The process of buying or selling a home can be very complicated and stressful. Not only do you need to comb through listings and attend showings, but there’s also a lot of lengthy, confusing paperwork involved. You’ll likely need some help navigating the real estate market and the buying or selling process. A real estate agent brings knowledge and experience to guide you through the purchase or sale of a home, taking much of the stress from you. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to find the right real estate agent to work with:

1. Ask for Referrals

One of the best ways to find a good real estate agent is to ask your local friends or family members for referrals. Find out if they have worked with any agents in the past who they would recommend. Word of mouth referrals from those you trust can be a great way to find an agent with whom you will get along and who can get the job done well.

2. Research Potential Candidates

Close up of woman's hands using laptop to search online

Once you have a list of a few names from people you trust, you can look up the real estate agents online. Take a look at their current listings and check their websites and social media accounts to get an idea of the work they can do. Reading online client reviews can give you great insight into how previous clients felt about working with them. While a few negative reviews can be expected, having more negative than positive reviews should be a sign to cross them off your list of candidates.

3. Meet with Your Top Three Choices

After you research your potential candidates, it’s time to pick your top three who you think could be a good fit. Reach out to schedule an appointment to meet with each of them. By meeting with multiple agents you can compare and contrast to see if you prefer the communication style or ideas of one over another. During your meetings, it’s important to ask each of the real estate agents the same questions so you can compare their responses.

4. Ask the Right Questions

Young couple meeting with real estate agent and shaking handsWhen you meet with your top candidates, you need to ask them questions to get an idea of who they are and how they can help you buy or sell a home. A good real estate agent will welcome questions to help you understand their processes and whether you are a good fit for one another. Ask about previous sales, experience in your neighborhood, specialties, work style, and whether they are equipped to handle your unique situation. Answers to these questions can help you determine which candidate is the best fit to help you buy or sell a home.

5. Check Their References

It’s always a good idea to ask your shortlist of real estate agent candidates for a list of references. Most agents will be happy to provide a list of references upon request. This allows you to reach out to former clients and ask them about their experiences working with the agents. Their positive or negative feedback can help you narrow down your options to one or two candidates.

6. Trust Your Instincts

Coffee mug and pen next to paper that says "trust your gut"As with most situations, it’s important to follow your instincts. If you have a weird feeling about an agent even after following the previous steps, trust your gut. Keep in mind that you will be working closely with the real estate agent you choose, so you need to be completely comfortable with them. If you don’t feel entirely comfortable, then it will not be a very good working relationship. Even if a candidate checks all the other boxes, it’s okay to cross them off the list if your instincts tell you they’re not a good fit.

7. Review the Contract

Once you’ve chosen an agent who you think is the best fit, you need to carefully review their contract before signing it. Look at the commission, which is a percentage of the selling price that the agent receives in exchange for their work. Typically, the seller pays the commission, but not always. This is why it’s important for both sellers and buyers to understand the commission percentage. You also need to review the length of the contract, as a contract over six months may suggest that the agent isn’t confident that they can find you a house or sell your house within that time frame.

Benefits of Working with a Real Estate Agent

Following these steps can help you find the right real estate agent to help you successfully buy or sell a home. If you’re on the fence about whether or not you need an agent, take a look at these benefits of working with a real estate agent to find out the difference one can make.