Agents are a dime a dozen right now. There were so many deals going on in the past few years that everyone and their brother took a course and got their real estate license. Deals were easy and commissions came frequently. In the past year, the deals have become few and far in between. Now, we are seeing less billboards asking you to sell your home with fancy-pants agents, and many agents are going out of real estate.
The good news for you is that the ones who are leaving are the ones whose lack of quality meant they couldn’t find or keep clients. Those left are going to be better, but not all of them. You still need to find the gem that is out there.
The first thing you need to do is to determine what your strategy is: are you looking for a primary residence to buy or sell? Or, are you looking to purchase or sell investment property?
I’m Buying or Selling a Primary Residence
Then you are looking for a residential agent. These are what most of the advertisements for agents were for. Family and friend referrals are good for you in this space. Ask them first. Avoid the billboards. Unless you are buying/selling a house at the highest end of the market, these are the ones who will likely meet with you on the phone once and then refer you to an underling to do the sale.
If you can’t get a referral, then start looking for the agents who are doing the most deals in the locality. They usually receive an award for the most $ in sales in the prior year. Contact the local real estate association and ask. They won’t refer you to anyone, but they will be able to tell you who won last year’s awards.
Put together a list of at least five agents and then call them. They should be quick to answer or call you back and they should be willing to talk to you. Ask them about the current market conditions and what is selling well right now. Ask them for references. Select your agent and find (or sell) your house.
I’m Looking at Investment Property
This is more challenging. There are less agents out there. Agents are kind of divided into residential and commercial, residential being any single-family residence, like the one you might live in. Anything else is considered commercial. If you are looking to rent out SFRs, then don’t get confused and go with any residential agent. Many will be happy to sign you up without knowing how investors work or what they need. That will cause you both to not get what you want.
The best way here is to get referrals from local real estate investors’ associations. Go to one of their meetups and ask around. Just like above, get five names and call them up. The best agent for you will be also an investor (don’t worry, there are so many deals out there that they won’t be taking your deal – if you worry about this, ask them and see how they answer). This will be someone who knows the market and knows what investors value in a deal. They won’t be looking with an eye to beautiful fixtures, but with an eye to the income that the properties make.
For anything other than SFRs, you’ll be asking around for a commercial broker. There are much fewer of these agents, so finding a great one is harder. Same as above, ask around at the local investors’ association. Make sure you have your criteria figured out first. Criteria is the list of everything you are looking for in a property, such as how many units and year built among many other things. If they are responsive and have good knowledge and are an investor, then you have a great agent. You need to promote yourself to these brokers more, so they don’t think they will be wasting time with a tire-kicker.
Either way you go, here’s hoping get a great deal.