Finding a real estate agent....

Asked by KMB, 94582 Sat May 15, 2010

Years ago, way back in the eighties we used a family friend as a real estate agent when we bought our first home. Not only is that person no longer around, but things have changed so much in the real estate world. It's like we have to start from scratch when it comes to selling our home in terms of learning the laws and newer real estate terms, etc. How does one really look for a good agent that you can trust? What kind of questions would you ask and what research would you do on a prospective agent?

Help the community by answering this question:

+ web reference
Web reference:


The Medford…, Agent, Fremont, CA
Sat May 15, 2010

Selling a home is about 3 fundamental things (The 3 “P”s):

(1) Preparation:

A good agent will work with you to thoroughly maximize your home for the market. They’ll help you set goals. They will walk you through any repairs and/or upgrades they feel will get you the maximum bang for your buck. They’ll provide resources to help you accomplish everything required to get your home ready for the market. Lastly, they will stage your home (in my opinion, it should be extensive, comprehensive staging and the cost should be covered by your REALTOR®).

How To “Play” Against REOs With Your “Normal” Sale – A Critical Factor Required To Win

(2) Promotion:

Pacita was right when she stated that you need to find out how many homes each agent has sold in the last year. Marketing homes effectively in this current economy (to ensure that you get maximum exposure and consequently the highest possible price and best terms) is NOT an inexpensive proposition. REALTORS® who sell a limited number of homes simply do not have the resources to provide professional photographers, custom dedicated websites, real panoramic virtual tours (not just moving still galleries), showcase listings on and other such websites … and on and on. Nor do they have the experience to know how to target your listing in the midst of REOs and short sales. When you meet with prospective REALTORS®, they need to be able to show you an extensive written marketing plan, and take you web links that show how existing and previous listings actually show up online. You need a guarantee that you are getting the absolute best marketing available. An agent who simply parks a sign out front, prints standard cookie cutter brochures and holds open houses every weekend is NOT what you need in the current market.

(3) Pricing:

Here is where the integrity of your agent is going to be critical. Because sellers want to get the highest price possible, some agents will promise you the moon to get your listing – they will allow you to put your property on the market for a few weeks at a ridiculously high price. After a couple of weeks, they’ll come back and ask for a price change. This does damage to your listing and you will usually end up with LESS in your pocket than if you’d listed at the correct market price right from the beginning. You need an agent who knows the various Castro Valley neighborhoods, the differences between them, current market trends and who has the ability to crunch all of the data for you and produce a realistic and accurate CMA (Comparative Market Analysis). You want an agent who will tell you the truth about listing price even if it means they might not get your business. Ask for their “Listing Price to Sales Price ratio.” And remember, the market sets the price, not the seller. Agents who sell a lot of homes know the market and can help you get the price right the first time.

Testing The Market NOT A Good Idea: Top 4 Reasons Explained

Top 15 Things A Listing Agent Won’t Tell Sellers … (But REALLY Should …)

How Does Your Listing Compare With a Banana?

In addition to the above 3 “P”s – there is a fourth “P” when choosing an agent:

(4) Personality

You want someone that will mesh with you – someone you are comfortable with and can trust. They need to be able to frequently communicate with you in the manner you prefer and must be amicable, genuine and competent. They have to have a track record with written testimonials and references upon request. You want a coach, mentor, guide, facilitator – not a pushy sales person. In reality, you are looking for someone who will help you sell your home now BUT, if you stay in the area, be a continued resource for many years to come. Best of all, you might even end up with … a friend!

As for how to actually FIND one?

Tim is right – ask your friends. Ask your accountant and attorney. Look online with companies such as and their Agent Evaluator program. And … look no further than this page – there are some tremendous REALTORS® right here!
2 votes
Mack McCoy, Agent, Seattle, WA
Sun May 16, 2010
Hmmm. 2nd question question in a day.

I'm not a big fan of checklists; agents think you should ask us the questions that we provide the best answers for, anyway.

I do think that there are three things you need to know about an agent - whether they are knowledgeable, whether they are available, and whether you trust them.

For all the research you can do on an agent, the fact remains that they can only control whether they are trust-worthy, they can't control whether you trust them or not.

While things have certainly changed in the real estate world over the past twenty-some years, today's agent is about as up-to-speed as agents of the past; some things don't change.

My suggestion is to drive around the neighborhood and take down the names of agents who have listings - or have "Sold" strips on top of signs. This will give you a pool of agents who at least know something about houses in your area.

The questions you should ask are questions where the answers matter to you.

All the best,
1 vote
Barbara Wils…, Agent, Danville, CA
Sat May 15, 2010
Find someone you are comfortable with. Ask them how they handle negotiations. Ask them how they handle low offers. Ask them what they will do to market your home. Ask them, if you or another agent calls them, who will answer the phone. Ask them where buyers are coming from who are buying in Castro Valley, and what will they do to reach those people. Ask them what percentage of the market their firm has - more is better. Ask them about staging your home. Ask them to show you some flyers or brochures from other homes they have sold - is that how you want your home represented? Are they full of typographical errors? Ask them what happens if you decide to cancel the listing agreement before the term is up, if you aren't happy with their service. Ask them what happens to your listing, to your marketing, to your open houses when your home is pending sale. Ask them if they will be there at the inspections, and at the signing. Ask them what happens if the home doesn't appraise for what the buyer has offered.

