Agent showing family a home

How to find a real estate agent

With the expertise to guide you through every stage of the buying and selling process, real estate professionals make a complex process easier. But with more real estate agents than actual homes for sale in the U.S., how do you find the ideal candidate that best suits your needs with experience in your area? Learn the advantages of hiring a real estate professional, where to search for an agent and the ideal time to engage with one.

What does a real estate agent do?

Agents who work with homebuyers are called buyer’s agents, while a seller’s agent or listing agent represents the home seller.

Buyer’s agents do more than help you find a home. They also:

  • Understand what to look for when viewing homes and neighborhoods and can quickly identify red flags, so you can focus on writing a winning real estate offer for the right home.
  • Coordinate with a team of professionals such as inspectors, title companies and your loan officer to ensure the homebuying process goes smoothly.
  • Negotiate the contract and terms of the sale and make a competitive offer within your budget.
  • Gather the necessary paperwork for closing.

As the name implies, listing agents list your home for sale. They also:

  • Prepare your home to sell by identifying improvements you should make to maximize the sale price.
  • Market and stage your home to appeal to a broad range of potential buyers.
  • Show your home.
  • Make sure the buyer is qualified and pre-approved for a mortgage.
  • Negotiate the contract at the best price and the best terms.
  • Finalize paperwork at closing.

How real estate agents get paid

For most real estate transactions, the seller pays the real estate agent commission. According to the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), the commission is a percentage of the sale price. “So the specific amount depends on how much your home sells for, and also varies by real estate agent. To give an example, if the home sells for $500,000 and the real estate agent’s commission is 6%, the commission would amount to $30,000.” Sellers’ agents are responsible for splitting their commission with buyers’ agents.

How to find the best real estate agent in your area

Trusted referrals from other homeowners are a great way to find the best real estate agents. Start your search by asking for recommendations from friends and family who have recently bought or sold in your area. 41% of sellers find agents through word-of-mouth referrals, and 91% of buyers would use their agent again or recommend their agent to others. You can also search the NAR website, which provides ratings and recommendations.

Once you have a list of candidates, you can research online to read reviews and check out their websites and references. NerdWallet advises interviewing at least three agents to find the right person to represent your interests. Get to know each candidate better by asking them these questions:

  • How long have you been practicing real estate?
  • How many homes did you help close last year?
  • What’s the best way to contact you?
  • How quickly do you respond to questions?

In a seller’s market where demand is high, there may be multiple bids on each property. That’s why HomeLight suggests asking your prospective agent if they’ve helped buyers find homes in the area, as well as “how they’re going to help you stand out in a potential sea of offers.” Services may differ by listing agent; that’s why Zillow strongly recommends asking “what’s included in your services?” as your first question. Followed by, “is your fee negotiable?”

When to find a real estate agent

If you’re selling, it’s best to start your search early because your agent may recommend repairs or upgrades. Forbes proposes discussing your home sale with an agent several months to a year before. The best time for a homebuyer to find a real estate agent is after you’ve been pre-approved for a loan and are prepared to buy a home. “If you aren’t ready to buy, you don’t need a real estate agent,” states the balance. “It’s better to only look at homes online until you’re truly in the market for a house.”

Why finding the right real estate agent matters

Buying a new home is often the most significant financial purchase of your lifetime. With an expert by your side, you’ll be better prepared to find the ideal home for your family without overpaying. When you’re selling, hiring the right real estate agent can help ensure that you get the top price for your home. Similarly, Guild’s knowledgeable local loan officers have your best interest in mind. They’ll partner with you to find the loan that fits your life, minding the details so you don’t have to.

The above information is for educational purposes only. All information, loan programs and interest rates are subject to change without notice. All loans subject to underwriter approval. Terms and conditions apply. Always consult an accountant or tax advisor for full eligibility requirements on tax deduction.

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About the Author: Guild Mortgage

Founded in 1960 when the modern U.S. mortgage industry was just forming, Guild Mortgage Company is a nationally recognized independent mortgage lender providing residential mortgage products and local in-house origination and servicing. Guild’s collaborative culture and commitment to diversity and inclusion enable it to deliver a personalized experience for each customer. With more than 4,000 employees and over 250 retail branches, Guild has relationships with credit unions, community banks, and other financial institutions and services loans in 49 states and the District of Columbia. Guild’s highly trained loan professionals are experienced in government-sponsored programs such as FHA, VA, USDA, down payment assistance programs and other specialized loan programs. Guild Mortgage Company is a wholly owned subsidiary of Guild Holdings Company, whose shares of Class A common stock trade on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol GHLD.