Here's how to make sure your realtor isn't just "good," but is good for YOU.
Ratings, reputation, referrals from a friend, the number of sales in a year—there are lots of ways to determine a realtor's credibility. But just looking at those factors doesn't mean that person is the best fit for you when home shopping.
And fit is incredibly important. This is someone who will be handling sensitive personal and financial information and potentially delicate negotiations. They've got your dream in their hands—so you want it to be not just someone capable and credentialed, but someone you completely trust AND enjoy working with. Here are some ways to help you land the best realtor for the job.
Go for chemistry.
This one may surprise people who google "best realtor" or rely on rankings and ratings. Finding a realtor is a little bit like dating—one person's dreamboat is someone else's "eh, nice enough." So if you're a fast-talking go-getter, you'll want to find a realtor who moves at a similar pace and meets you where you're at. If you need a lot of time to make decisions, someone more nurturing and less hard-driving may not have the crazy-high sales record but could be just the right person to help get you under contract. Regardless of credentials, be sure to honor the notion of fit, and find someone whose taste, judgment, style, pace, and approach to negotiation are a match with yours.
Look for their knowledge and passion for the area.
Surprisingly, that doesn't mean finding a lifelong local, either. Often, a more recently transplanted realtor might have sought out your location deliberately to make their home there and may have a surprising and refreshing perspective on neighborhoods, lifestyle, and amenities in the area. Find someone who believes in the community and is a cheerleader for the shops, schools, and businesses that make somewhere a great place to live. They'll be excellent guides in helping you determine if a home is a good fit for your lifestyle and family.
A more long-time resident can be an amazing fit for understanding amenities such as recreation and medical facilities, or have raised kids in the school district, for example, and know the ins and outs and important players.
Above all, find someone whose perspective matches yours. If you're relocating as a young family, for example, finding a realtor whose experiences and lifestyle mirror yours can make for a perfect fit.
Talk to people OTHER than realtors.
Home repair pros, local contractors, home inspectors, title companies, and more will have all had extensive insider interaction with local real estate professionals from different points in the transaction, and can give surprising insight into someone's reputation, efficiency, trustworthiness, and overall demeanor, including who is a joy to work with—and who's not.
Consider the market.
In a hot market, you'll need a very negotiator. You'll want someone decisive and fast-moving who will champion your offer and fight for you.
Once you've settled on a few possible choices, do some legwork online, including checking ratings on things like Google and Yelp. Exercise some caution with these—online reviews can be places where passive-aggressive complainers really dig in, and not every reviewer is trustworthy or legitimate. But combine that knowledge with other aspects of a realtor's online presence. Look for a clear, professional website with helpful local information and client testimonials. Keep an eye out for any recent blogs or articles they've written, as well as any industry news and awards acknowledging awards and credentials, all of which will help you get a broader picture of their expertise and perspective.