I hope this is a helpful list. Feel free to ask me for more questions, or how I think they should be answered.
1 vote
Bob Georgiou, Agent, Danville, CA
Mon May 17, 2010

I agree about one thing Carl best describes an ANALYTICAL approach to selling a home and finding an ANALYTICAL agent. Some people do not need this service. (Considering I am from the analytical school of sales, thats a tough thing to say.) Reverse the order of the things he lists.

Personality is number one on account you will be entering a personal business relationship with the agent of your choosing. It is important that that agent has a personality and demeanor that will mesh with yours so that good communication is maintained through the business relationship. Selling a home is a stressful and demanding matter for sellers and the wrong agent simply makes matters worse.

Ask youself the following question. How do you make decisions on large financial matters? Do you look around and gain a lot of information from many sources or do you seek out a name you trust and talk to representatives from that company? The former is an analytical approach where you trust information versus trusting a name and realtionship a company has built over time, a conservative (emotional) approach.

Inverview several agents. You can find them by 1) Going to open houses and find an lsiting agent that actually holds his home open and talk to him in the home. Listen to how that agent handles people who walk in the door. 2) Read a bunch of posts here and other places and find an agent whose style you like. 3)Drive around and fins a few names from people whose marketing you like. We agents hate this process but it is done this way to help you find the right agent match.
Web Reference:
0 votes
Jeanne Feeni…, Agent, Basking Ridge, NJ
Sat May 15, 2010
Great post from Carl - I''m awarding him a thumbs up! Trulia is a great place to begin your search incidentally. Identify a short list of contenders and then interview them. Using the three "P"s as your guide, evaluate their skills and experience in addressing them. And remember, no amount of preparation or promotion will cure a pricing problem, so be realistic and select an agent that you trust to be honest with yo you on all fronts. Consider staging your home - I can't tell you how many homes in our area have sold quickly post staging after sitting without offers for months prior. Also, to your point that the marketing of homes has changed dramatically since you bought - I would suggest that you look for an agent that embraces online marketing. Statistically, most buyers find their homes online - and so working with an agent with an online presence (including their own website at a minimum) and proven online marketing skills is essential! And on all fronts, don't just take their word for it, read their testimonials, ask for references and call them. Do your homework!!

Good luck to you!

Jeanne Feenick
Unwavering Commitment to Service
Web Reference:
0 votes
Tim Ambrose, Agent, Castro Valley, CA
Sat May 15, 2010

I would ask a friend, relative or co-worker that recently purchased or sold a home for a reference. We can all beat the drum and say how good we are, but nothing beats a satisfied customer.

I hope this helps

0 votes
Pacita Dimac…, Agent, Oakland, CA
Sat May 15, 2010

You will surely get all kinds of suggestions and recommendations. Here are my thoughts if I were a home seller today

1. The number of years that a realtor has is not a gauge of knowledge, wisdom and skills, unless the seasoned veteran has kept up the marketing innovations and technology
2. Know that approximately 90% of buyers and sellers go online in their search for properties --- you, for example, are online to ask your question. As such, knowledge of and market presence online is critically important. To get the maximum exposure for your property, your agent must know where and how else to position your property for sale in addition to activating it on the MLS
3. Learning the laws, maintain and renew our licenses, we have to stay abreast of laws, processes, etc. So for the most part, you're covered on this.
4. Referrals from friends and associates are also a good resource. BUT It shouldn’t be based on merely someone they know who is in the business, but rather how they know this person can serve you well. Just because they know a relative or a neighbor is a realtor isn’t the reason why you should hire that person.
5. Visit their websites. Read the testimonials See how they promote their listings.
6. If they have blogs, what do they talk about? How do they come across?
7. Check out their license status on the California Department of Real Estate

8. When you start interviewing agents, ask:
a) how they market their listings;
b) ask for samples of their work;
c) how many sales have they closed in the last year;
d) how well do they know the area so that they can choose the right comparables;
e) how does the realtor keep up in the industry – does he have other certifications or designations besides being a REALTOR? This is a sure gauge of that agent’s energy, enthusiasm and passion for the business.

Good luck!
0 votes
Chani Traffi…, Agent, San Francisco, CA
Sat May 15, 2010
Yes, Honesty and integrity! The interview process is very important, One you must find someone you just like, you will be spending alot of very intmate time with this person and sharing some very personal information. Make sure they are rady to step up and go to bat for you if needed, and have good business sense, and are handelng the the purchse or sale of your home with your best interest first and formost, if they are returning your calls and on time for paoints with you, shall it be a phone apointment or face to face, ask them as many questions as you can, if they do not have the answer give them the chance to obatin it,but do follow up with hat unanswered question. Ask if they have a resume and references, I would say the references are going to be key!!! Its just lke gong to a good restaraunt, people keep going back for the service......Service is key..............................Good Luck
0 votes
Kamal Randha…, Agent, El Sobrante, CA
Sat May 15, 2010
Hello KMB,

First of all, unless you REALLY REALLY have to, please dont' sell your home in this market. If you can hold on to it, that's the best thing. If you can't, I can assist you with a short sale.

As for real estate agents, we here on Trulia are all agents and you should interview at least 3. I would love an oppurtunity to earn your business but like I said, this is not a good market to sell in. I am a HUD, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae certified agent.

Good luck.

Kamal Randhawa
0 votes
Search Advice
Ask our community a question
Market Conditions in Castro Valley Zip Codes

Email me when…

Learn more