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All you have to do is log on to Facebook and you’ll be flooded with dozens of people in your personal network who are real estate agents. But think twice before selecting someone simply because you’re friends. You need to make sure you’re selecting someone who is fit for the job.

6 Factors to Look for in a Real Estate Agent

It’s helpful to have criteria in place for choosing an agent. This eliminates some of the emotional elements and makes it a much more objective affair. So, without further ado, here are a few factors we recommend prioritizing in your search:

  1. Experience

Every agent has to start somewhere and gain experience in one way or another, but you don’t want it to be on your time. Look for an agent who has at least a couple of years under their belt (and ideally five or ten years). This indicates that they’ve seen a variety of situations, markets, and trends.

  1. Market Knowledge

An agent may have 20 years of experience in California, but that might not help you very much if you’re buying a home in New York. While there are certain elements of the profession that are consistent across state borders, there are other local factors that come into play.

Local experience matters in terms of understanding valuations, locations, zoning, and neighborhood trends. You want someone who has been in the area for a while and is intimately familiar with how the market works. 

  1. Communication Skills

You’ll be spending a lot of time calling, texting, and emailing your agent throughout the process of buying or selling a home. Make sure you’re choosing an agent who is a good communicator.

A good communicator is not only available (answering your phone calls and/or getting back with you shortly) – they’re also clear and honest. They should be able to simplify the complex in a way that makes sense to you.

  1. Guide and Advocate

Too many real estate agents push their own initiatives. While usually not malicious in nature, agents will often inadvertently pressure their clients into making a purchase (or accepting an offer) by saying things that position them as part of the decision-making process.

But here’s the deal: A good agent should be a supportive advocate – someone who walks you through the process and has your best interests in mind.  As McGraw Realtors encourages, “get a guide.”

  1. Reputation

Ask around to get a feel for an agent’s reputation. You can usually find testimonials and reviews online (Facebook, Google, Zillow, etc.). You can also tap your network and see if you know anyone who has worked with the agent in the past.

  1. Personal Rapport

While it’s not the most important factor on this list, personal rapport is certainly one to consider. You’ll be spending a lot of time with your agent over the next few weeks or months. Make sure your agent is someone you trust and get along with. This will ensure the process is enjoyable and as stress-free as possible.

How to Politely Turn Down an Agent Who is a Friend

Almost everyone knows a real estate agent (or three). You probably have a relative, close friend, neighbor, or former college roommate who represents buyers and sellers in your area. The problem is, not every one of these agents fits the description we outlined in this article.

The question is, how do you turn down an agent who happens to be a friend (without ruining the relationship)? The best piece of advice is to focus on the following:

  1. Emphasize how important your friendship is and explain that you have a personal philosophy of not doing business with people you’re close to. Explain why you believe doing business with friends and family is bad and emphasize that you’ve chosen to respect the relationship.
  1. Never focus on the agent’s lack of qualifications or credentials. By placing the focus on your agent, you make it more about why you chose the agent and less about why you didn’t choose your friend.

In some situations, turning down a friend is still awkward and uncomfortable. But at the end of the day, you have to remember that you’re making the best possible decision for your family – and that’s what matters!