents on here. We help, we share, we excel at what we do and take pride in that! You can tell a lot about an agent from their past client recommendation, their answers here (so you can tell who understands the ins and outs of this business). If you hover over a person's picture you can see all their stats. I would also check out their website and, of course, feel free to interview them in person too.

?Sinead McAllister-Clifford
Real Estate Broker/ Realtor®

McAllister Homes Real Estate
Residential Sales & Property Management
License 01366009
858-205-5215 CELL
info@mcallisterhomes.com EMAIL
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Jun 3, 2014
When you want to buy a home the best place to start is to hire an EXCLUSIVE Buyer Agent, not just a Buyer's Agent. EBAs only work with homebuyers and there is never a conflict of interest that will jeopardize your negotiating position. Contact http://www.naeba.org for a referral in your area.

I've written a best selling book called Buying a Home: Don't Let Them Make a Monkey Out of You. It'll teach you how to buy a home and get a mortgage without getting ripped off. Follow the link below.

Best of luck!

Alysse Musgrave
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jun 2, 2014
Ask how many years they have been in business.
Ask what their office sale count was for the year
Make sure they are available when you are.

Lastly meet with a few, and see who best fits your needs. I find that many sellers/buyers chose to work with me because of my personality when we first meet. Believe it or not, personality is key, you want someone you feel you can trust to work the hardest for you.

Ask anything and everything you wish, the agent will be happy to answer you.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Apr 12, 2013
Experience matters a lot for selecting any real estate agent with the knowledge of their properties deal closed. Another good method is to contact the agent with referrals like friend or relative they have worked with.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Apr 4, 2013
These are some of the things to look for in a Realtor:
-Choose an agent who is a Realtor.
-Look for someone who fits in with your schedule, needs, and personality.
-Make sure that your Realtor is serious about your budget, because their pay will be determined by the selling price of your home, they should stick to your budget and not be greedy.
-Make sure your personalities jive before you hire them.

Here is a list of Realtors in San Diego, CA

Web Reference: http://www.realtypin.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Apr 4, 2013
Hi Emiley,

You seem rather savvy on the internet, so you can easily do a google search of "top 10 questions to ask when interviewing a real estate agent". When you consider that every 1 in 4 residences in California has someone with a real estate license, you can see where it might be overwhelming to determine which one is actually right for you. As a caveat to the above stat, a larger percentage of those with a license are not really active and/or are not full time agents. In fact, 20% of the agents do 80% of the business.

I would encourage you to look up agents who are local to that area and ask them the appropriate questions. It would also be nice to actually meet them in person as you can learn a lot from being eye to eye with someone. They should be able to answer any and all of your questions honestly. Be sure to look for client testimonials and to substantiate any of them by actually speaking to those who provided the reviews (make sure they are actual clients and not just people they had write a review.)

As a native San Diegan who went through the Poway Unified School District, I am very familiar with the 92129 (Rancho Penasquitos, Torrey Highlands) area. Feel free to check out multiple reviews of me and I'd be happy to provide their contact information as well.


Chad Basinger REALTOR®, CPA, CFP®
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Apr 3, 2013
It makes sense to meet with a few realtors for you to make your decision about their competency, experience,and the chemistry. It is critical that the Realtor listens well and understands how to assist you achieve your needs. Cheers! Dan
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Apr 2, 2013
Hi Emiley,

