How To Find the Right Real Estate Agent, According to Rachel Cruze

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When you’re ready to buy your first home and have gathered everything you need to make it happen, you should first congratulate yourself. This is a momentous milestone you’ve worked hard to reach! After you’ve patted yourself on the back, you need to get a real estate agent. It’s the smartest and safest move to make.

In a recent article on Ramsey Solutions, renowned financial expert Rachel Cruze assembled a blueprint for how to find a real estate agent. Consider following her tips to make the process clear and effective.

Understand What a Real Estate Agent Does 

You may be wondering, “But why do I really need a real estate agent?” Understanding exactly what they do may help answer this question as it can familiarize you with what to expect of their services.

“Real estate agents do a lot,” Cruze wrote. “Think of them first and foremost as your guide through all the complicated tasks that lead up to closing day. Plus, research from the National Association of REALTORS says you’ll sell your house for more money with an agent than by selling it solo.”

Among the many things that real estate agents do, as noted by Cruze:  

  • Find a home for sale in your price range.
  • Research neighborhoods for best fit.
  • Attend open houses and showings.
  • Make a competitive offer within your budget.
  • Negotiate the contract, handle the home inspection.
  • Gather all the paperwork that’s due on closing day.

Choose an Agent Who Is Part of the National Association of REALTORS (NAR) 

Not all real estate agents are created equal. Cruze recommends going with one who is a part of NAR, as they have extra training and more tools to work with. 

If you don’t have a NAR real estate agent, don’t fret. So long as they are licensed, they are qualified to successfully find you the right home.

Narrow Down Your Requirements 

There are so many real estate agents out there, and they’re all clamoring for clients. This can make it tough to know which one to go with for the best experience and potential savings on time and money. Cruze wrote that you should consider the following characteristics and skills when picking a real estate agent: 

  • “Experience: Tons of new agents enter the real estate world each year. And while some of them get the hang of it quickly, that’s not a risk you want to take. That’s why I recommend looking for an agent with multiple years of full-time experience. You don’t want an agent who’s doing this as a side hustle in their spare time.
  • Credentials: Certifications and professional memberships signal that an agent works hard to be the best. You may want to look for an agent with credentials like: CRS (Certified Residential Specialist), ABR (Accredited Buyer’s Representative), ASR (Accredited Seller Representative), SRES (Seniors Real Estate Specialist), or REALTOR.
  • Familiarity With the Local Market: General real estate experience is good, but your agent also needs experience in your area. If you’re moving to Los Angeles, hiring someone who knows all about real estate in San Diego won’t do you much good. So, look for an agent who has closed a lot of homes in your area.
  • Good Customer Reviews: A real estate agent’s track record of helping previous clients can give you an idea how well they’re likely to perform for you. You want to make sure the agent you choose has a reputation for being excellent–and no, that’s not too much to ask.”

Ask for Referrals 

To further narrow down your search, ask for referrals. Cruze says to go beyond your circle of friends and family, and take a more professional approach. 

“Another great option is using a referral program that vets agents for you,” Cruze wrote.. “But you don’t just want to use the first program that pops up on a Google search — that’s a recipe for winding up with an amateur agent who simply paid for a spot on an online list. Instead, make sure you use a service that holds the agents they send you to a super high standard.”

You might want to check out the RamseyTrusted referral program for expert referrals. 

Interview Multiple Real Estate Agents 

Once you’ve completed steps one through four, take on the task of interviewing multiple agents. Be prepared to spend some time on this one. 

“Yep — I said interview,” Cruze wrote. “Now, I know this may push you outside of your comfort zone just a little bit, but it’s super important.”

Cruze shared top questions to ask real estate agents when interviewing them: 

  • How long have you been a full-time agent in this market?
  • How many homes do you close on per year?
  • How will you help me buy or sell a home in this market?
  • How will you communicate with me, and who’ll be my primary contact?
  • What sets you apart from other real estate agents?
  • What’s your commission fee? (This one is most relevant to sellers)
  • Do I have to sign a contract with you, and can I cancel without a penalty?
  • Who can I contact for a reference? (Be sure to get previous clients on this list.)
  • How do you set realistic expectations for your clients?

Once you’ve found the right real estate agent for you, go ahead and congratulate yourself again. This too is a great accomplishment!

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