How Do I Find The Best Realtor Near Me?
Updated: May 12
Buying or selling a property involves making important decisions and navigating a complex process that requires a lot of time, effort, and expertise.
One of the key players in this process is the real estate agent.
A top producing real estate agent can make a huge difference in the success of your real estate transaction, while a bad one can lead to costly mistakes and frustrations.
Therefore, it's essential to see through the marketing gimmicks and know how to find the best real estate agent for you, whether you are in San Francisco Bay Area, San Mateo, or beyond.
In this article, we'll explore:
The Basics of a Real Estate Agent (aka Realtor)
Characteristics of The Best Realtor Near Me
What's The Difference Between a Broker And a Real Estate Agent?
1. The Basics of a Real Estate Agent
Real estate agents are licensed professionals who represent buyers, sellers, or both in real estate transactions.
REALTORS® are real estate agents who join a professional group called the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR). NAR gives them extra training and tools to do their jobs.
To become a licensed real estate agent in California, one must complete a 135 hour pre-licensing education course (45 hours Real Estate Principles, 45 hours Real Estate Practices, and 45 hours. of Real Estate Finance), pass a state exam, and meet other requirements set by the state.
a. How do I know they are legitimate?
Trust but verify. You can verify they have an active license on the California’s Real Estate License Lookup Tool (my license number is DRE #02128545) or your state's Department of Real Estate website.
b. What Do Real Estate Agents Do?
Here's a table outlining some of the tasks that real estate agents typically handle for buyers and sellers:
Search and identify properties that meet buyer's criteria
List property for sale on multiple platforms
Schedule and conduct property showings
Prepare property for showings and make it available
Negotiate price, terms, and contingencies with the seller
Review and respond to offers, negotiate terms and price
Coordinate and attend inspections
Make property available for inspections and respond to requests
Financing and Closing
Assist with pre-approval and financing process
Coordinate with buyer's agent and attorney to ensure smooth closing
Analyze the local market and provide guidance on pricing
Conduct market analysis and provide pricing recommendations
Provide access to exclusive property listings and arrange showings
Develop and implement a marketing strategy to attract potential buyers
Documentation and Contracts
Prepare and review contracts and other legal documents
Review and sign contracts and other legal documents
Provide post-sale support and guidance
Provide post-sale support and ensure a smooth closing
Goals for a buyer's real estate agent:
Find your dream home quickly and be certain it is your best choice.
Understand the home's condition and the neighborhood it is in.
Your purchase offer to be accepted and conditions to be fulfilled.
Negotiate a purchase with very good terms and price.
Help to ensure your lender will lend you money at good terms.
Avoid having your purchase fail to complete by resolving any problems which surface during escrow quickly.
Help in taking possession of your new home on the agreed upon date.
If you discover any unfortunate surprises with your home, you want help overcoming them.
Goals for a seller's real estate agent:
Provide you good information NOW to decide if selling your home now is a good choice.
Help you improve any issues with your home which will give a greater money return than the cost to fix them.
Present your home to the most good potential buyers so that it looks as desirable and valuable as possible.
Receive many good purchase offers.
Assist you with evaluating purchase offers as accurately as possible.
Negotiate the best terms and price.
Sale conditions to be fulfilled.
Avoid having your purchase fail to complete by resolving any problems which surface during escrow quickly.
Receive payment for the sale of your home by the date agreed upon.
Enable you to move to your new home when agreed upon.
c. Characteristics of The Best Real Estate Agents Near Me?
When looking for the best real estate agent, there are certain characteristics you should look for. Here are the top 5:
Experience: Look for an agent who has been in the business for several years and has a proven track record of success.
Communication skills: A great agent should be an excellent communicator who keeps you informed throughout the entire process.
Market knowledge: Your agent should have a deep understanding of the local real estate market and be able to provide valuable insights and advice.
Negotiation skills: A great agent should be a skilled negotiator who can get you the best possible deal.
Availability: Look for an agent who is available when you need them and is responsive to your questions and concerns.