The very first thing you will need to do is find a location you like. Your next step is going to be finding a good Mortgage Lender to get you qualified for a mortgage. I prefer using a Mortgage Lender over your local bank as they have a lot more programs they can shop to fit your needs. You will not be able to know how much you can afford until you do this.
First time buyers sometime make the mistake of looking first, find a home they love and when they get qualified its over their budget. I have had this happen to me and there is nothing worse because; what happens every time you look at homes; you, are going to compare it to the house you can't afford!
Once you know what you can afford and have a pre-qual letter you can start looking for the perfect home in the area you love. Next is to find a Realtor you like and feel comfortable working with. You want to make sure that you feel that they are working in your best interest and that they are listening! Its very important to let the Realtor know what your likes and dislikes are. If they listen to you they will show you homes in your price range that suit your needs. You also have to listen to them in regards to what you can get in your price range. It is going to be a give and take depending on what you can afford. You might want a two car garage but that might not fit your price range. You might be able to get a one car garage or carport.
Ask questions and when you find a home you like have the Realtor pull up Comparable for what homes are selling for in the area. This will give you an idea of where you should place your offer. It is important that you know that a Sales Contract is a legally binding document and if you don't understand something, just ask. No question is a stupid queston.
Good Luck, I hope this helps answer your question. Its very important that if you find a Realtor who is loyal and is willing to help you; do not; go behind their back and use your friends cousin who is a Realtor. It is very important that if you want a Realtor to get you the best price for a home don't be disloyal to all the work they have put into helping you. This is a Profession for us just as your job is your Profession. The difference between our jobs is that we don't get paid every week, we have to wait until your home closes and you receive your keys.
This is my number one pet peeve when it comes to Buyers. If I am showing you properties and I find you the home of your dreams PLEASE DO NOT LIE TO ME and go behind my back and buy that house through someone else. As they say Karma is a b^^^^h and it will come around and bite you eventually!
Again, Good Luck in pursuing your home. If you would like me to help I would be happy to.
Call me at 619-578-1100
Trudi Geniale
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Apr 2, 2013
That's an interesting question, Emiley.

My advice to you is to interview agents - tell them your situation, and see if they can help you. And, in the meantime, consider how well you seem to understand each other, because communication is at least as important as ability.

All the best,
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Apr 2, 2013
Hi Emiley, you've already got a lot of good information but I thought I'd throw my two cents in anyway :)

--Don't underestimate the value of local knowledge. Narrow your choices down to someone who knows your desired zip codes cold. Not only will a local agent know the inventory, they'll be more connected to the agent network in your preferred neighborhoods. For good or ill, in this sellers' market agent-to-agent relationships are again becoming important in securing a property.

--As others have said, communication is key. If you like to text don't pick someone who insists on faxing everything (I wish I was kidding but there still are those). They may be a super-experienced agent but if you can't communicate with them all that experience does you no good.

--An ABR designation shouldn't be a deal-breaker but it is something to watch for. These are people who are dedicated to representing *buyers'* needs. They may take listings, they may not, but the ABR (usually) reflects a special interest in buyer issues.

--Be aware of the difference between agent teams and lone wolves. If you interview with a team leader, you may find yourself passed along to a subordinate during the process. Independent agents won't hand you off to someone else, although they may be less immediately available because they're trying to juggle multiple clients on their own.

--Try to get a referral from an acquaintance. Yelp, Realtor.com, LinkedIn, etc. are all well and good, but they're not thorough enough to be really useful. Nothing beats a personal recommendation from someone you know. And don't just go with the first referral you get; interview with two or three agents. Most of us can get the job done, but we have really different business styles.

From your thoughtful questions, you're just the kind of client I like to work with. However I'm not a Rancho Penasquitos expert so I can't recommend myself ;) Good luck!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Apr 2, 2013

Great question! Do your research and contact / interview several Realtors. As you appear to be interested in Rancho Penasquitos; locate Realtor's that do business and has knowledge of the community (schools, shopping, etc...). The key is finding a Realtor that suits you and you feel comfortable working with. Hope that helps and have a great day.

Best regards,


Thomas Conery, Realtor, SRES, SFR, CDPE
Best San Diego Properties Group
DRE#: 01376670
"Penasquitos" Resident since 1997
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Apr 2, 2013
Does the agent answer their phone...or return phone calls in a timely manner? Are you their primary concern...or the commission check?

Joan Wilson (Realtor, SRES, Ecobroker, Certified REO, HAFA, and Short Sale Specialist)
Pacific Sotheby's International Realty
Call or Text: 760-757-3468 An exceptional home is simply a frame for an exceptional life
CA DRE License # 01341483
Blog: http://JoanWilsonRealtor.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Apr 2, 2013
Hi Emiley,

As any "service" I look at the quality, reliability, honesty, experience, and work ethic of that person. Just like any industry there are great Realtors/agents...and unfortunately folks that should be doing something else :)

I personally believe in providing outstanding service, working hard, and using my 15 years of experience to help my clients get the best deal they can. Integrity, communication, honesty, and creativity are also very important. And lastly make sure it's someone that knows your area(s)!

Definitely "interview" a few and see who you click with and who can best service your needs. You can start with a few phone calls. Feel free to call me anytime...I'd love to be considered for your real estate needs!

Frederick Remick
'Keller Williams Real Estate
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Apr 2, 2013
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