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Whether you’re buying or selling a home, the right real estate agent can make all the difference. But with so many real estate agents out there, how do you find a great agent? And, more importantly, how do you find the agent who’s best for YOU? Here are seven important qualities to look for.

They’re Closer than You Think

Before you spend hours scouring the web for agents, reach out to those closest to you: friends, family and coworkers who’ve bought or sold a home. Chances are, they’ll have plenty to say about their agents – good and bad.

While it helps to speak with people who’ve recently worked with agents since their experience will still be fresh in their mind, don’t rule out long-time homeowners. Even if your brother Travis bought his house eight years ago, see what he has to say. A positive experience usually sticks with people. And, smart agents will send happy clients a magnet or calendar every year. Your next great agent may be stuck on a friend’s fridge right now!

They Know You’re Not Exclusive (for Now)

While your desire to get in that perfect home ASAP may be pushing you to move fast, you may be sorry if you rush this step. Take the time to put together a list of questions that are most important to you. Even if you have a great feeling about the first agent you interview, check out a couple more. Best-case scenario, you’ll find someone even better. Worst case? You’ll confirm that you have great instinct.

How do you know if an agent nailed your interview? Chisholm Gentry, an agent with Rocket Homes, suggests preparing a list of questions for your potential agent and giving the agent time to ask you questions. “Pay attention to how the agent answers, and how comfortable you are with the agent and their responses,” he says. “Did it sound like the agent understood your goals, both short- and long-term?”

They Have References

Skipping a reference check is fine – when you’re ordering a pizza. When you’re making the biggest purchase of your life, though, checking your agent’s references is a MUST.

When contacting an agent’s references, be polite, but get the information you need. Prepare a list of any questions you have about the agent’s experience, expertise, ease of communication and transparency. Then, be sure to reach out to at least two more references. Look for consistency in responses, and feel free to ask the agent to explain anything you’re not clear on.

They’re Experienced

Supporting your newly licensed nephew may sound like a great idea – until your real estate deal gets tricky. Remember, buying or selling a home is likely one of the biggest financial transaction you’ll go through, so be sure to work with someone who knows the ins and outs of the business. The best agent will have experience handling (and preventing) the complications that often come up.

How experienced does your agent need to be? Look for consistent sales instead of years in the business. According to Elizabeth Weintraub, Broker-Associate at Lyon Real Estate, “A successful real estate agent generally sells a minimum of one home per month or 12 homes a year.” To find out how experienced your potential agent is, ask them for an MLS report detailing their transactions over the last year.

They Know Who They’re Working For

Your agent should be just that: YOUR agent. They should take the time to learn what you want, and just as importantly, what you don’t want. An experienced agent should be your advocate and give you honest feedback. An agent who sugarcoats a house’s flaws or makes you feel rushed is nobody’s friend. If you think you’re getting too much sales pressure or something just doesn’t feel right, it’s OK to walk away. What’s going to be easier: getting a new agent, or getting a new house after you realize that galley kitchen really doesn’t work for your family of six?

They’re on Your Schedule

Are you only comfortable with phone calls? Is texting best for you? Can you only see houses from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays? A good agent will work with your schedule. Set expectations up front about how you would like to be contacted, and how often.

They’re Busy (But Not Too Busy for You)

An agent with no customers is a red flag. Sure, they might say that they’ll be able to focus entirely on you, but why haven’t they been hustling up business? You want an agent who’s hungry for business and has the sales to prove it. A busy agent has to be organized, available, thoughtful, flexible, and focused – all qualities you want if you need help getting into (or out of) your home.

Have you recently worked with a great agent (or one who left something to be desired)? Have any tips you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments below.

If you’re in the market for an agent, Rocket Homes has real estate agents across the country who would be happy to help you find the home of your dreams.

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