Finding the right house or apartment can be tricky. And although there is a sea of agents out there, finding the right real estate agent for your needs can also be a challenge. Like any profession, there are a lot of nuances involved. Just because an agent is your mom’s friend’s pastor’s brother doesn’t mean they are the right real estate agent for you. Different agents may be better or worse at knowing how to find the location and type of property you desire. Some agents are genuinely interested in helping you stay within your budget—and others will relentlessly attempt to get you to spend more money than you can comfortably afford. This pressure, however subtle, may affect your final decision in a way that can be costly down the road. Therefore, we have created this guide to give you some tips on finding the right real estate agent.
Look for an Agent Who Knows the Market
You can be a good agent and still not understand specific markets. The fact is that most real estate agents focus their business on specific geographic regions. So an agent who does most of their work in Old Town may not understand the Fox Island market and vice versa. Think hard about the areas where you want to focus. Does the prospective agent close a lot of homes there? Is their office located nearby? If the agent doesn’t have a presence there, either physically or via sales, then they may not have a great understanding of the area. This doesn’t mean they are incompetent, only that another agent might have a better grasp of the local real estate scene in your target area.
There’s nothing wrong with being new and inexperienced as a real estate agent. Everybody has to start somewhere. That said, you should understand that using an inexperienced agent could carry certain risks. Inexperienced agents are more likely to miss essential details concerning the property and its condition. They may not catch some of the red flags that come up in disclosures, inspections, or title checks. Newer agents might also have a harder time pinpointing the market value of a property, especially if they do not have many recent sales in the area. Finally, new agents may still be working on their negotiation skills, which could put you at a disadvantage in a tight market. If you’re not comfortable with these potential issues, then an inexperienced agent might not be the right real estate agent for you.
The State of Washington must license anyone engaged in real estate brokerage services in Tacoma. Licensing Requires agents to take 90 hours worth of coursework and pass the broker’s exam. In addition to Washington’s requirements, some agents may pursue certifications from organizations. One of the most prominent organizations is the National Association of REALTORS®. Agents certified as REALTORS® must pass a written test and adhere to the organization’s ethical requirements. At a bare minimum, you want to make sure your agent is authorized to act as a real estate agent in the State of Washington. Having additional certifications from a reputable organization is desirable, though not required.
Check for Red Flags
A real estate agent can have all the experience and qualifications you are looking for and still not be a great fit. It is crucial that you understand an agent’s reputation before using them in a transaction. The two most common ways to check a real estate agent’s reputation are to look for disciplinary actions or bad reviews. Bad reviews will often show up on common search engines and websites like Yelp. Is the agent any good? Are they helpful and accommodating? Are they too pushy? Online reviews can tell you a lot.
However, looking up disciplinary actions can be a bit more tricky.
The easiest way to check for disciplinary issues is by looking up the real estate agent’s license. You can check an agent’s license through the State of Washington’s portal. Public disciplinary actions should come up when you use the website. Using an agent accused of misrepresentation, fraud, or other serious misconduct could cause problems for you down the road. Check for any serious red flags, but also keep in mind that anyone can post anonymous online reviews.
Find the Right Agent for the Job
You may have found an agent with their office smack dab in the middle of your search area, with a ton of experience, accreditations, and no red flags. However, that still doesn’t mean they are the right real estate agent for you. Real estate can be surprisingly nuanced. Some agents focus only on commercial real estate, while others focus on residential. Some specialize in apartments or condos versus single-family homes. Agents might also focus only on homes that cost more than $1,000,00 or less than $500,000. Some only work in one single neighborhood! Don’t be afraid to discuss the specifics of your criteria with a prospective real estate agent. If they don’t focus on the type of property you are looking for, you may want to consider a different agent.
Talk to Other Professionals
If you’re still unsure what real estate agent you should use, consider talking to other professionals to see if they have a list of agents they trust. Accountants, attorneys, and insurance and financial professionals will often come into contact with real estate agents. A professional involved in lots of real estate transactions will most likely have several agents they have grown to trust over the years. If you have a trusted professional adviser, don’t be afraid to ask for recommendations. Still, recommendations are just a starting point. It’s still a good idea to make sure your agent meets the criteria discussed above. Try not to settle for good enough when picking an agent. It’s an important decision, so take the time you need to find the right real estate agent for you.
If you have questions about real estate law, a potential real estate transaction, or maybe even a transaction that’s gone wrong, we are here to help. The attorneys at Blado Kiger Bolan, P.S. have over 50 years of experience handling legal matters. One area our team is well versed in is real estate law. If you’re looking for a lawyer to review or draft real estate transaction documents, we are happy to help. If you’ve been involved in a real estate transaction gone wrong, we can help you with that too. Contact our lawyers today for your initial consultation.