A client planned to sell a property she owned in a far-off state and asked for my help with selling strategy and real estate agent selection criteria. I had visited the property while on vacation and knew the area, so I agreed to assist with sales strategy and with finding the right local agent to handle the sale. We developed draft goals that would be updated after meeting with the selected listing agent, then moved on to the task of finding that agent. I sent the client my basic selection criteria and she responded with additional criteria of her own. Buyers, sellers and agents may find the complete list of criteria we used insightful, helpful and maybe a little humorous.
Here is what I sent my client:
My Real Estate Agent Selection Criteria
- Licensed. Most state regulatory agencies post license information for individuals and brokerages online, making it easy to verify that an agent is currently licensed. In California, the Bureau of Real Estate also notes if an agent or brokerage has been disciplined for violating state regulations.
- Agent is a REALTOR®. An agent who calls themselves a “realtor” may not be a REALTOR®. My preference is to hire a REALTOR® – a member of the National Association of REALTORS® who is committed to complying with the organization’s Code Of Ethics. NAR membership is not a requirement to hold a real estate license, so never assume a licensed “realtor” is a REALTOR®. Disclosure: I am a REALTOR®.
- Property type experience. Some real estate agents deal in multiple property types, but most residential agents stick to single family homes, condos and townhouses and commercial agents usually specialize in multi-family residential properties, industrial facilities, retail, office or other properties used for commercial purposes. Look for an agent who has verifiable experience with the type of property you want to buy or sell.
- Transaction type experience. Most home sales are considered “standard” transactions – buyer and seller are individuals representing themselves and the property is a simple home or condo. There are also many types of non-standard transactions, such as probate sales, trust sales, option sales, development land/subdivision sales, agricultural land sales and auction sales. Those transactions require special knowledge and skills and shouldn’t be attempted by inexperienced agents without close supervision. Look for an agent with verifiable experience in your type of transaction.
- Good fit. Good fit encompasses many subjective criteria, including the ability to communicate on your level, reasonable availability and a general perception of trustworthiness and competence.
Here is what the client included in her response to my criteria, focusing primarily on details of good fit. You may not agree with all of them, but her criteria provide food for thought. Note: I cut and paste this list from my client’s email, edited out the artful use of profanity and added a couple notes marked as “My comment.” Otherwise, her criteria appear below generally as I received them.
My Client’s Additional Real Estate Agent Selection Criteria
- No Bluetooth cell phone receiver hanging on the ear. Gives the appearance that the agent would place more importance on any incoming call than the client sitting in front of them.
- Dressed appropriately. Don’t over or under dress, dress based on the situation. (My comment: Real estate agent dress codes vary greatly by location and the type of property being sold. For example, I took a couple from San Francisco up a mountain to view a parcel of land overlooking Napa Valley. The listing agent met us at the base of the mountain dressed in jeans and dusty hiking boots – the same clothing I advised my clients to wear that day. He took us through the locked gate and up the barely-passable dirt road in his beat-up four wheel drive SUV. Was his dress and vehicle appropriate? Sure – the terrain was rugged and walking around the mountain top in a suit would have been inappropriate.)
- No jargon. Clients should not have to learn real estate jargon to buy or sell property. Agents should automatically convert jargon to plain English so the transaction is transparent. Agents who use jargon in the agent selection interview are scratched off the list.
- It’s not about you, Mr./Mrs./Miss Agent. Agents who spend more than 20% of the listing interview talking about themselves or refer the interview as a “listing presentation” are scratched off the list. The agent should be asking about the property and the seller’s needs and expectations. (My comment: Most real estate agent interviews for listing gigs take place in two parts, the agent interview and the listing presentation. This criteria refers to the initial interview only. In an ideal world, the agent takes what they learned in the interview and return for a second meeting with a listing presentation that explains the game plan the agent would execute if hired.)
- I have a dog, I don’t need another friend. Agents who “welcome you to their family” or want to become “your friend for life” or “agent for life” are scratched off the list. I’m looking for a professional to handle a job, not a personal relationship.
Have a great week! Have questions about real estate agent selection criteria or real estate in general? Many Real Living posts are answers to reader questions. Drop me a line: Contact Us.
About Real Living with Broker John™
Each week Real Living with Broker John™ provides innovative tips and information regarding all aspects of owning, buying and selling real estate. John Souerbry is Broker/Owner of Cordon Real Estate, a full service brokerage in California’s San Francisco Bay Area (CA License 01370983). Contact John with questions or comments regarding Real Living or real estate in Wine Country, East Bay and Silicon Valley.
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