Screening your real estate agent

Screening your real estate agent

Before you hire a real estate agent to buy or sell property, it’s important to know what you can expect from them.  Not only do you want to ensure that they will work hard as your representative but also that they work in an ethical and responsible manner.  Working in this industry every day I’ve seen my share of sketchy activities, laziness, and downright incompetence. Fortunately I also work with agents who go above and beyond and who truly prioritize their client’s best interests over their commission check.

The steps below will help you as a consumer tell the difference before you hire an agent.

1. References – raves and reviews are a great place to start.

  • Ask your friends, family, or colleagues if they have worked with someone that they would confidently recommend.
  • Collect a couple of names and then call or email those agents asking for more references. I work as a partner agent with Redfin and they survey every single client I work with so I can easily direct potential clients to my 3rd party verified reviews.

2. Responsiveness – in Denver’s market you need someone who is going to help you act fast. If you feel you’re waiting too long to hear back from an agent, they’re probably not a good fit for you, move on to the next one.  I personally would expect to hear back within a couple hours or the next morning at the latest.

3. License check – the Colorado Real Estate Commission allows consumers to search online to confirm that the agent has an active license as well as any history of disciplinary action.

4. Interview – sit down with one or two agents who impressed you and get to know them. You spend a lot of time with your agent so it’s helpful if you get along on a personal level.  More importantly you want to know if they have expertise in the area and type of home you’re looking for. There are lots of lists on the internet, but don’t be afraid to ask whatever you’d like to know in order to feel comfortable moving forward.  You can finish by asking “If I were to hire you, what would be our next step?” and see if the agent’s response feels helpful or if you feel pressured.

5. You’re never stuck – whether you skipped the screening process or despite your homework your agent is not working in the way you want them too, don’t feel stuck.  You may have signed a contract to hire them, but you can also fire them.  Discuss their policies before you sign if possible, but don’t let them intimidate you. An ethical agent will never force you to stay with them or force you to pay them a cancellation fee. If they have done significant work for you, it is reasonable for them to request payment but unless you signed an agreement that clearly states those fees, you are not obligated.

There are a lot of really great agents out there who would love to help you in a professional and ethical manner. At 33 Zen Lane we also try to make real estate as fun and stress free as possible. We hope these tips help you find the right agent for you next deal, and of course we’d love for you to interview us!

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