When buying or selling a home, the realtor you work with can make or break the whole experience, so it’s essential to choose your real estate agent carefully. It can be difficult to know what to look for in a realtor, especially if you don’t have much experience buying or selling a home in the past. Here are 8 tips to keep in mind when finding the right realtor.

1. Get a referral.

One of the best ways to find a dependable realtor is to get a recommendation from a real human being rather than an ad. Your first instinct is likely to ask a friend or family member for a referral, and the input from a person you trust is certainly a valuable resource. However, others may have bought or sold their house under entirely different circumstances than you, and a realtor who was helpful to them may not have the right skill set to meet your specific needs.

When seeking referrals, it often helps to focus less on how well you know the person providing it and more on how similar their experience buying or selling was to yours. Consider the referrer’s financial situation, neighborhood, and the type of home they bought or sold. The more these factors align with your needs, the more likely they can help you find your best fit realtor.

2. Search for signs.

A walk or drive around the area where you’re planning to buy or sell can provide you with a useful starting point on your hunt for a realtor. Seeing an agent’s name on a for sale sign indicates that they are familiar with the neighborhood and that other people trust them enough to hire them. And if you’re looking to buy, you might happen to find a sign in front of your new dream home!

3. Carry out a background check.

First, search online to check a realtor’s credentials and make sure they are licensed. Then, if you are interested in working with this person, ask to see that license in person when you meet them.

Also, be sure to look at online reviews. In addition to the reviews that pop up when you search a realtor’s name, check and see if there are any complaints against them on the BBB website.

Finally, ask if the realtor can provide references for you to contact. A good realtor should have a list of satisfied customers available for you to call.

4. Find someone with the proper certifications.

There are many varieties of real estate certifications, and some may benefit you more than others. Furthermore, there are several different distinctions a realtor can have. These distinctions indicate specific niches that a realtor specializes in, such as buying and selling second homes, working with clients experiencing a divorce, or assisting current or former military personnel and their families in relocating. Therefore, when researching a realtor’s credentials, check if they have any distinctions that would be particularly useful for you.

5. Ask some questions.

When you choose someone to be your realtor, you are hiring them to do a job, and they should be expected to perform well in an interview. Therefore, before you meet with a realtor who interests you, you should have a list of questions ready. Some good questions to ask include:

  • How many clients are you currently working with? While it’s good for a realtor to be popular, you won’t be their top priority if they are working with many other clients. You want an agent who has plenty of time to devote to you.
  • Do you work with a team? It’s not uncommon for realtors to have assistants, but you’re choosing to hire this realtor in particular, not other members of their team. If a realtor works with a team, make sure you’ll have plenty of opportunities to speak with the realtor themself throughout the process.
  • How do you mitigate risk? Home transactions don’t always go as planned, and you want a realtor who is upfront about what will happen if things go south. A realtor who insists that nothing will go wrong is unrealistic and is not someone you can rely on in a pinch.
  • Can you connect me with a mortgage broker/ real estate lawyer / general contractor / appraiser / inspector/mover / etc.? A good realtor should be connected to other housing professionals. If they are knowledgeable and dedicated to helping their clients, they should be able to recommend individuals or companies who can help you with any of the services mentioned above.

6. Choose someone you get along with.

Throughout the process of buying or selling your home, you’re going to be spending a lot of time with your realtor, so it’s essential that you like them as a person. It doesn’t matter how experienced or skilled a realtor is if they are unpleasant to be around.

Furthermore, an unlikeable personality might be a sign that a realtor is terrible at their job. Poor communication skills may indicate that someone is not a good listener and won’t pay proper attention to your needs, or that they are dishonest and trying to steer the conversation in a direction that benefits them more than you.

7. Talk to multiple realtors.

It’s difficult to gauge how good a realtor will be for you if you’ve only spoken to one person. Even if you like the first realtor you interview, you may find that your impression of them was only positive because you had no proper baseline to form your judgment. So be sure to talk to a few different real estate agents so you can compare and contrast.

8. Trust your instincts.

After considering all of the above, ask yourself one final question: How does this realtor make me feel? Gut instincts exist for a reason, and if any part of you doesn’t feel right about a realtor, that’s likely a sign that they aren’t the right person for you. If that’s the case, keep looking. There’s no shortage of excellent realtors out there, and you’re sure to find someone who’s the right fit for you and your needs.