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Selecting an Agent

Begin each interview by analyzing the agent's activity list.After you review the written material, here's a checklist of questions to ask.

Checking agent references

Be sure to get activity lists with names and phone numbers of every seller and buyer the agents represented during the past 12 months. With a complete activity list, you can pick and choose whomever you want to call. You can get a pretty accurate picture of the agents you're considering by making just six calls per agent. Here's how:

  • Because you're a buyer, ignore seller references.
  • Look for people who bought property comparable to yours in price, location, and property type.
  • Of these buyers, call two who bought a house about 12 months ago, two who bought approximately 6 months ago, and two whose transactions just closed. By spreading references evenly, you can see whether the agent's service has been consistently good.

After you identify which buyers to call, here's a checklist of questions for agent references.

Picking the best agent

By analyzing agents activity lists, interviewing them and talking to their clients, you can gather the facts you need to make an intelligent decision. Here are three final considerations to help you select the paragon of virtue that you need on your real estate team:

  • Will you be proud having the agent represent you? People who deal with your agent will form opinions of you based on their impressions of your agent. You can't afford to have anyone on your team who isn't a competent professional.
  • Do you communicate well with the agent? Good agents make sure that you completely understand everything they say. If you can't understand your agent, don't blame yourself; the agent is probably a poor communicator.
  • Do you enjoy the agent's personality? House buying is stressful. You share extremely intense situations with your agent. Working with an agent you like may transform the buying process from a horrible experience into an exciting adventure -- or, at least, a tolerable transaction.