Ready to dive into the deep waters of Bay Area real estate? Your first (and possibly most important) step is finding a guide, helpmate, champion and problem-solver: your real estate agent. Not sure where to start? Read on…

What does a real estate agent do?
What is the difference between a real estate agent, a Realtor® and a real estate broker?
Do I need a real estate agent?
How do I find a real estate agent?
How does a real estate agent get paid?
What are some of the qualities I should look for in a real estate agent?

Realtor: How to choose the best real estate agent for your needs.

Select a real estate agent who can take you across the finish line in your home buying or selling journey. Photo: Van Heusen Real Estate Group, 2016

What does a real estate agent do?
A real estate agent helps a person either buy or sell a home.

A buyer’s agent can help a buyer determine exactly what they are looking for, arrange showings, evaluate the quality of the home in relation to the price, negotiate and, ultimately, close the deal.

A seller’s agent can help a seller prepare the house for sale, market and show the home, negotiate and, ultimately, close the deal.

What is the difference between a real estate agent, a Realtor® and a real estate broker?
A real estate agent is licensed by the state to sell real estate.

A Realtor® is a real estate agent who is a member of the National Association of REALTORS®.

A real estate broker is a person who has completed more coursework and passed a broker’s license exam. Most real estate agents work under the umbrella of a broker.

Realtor FAQs

A good real estate agent can help you find the house that perfectly matches your needs. Photo: MikkiMoves, 2016

Do I need a real estate agent?
According to Jason Muth, a San Jose-based real estate professional who works in partnership with Coldwell Banker, the answer is yes. “Real estate agents are to selling [and buying] homes what lawyers are to winning cases. Typically, when a defendant chooses to represent himself in a trial, it doesn’t go very well because he lacks the experience and strategic acumen that a lawyer possesses. It’s a similar situation in real estate. You aren’t facing prison time, but you are dealing with the largest financial decision you’ll ever make, which shouldn’t be left to a novice.”

How do I find a real estate agent?
Whether you’re looking to buy or sell, selecting your agent may be the most important choice you make during the process. Start by asking friends and family for referrals, as well as checking sources such as the Diamond Certified Resource. As with any important hiring process, select two or three possible candidates to meet with in person before you decide who to work with.

How does a real estate agent get paid?
Most real estate agents receive a commission based on the final sales price of a home. “A 6 percent commission is standard, but that’s split between the buying and selling agents,” explain Neil Schwartz and Donna Dawson-Schwartz, a Los Gatos-based real estate team who work in partnership with Coldwell Banker. “Also, part of the commission goes to the national broker.”

Realtors realestate marketing FAQs

This staged and professionally photographed home will show better than a home that has been poorly marketed. Photo: Van Heusen Real Estate Group, 2016

What are some of the qualities I should look for in a real estate agent?

1. Communication
Look for an agent who takes the time to listen closely to your needs, answers your questions clearly and provides you with good advice.

2. Experience
Carmen Miranda, a San Francisco-based real estate agent who works in partnership with Alain Pinel Realtors, encourages buyers and sellers to ask about experience. “Find out how many clients that agent worked with in the last year or so and ask for permission to contact them. For buyers, it’s particularly important to find a real estate agent who knows the geographic area in which they hope to buy. Not just a map-level knowledge of streets, but a true understanding of all the intangibles that shape the character of a neighborhood and ultimately dictate property values.”

3. Marketing
Sellers should look for real estate agents who will invest in marketing. “I recommend professional photography for every listing,” affirms Bryan Van Heusen of Van Heusen Real Estate Group in Pleasanton. “Now, photographers are even doing HDR photography along with standard wide-angle photography to give homes a special look. Some photographers even offer 3-D home tours.” Whether you choose to go this route or not, your agent should be willing and able to market your home in the best and most up-to-date ways possible.

4. Willingness
A real estate agent should be creative, passionate and, most of all, committed to their clients’ needs. As Michelle Cardoza of MikkiMoves Real Estate, Inc. puts it, “Reaching outside of the box and going a step further is part of the business. Your agent should do whatever it takes to help you find the right home, from knocking on doors to talking with individuals who may be interested in selling homes that aren’t on the market yet.”

Have more questions? Leave them in the comments section and we’ll get you answers from a real estate professional.

Realtor realestate why use a realtor?

A good real estate agent is like a lawyer: present to defend your interests and help you win the day. Photo: Muth Real Estate Group, 2016

4 Responses

  1. Laurie says:

    I personally would never recommend someone buy or sell a house with out a real estate agent. They are there as your advocate, to help you through the process. It is best to look for an agent that fits well with your personality. You may want to ask for recommendations from your family and friends. Great information, thanks for sharing!

  2. Tyler Meredith says:

    I like the recommendation to look for and agent who pays close attention to your individual wants and needs. This could be helpful for hiring any financial advisor, not necessarily just ad real estate agent. I’ll have to keep this in mind when looking to hire somebodies help, as it would definitely be beneficial.

    • Jennifer Chan says:

      You are absolutely right Tyler. We can get so caught up in whether we like someone or not (or they like us) that we can forget that we are hiring someone to work for us.

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