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Real Estate Series: How to Choose a Realtor

Buying or selling a home is a major undertaking, so it’s no surprise that selecting the ideal realtor with just the right expertise and guidance is an integral part of the process. “I have learned over the years that an agent’s ability to create a strong relationship and connection to their client is crucial,” explains Santa Monica–based real estate consultant and expert, Tara Rodgers. “With this connection, a successful sale or purchase experience naturally follows. In order to do this, a buyer or seller has to feel confident that their agent will work as their advocate and truly understands both their lifestyle and financial goals.”

To make the experience as flawless as possible, Rodgers sits down with SHLTR for everything from her top tips on choosing a realtor, common red flags to avoid, and when to walk away.

Selecting a realtor is one of the most crucial first steps when buying or selling a home.

Take Your Time

Schedule a meeting with the agent before you start the search and listing process,” says Rodgers. “Take note of how they respond to your needs, what initial insight they can offer you, and whether you feel confident the individual has the ability to negotiate on your behalf. Take the time to find the right agent rather than being rushed into a business relationship that you have not fully vetted.”

Character Assessment

“You will be spending quite a bit of time with your agent, so you do want to be sure that their personality is the right fit for you. Real estate transactions can be overwhelming and you want your agent to be someone that you enjoy working with and spending time with.”

Study the Resume

“Experience is extremely important,” says Rodgers. “The escrow process can be difficult and it is important that you have guidance from an individual who has worked through various transactions and challenges.  An agent’s experience and ability to control the transaction is priceless and will make or break a deal. If you have found a great agent that is newer to the industry but has amazing potential, I would not deter you from working with them. You will, however, want to ensure they have a seasoned agent on board to oversee the transaction.”

Rodgers advises clients not to rush when selecting a realtor.

Be Strategic

“Visiting open houses in your area is also a great way to explore agents,” says Rodgers. “You can see firsthand how they communicate and operate with clients and how prepared they are. If you are impressed with your initial review of the agent at an open house, take a look online to review their performance and how they present themselves digitally. You can explore Compass agents by area here.

Reputation Matters

“Your agent’s reputation and relationship with the surrounding brokerage community is vital,” explains Rodgers. “If your agent has a great reputation and is well liked in the brokerage community, this will make your offer and listing stand out from the crowd.”

Don’t be afraid to ask friends and family for referrals, and be extra diligent during the process.

Ask Around

“I firmly believe that you should lean on your friends, families and colleagues as your primary resource when exploring agents,” explains Rodgers. “A referral from someone that you trust and value is a great place to start.”

Geographic Knowledge

“I would not focus too much on how many homes the individual has sold in your specific pocket or price point,” says Rodgers. “Knowledge of an area and a specific caliber of home is absolutely important. If the agent has a consistent and successful track record, they will more than likely be able to utilize their skill set and strengths within your specific neighborhood and price point.”

A good realtor should have strong knowledge of a specific neighborhood or geographic region.

Rodger’s Red Flags to Avoid

Don’t Act Too Quickly

Do not limit yourself to the ‘brand name’ for your neighborhood. Explore a variety of options.

Don’t Succumb to Pressure

Buyers oftentimes will feel pressured to work with an agent that they meet at an open house because the agent indicates to them that they will have an advantage if, and only if, they go direct with that specific agent. The agent should be focused on earning your business based on their expertise and ability to represent you. 

Think Consistency

Buyers should really invest the time in choosing an agent that is going to represent them from beginning to end. Hopping between agents will not give you the advantage of having an agent who is focused on your transaction and end goals. Remember that an agent will devote their time and energy to their committed clients. Listing agents may also feel that buyers who come to the table without specific representation are not prepared. In a multiple offer situation, this may put you at a disadvantage.

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