2. What to Do Before Looking for a Real Estate Agent?
Before you start looking for a real estate agent, there are a few things you should do to prepare yourself and make the process smoother:
Discuss your needs and goals with your significant other: Think about why you're buying or selling a property, what your budget is, what features or amenities you're looking for, and what your timeline is. This will help you both get on the same page. If going at it alone, talk to friends to see why they bought there home and what they like / don't like about home ownership.
Research the local market: Walk a few homes and look at more online to get an idea of what properties are available, how much they cost, and how long they typically stay on the market.
Talk to 3 lenders (don't have them pull your credit score yet!): If you're buying a property, get to know how much you can afford so you know what the general ballpark of homes to look at based on price. Triangulate on your purchase power by talking with at least 3 to see what options they offer for your situation.
Ask for referrals: Ask friends, family, and colleagues for recommendations on real estate agents they have worked with and had a good experience with and have a good reputation. Here are a few of my referrals.
3. Where to Find the Best Estate Agent Near Me?
Finding the right real estate agent can be challenging, but there are several ways to go about it:
Use online resources: There are many websites and directories that list real estate agents, their credentials, and their specialties. Some of those are purely marketing tools that agents pay a fee to advertise upon so look for multiple websites. You can also read reviews (Google, Yelp, Zillow) and ratings from past clients to get an idea of their reputation and performance.
Attend open houses: Visit open houses in your area and observe the agents' behavior, professionalism, and knowledge. Take note of the ones who seem friendly, approachable, and informative.
Look for signs: Keep an eye out for "For Sale" signs in your neighborhood or surrounding areas. Note the names and phone numbers of the agents and do some research on them.
Attend local events: Attend local real estate events, seminars, or workshops to meet agents in person and learn more about the industry and the market.
4. Best 5 Interview Questions to Ask...
Once you have a shortlist of potential real estate agents, it's essential to interview them to get a sense of their experience, expertise, and compatibility with your needs and goals.
a. Every Realtor
Here are the top 3 interview questions to ask every agent:
How long have you been a real estate agent, and how many transactions have you handled in the past year? This question can give you an idea of the agent's experience and activity level. A good agent should have at least a few years of experience and a solid track record of successful transactions.
How do you communicate with your clients, and how often? Communication is key in any business relationship, and real estate is no exception. You want an agent who is responsive, transparent, and keeps you informed throughout the process. Ask how they prefer to communicate (e.g., phone, email, text) and how often you can expect updates.
Can you provide references from past clients? A good agent should be willing to provide references from past clients who can vouch for their professionalism, expertise, and customer service. Don't be afraid to follow up with these references and ask about their experience working with the agent.
b. Listing Agents
Here are three important questions to ask a listing agent before hiring them:
What is your experience selling homes in this area? One of the most important factors to consider when selecting a listing agent is their experience selling homes in your area. It's crucial to choose an agent who knows the local market well, including pricing trends, buyer demographics, and any unique features that may impact the value of your home. Ask the agent about their experience selling homes in your area and what sets them apart from other agents in the market.
How do you plan to market my home? Marketing is another critical factor in selling a home quickly and at the best price. A good listing agent should have a comprehensive marketing plan that includes online and offline strategies to reach potential buyers. Ask the agent about their marketing plan and what specific steps they will take to promote your home, such as professional photography, virtual tours, open houses, and targeted advertising.
What is your commission rate and how do you justify it? Real estate commission rates can vary, but typically range from 5% to 6% of the sale price of the home. It's essential to understand how much the listing agent charges and what services are included in their commission. Ask the agent to justify their commission rate and explain what value they will bring to the transaction. A good agent should be able to demonstrate their expertise, experience, and marketing capabilities and how these factors will benefit you as the seller.
c. Buyer's agents
Here are three important questions to ask a buyer's agent before hiring them:
What is your experience helping buyers find homes in this area? Experience is critical when it comes to finding the right home in a competitive market. Ask the buyer's agent about their experience helping buyers find homes in the area where you're looking, and how long they have been working in the local market. A good agent should be able to provide insight into market trends, pricing, and the availability of homes in the area.
What is your approach to helping buyers find the right home? Different agents have different approaches when it comes to helping buyers find the right home. Some may prefer to show a large number of properties to the buyer, while others may focus on understanding the buyer's needs and finding a select few properties that meet those criteria. Ask the agent about their approach to helping buyers find the right home and how they will work with you to find the best property.
