Great question! There are a number of good ways to meet a great REALTORÂ® â€¦ itâ€™s just like finding a good dentist, accountant, plumber â€¦. and so on.
Here are my favorite ways:
(1) Ask trusted friends or family members. They will more than likely know someone and will give you non-biased answers. If they used a REALTORÂ® and actually remember who it was, thatâ€™s a great sign â€“ it means that the REALTORÂ® did something to distinguish themselves from the rest of the pack and has worked hard to stay in touch after the transaction closed. Both are the types of things you are looking for. Quite frankly, most people totally forget who their REALTORÂ® was within 6 months.
(2) Use sites like Trulia.com â€“ read blog posts, answers to questions â€“ you can quickly find someone who looks like they know what they are talking about. If they appear to be interested in answering questions and being an online resource, great. If they are just saying, â€œPick me!!â€, move on.
(3) Use sites like HomeGain.com â€“ they have an agent evaluator program where you can read profiles from a number of REALTORSÂ® - it allows you to look at experience, number of transactions, areas covered, customer feedback and so on. Itâ€™s a great way to find an experienced agent and itâ€™s free. There are a few sites like this out there.
(4) Ask trusted professionals â€“ your accountant, banker, doctor â€“ all usually have relationships with REALTORSÂ® they trust. Youâ€™ll get some good references this way â€“ professionals recognize other pros in other fields by the quality of service they bring to the industry.
(5) Open houses? Quite frankly, I donâ€™t think this is as good a place to locate a good REALTORÂ® as the others above. The reasons are simple: (i) most of the agents holding homes open are rookies and not the listing agent â€“ they are there for one very simple reason â€“ they are not currently out driving buyers around (weekends from 1-4 are prime times to have buyers in your car). They are (ii) there actively looking for new buyers. If I were you, Iâ€™d be looking for more experience â€“ especially in the crazy market we find ourselves. You want a REALTORÂ® that has closed a lot of buyer transactions in recent months â€“ they will have the skills necessary to effectively help you. This is not a normal market â€“ you need a top-notch pro on your side.
A couple more thoughts:
(1) Get preapproved AFTER you find a good REALTORÂ®. In many cases, a good REALTORÂ® can point you to a great lender â€“ one they know and can trust. I prefer working with lenders I know â€“ I can get hold of them on weekends, if necessary, and a trusted relationship built on years of working together make every transaction easier.
The following post may help you see what I mean:
I WISH You Would Use My Lender - 6 Critical Reasons Why You Should
(2) Interview at least three REALTORSÂ® - I wonâ€™t provide a list of questions here â€“ you can find countless lists on Google â€“ interview them and go for the one that seems to have the experience and meshes with you as an individual. Donâ€™t all for hype and promises â€“ remember, you are dealing with sales persons!! Get written testimonials, references â€¦ and a written Buyerâ€™s Philosophy. This means theyâ€™ve taken the time to put down, in writing, how they will serve you. You want to work with someone who has taken the time to think through the buying process and has written down their thoughts and buying process in a way you can easily understand. You want to be able to see, in writing, what you can expect the agent to do for you. Itâ€™s amazing how many REALTORSÂ® donâ€™t have this.
(3) Donâ€™t sign buyer-broker agreements that donâ€™t have an escape clause. If you are not happy with your REALTORÂ®â€™s level of service or you donâ€™t mesh, you need to be able to move on to another. Also, avoid agreements that guarantee the REALTORÂ® a specific commission â€“ this could end up costing you more than you bargained for. I have no patience with REALTORSÂ® who try to lock you into an exclusive arrangement that protects them at your expense.
If you do your homework, youâ€™ll more than likely be VERY happy with the results. Here are a few posts that may be helpful:
Why You DONâ€™T Want A Dedicated Buyerâ€™s Agent
How NOT To Buy A House â€“ 6 Important Rules For First-Time Buyers
Use The Gut, Luke (The Most Important Thing To DO When Buying A Home)
Good luck with your search!