Whether you’re buying or selling a house, understanding how to find a good real estate agent is essential. Your agent will help you through all steps of the process and answer the myriad technical, tactical, and financial questions that arise, so you don’t have to waste hours Googling into the abyss. A good real estate agent will also have a clear handle on the ins and outs of the housing market in your area. Below are some of the best places to turn to find someone you know you can trust.
1. Find the agent with the most listings
One simple, somewhat passive way to find the best real estate agent is to identify which agents have the most listings in your area. Experience with many clients indicates a certain amount of ambition and hustle. Be warned, however.
“If they have the bulk of the listing in your community, what priority do you think they will assign your home and yet another listing?” asks Jason Opland, a Realtor® with Better Homes and Gardens Realty in Columbus, OH.
2. Get referrals from family and friends
Another common strategy for finding an agent is through word of mouth. Ask your family, friends, and neighbors whom they recommend.
“If people close to you have used an agent they liked, then you’ll probably like them as well,” says agent Amy McDonald of Triplemint in New York City.
Be sure to explicitly ask “Would you use the person again?” says Denise Shur, a Realtor with 1:1 Realty in San Jose, CA. Shur also thinks hiring a friend or family member as an agent could work “if you reasonably believe they will look out for your interest like nobody else will.”
3. Get a referral from your previous agent
If you’re moving to a new area, you could reach out to your previous agent for a referral.
My brokerage “has a network of agents we use across the country, and we can refer you to someone who would likely be a good fit,” says McDonald.
4. Ask a relocation specialist
A cross-state or cross-country move can be daunting, especially if you’re unfamiliar with any real estate agents in the area.
“Your best option is to contact an agent who specializes in relocation and works with agents from across the country and has access to agent performance and production reports,” says Opland. He says a relocation specialist can collect information on the type of property you’re looking for and use that to match you with a top professional in your area.
5. Look for community leadership
Here’s an outside-the-box approach: Look beyond the performance numbers and find agents who have actually invested in the area.
“Work with someone who believes in your community and does more than sell homes—someone who participates in local schools, developing businesses, or charities,” says Realtor Rodney Camren of Keller Williams Realty Intown in Atlanta. “Someone who is really invested will sell more than your home—they’ll sell your entire community when the potential buyer presents themselves.”
6. Evaluate what ‘good’ means to you
Your idea of a good real estate agent is probably different from someone else’s, so it’s important to make a list of qualities you most desire in the person you hire to sell or find you a home.
“’Best’ is a very subjective term,” says Alex Cortez, a Realtor with Island Sotheby’s International Realty, in Makawao, HI.
Does “good” mean they’re the most ethical, have the highest sale volume, or have the greatest experience? Do you want an agent who takes charge, or one who focuses more on making you feel heard? Is customer service the highest priority?
“Keep in mind, you will be communicating with your agent for (potentially) several months as you search for a home, submit an offer, and go through the escrow process,” says Cortez. “It would be in your best interest to find an agent with whom you have a natural rapport.”
7. Make sure the agent’s license is up to date
Before you sign with an agent, there’s one more thing you should check: the agent’s license. To check that the license is current, go to your state’s real estate department website and look up the agent’s name. You will also be able to see if the agent has faced any disciplinary action.