How do you negotiate on behalf of buyers? Negotiation is a critical skill for any buyer's agent, and it's important to know how they will represent you in the negotiation process. Ask the agent about their approach to negotiating on behalf of buyers, and how they will work to get you the best price and terms for the home. A good agent should be able to demonstrate their negotiation skills and explain how they will use their expertise to help you get the best deal possible.
5. Frequently Asked Questions
Some of the more commonly asked questions real estate agents get:
a. What's The Difference Between a Broker And a Real Estate Agent?
A real estate broker is a licensed professional who can operate their own brokerage firm and supervise other agents. An agent, on the other hand, works under a broker's supervision and cannot operate independently.
b. How Much Are Real Estate Agent Fees in the Bay Area?
Real estate agents are typically paid a commission based on the sale price of the property. The commission fee for both a listing agent and a buyer's agent are typically 5-6% of the home sales price; 2.5-3% for the seller’s agent and 2.5-3% for the buyer’s agent. These are then split further if the agent is on a team as well as to the broker. On average after taxes and all is said and done, each realtor in the transaction will net about 1%.
Note: It’s common for the seller to pay for both agent commissions. In other words, working with an agent is usually free for the buyer.
c. Can You Change Real Estate Agents?
Yes, you can change real estate agents if you're not satisfied with their performance or if you don't feel a good fit. However, you may have to pay a cancellation fee or honor the terms of the original agreement.
d. Can You Negotiate a Real Estate Agent Commission?
Yes, you can negotiate the commission rate with your agent. However, keep in mind that a lower commission may affect the quality and scope of the services provided.
e. Should You Work With a Big Team Or a Solo Agent?
Some real estate agents work alone, while others work as part of a team. There are pros and cons to each approach. A solo agent may provide more personalized attention and focus, while a team may have more resources and a wider network. Ultimately, it’s important to choose an agent or team that you feel comfortable working with and who can meet your specific needs.
f. Why Do Real Estate Agents Work For Brokers?
Real estate agents work for brokers because brokers provide a range of services that help agents operate more efficiently and effectively.
Some of these services include:
Access to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS): Brokers provide agents with access to the MLS, which is a database of all the properties listed for sale in a particular area. This allows agents to view and share information about available properties with their clients.
Marketing and advertising: Brokers often provide marketing and advertising services to help agents promote themselves and their listings. This can include access to professional photography, print and online advertising, and social media marketing.
Training and support: Brokers typically offer ongoing training and support to their agents, including education on industry trends, legal requirements, and best practices for client management and negotiation.
Compliance and legal support: Brokers ensure that their agents comply with all relevant laws and regulations, and provide legal support in the event of a dispute or issue with a client.
Brand recognition: Working under the umbrella of a well-known and established brokerage can lend credibility and recognition to an agent, which can be beneficial in building a strong client base.
In exchange for these services, brokers typically take a percentage of the commission earned by their agents on each transaction. This arrangement benefits both parties, as agents have access to resources that help them succeed, and brokers earn revenue from the transactions generated by their agents.
g. Is a Top Real Estate Agent the Best Real Estate Agent?
Yes, almost always!
Solving problems so that the home sale can complete comes from experience and creativity. Although negotiation skills can be improved by studies, experience and reputation are key to negotiating. A top agent has more of both and as a husband / wife team, we are constantly practicing our negotiation skills.
A top agent has more connections and can get the help of better specialists. A top agent has more recent experience and knows what is favored and effective. A top agent can reach out to more real estate agents, potential buyers, and people to create a positive buzz of comments about your property. A top agent isn't a one person company, they are a skilled experienced agent with an experienced team helping them.
h. Did You Find This Article Helpful? Share It!
We hope this article has given you some valuable insights and tips on how to find the best real estate agent near you. Remember to do your research, ask the right questions, and trust your instincts. A good agent can make the buying or selling process much smoother and less stressful, so take the time to find the right one for you. And if you found this article helpful, please share it with your friends and family who may be looking for the best real estate agent in their area.