So you have decided to buy and/or sell a home. Now comes finding the right real estate agent. As with any professional relationship, clear lines of communication are key. Right at the start, clearly state your expectations and goals. And when interviewing prospective agents thoroughly evaluate his or her professional qualifications such as amount of experience, any honours or awards and degree of familiarity with your particular area or neighbourhood. Other basic information you need to know: – What is the marketing strategy? If you’re a buyer — find out how your agent will find your new home, how many homes he or she plans to show you, etc. Also test a potential agent’s ‘inside’ knowledge of an area and what homes might be coming onto the market. If you’re a seller — ask for a detailed plan for marketing your home. What is the pricing strategy? What other homes are you competing with? How much advertising and promotional support will your house receive? – How busy is the agent? While it’s true that some of the hottest agents are often also the busiest, it’s important to get a good sense of how much time and attention you’ll receive. – What about references? Ask for references from at least three or four recent clients. Clearly a great way to find a realtor is from a personal recommendation. If a friend or family member has had a positive experience working with an agent, find out if this is someone who will also fit your needs. If you’re having trouble finding the right real estate agent, think about attending various open houses in your area. You can collect business cards of potential agents in a pressure-free environment and also have the opportunity to ask questions. You’ll also get an impression first-hand of how the listing agent markets a property. Likeability Your home is not only an important financial asset, but for most of us, a vitally important emotional one. So while you don’t necessary need to be best pals, it is important that you like and feel comfortable your realtor. Listen to your gut reaction when you first meet with a potential agent. Does he or she “get’ what you want? Do you feel like you can truly trust this person? Do you believe they are being honest with you and that you can rely on them for something as important as finding you the right home or selling the home you currently have? Like any type of financial decision, it’s always a good idea to shop around for options. Don’t settle for anything less than perfect.

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