How to Choose Your Real Estate Agent
Though all real estate agents in Virginia must be licensed by DPOR (Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation,) the amount of knowledge or skill each real estate agent licensed in our Commonwealth varies greatly. If you are looking for someone with a pulse that will give you a rebate, if you get your rebate, you have gotten what you hired. If you are looking for someone to truly protect your best interests as a seller or buyer, there is unlikely to be a rebate offered, or a super low commission.
Agents with superior skills and knowledge know their worth in the market place. And you before you get twisted about how much a real estate agent earns, you probably should understand some things:
- Real estate agents are not paid anything but commission when they sell a home.
- Real estate agents don’t have taxes withheld from their paychecks.
- Real estate agents, unless running their own brokerage, must split their commissions with their brokerage.
- Real estate agents must pay for their own business expenses, be it gas, marketing materials, MLS fees, etc.
In any profession, the best results come from the top notch professionals. And I don’t know of any top notch professionals not charging more than their competitors. Does that mean you should just run out and hire someone charging you the most? No. Here are some tips:
- Ask your friends or family if they have an agent they have used and liked.
- Peruse sites like Zillow to see sales history of various agents and reviews. There you can learn how active the agent is, the areas where they specialize, and what their clients have to say about their services.
- Call and have a conversation with an agent that you find well versed in your needs. You can tell a lot by talking to an agent. Great agents ask a lot of questions and will rarely be caught off guard.
- Does the agent you are considering have reasons and “war stories” about why they are advising you the way they are? If not, they may not have much experience.
- Ask the agents you encounter what additional qualifications they have beyond holding an active license. An agent that wants to invest in their own knowledge will either have a higher level of license or some designations. They will likely also have earned levels of noteworthy achievement by their brokerage or association.
Hiring an agent based on how low of a commission they offer or what rebate they will give you usually lets you know that you are not working with the cream of the crop. And your results may be less than stellar. If results matter to you (that’s getting the best deal with buying or selling,) don’t hire assuming we are all the same. We are not.
The opinions expressed in this blog are those of Chris Ann Cleland, not Long & Foster.