Real estate agents seem to be everywhere. Everyone has a brother or cousin who is licensed. Then they know six others who happen to be “great” as well. You already know that not every agent is great. But how do you weed through the noise? Here is how to research your real estate agent in Los Angeles.
Ask for Referrals
Of course, if the agent is being referred to you, that is an innate referral. But don’t hesitate to ask the person why they feel this agent is perfect for you. Chances are they don’t have a lot of reasons other than they love their sister-in-law. Ask the agent themselves for referrals and create a list of questions you want answers to. Find out how the agent shows properties. Check to see if they are responsive to phone calls and emails. Ask what type of negotiator they are and how deep their Rolodex is.
Check the Board of Realtors
Check with your Los Angeles Board of Realtors. They will be able to tell you the current status of the real estate agent, any complaints that exist and even let you know specialty designations that the agent may have achieved. Find out how long the agent has been in business and get an idea of how many transactions they are part of.
Online Research Services
Use resources such as Zillow to see what clients say about the agent. Look at his ratings and see how many homes were sold in the past 12 months. You will also be able to see any current listings and broker affiliation. Check the broker out as well since this is the person in charge of the office and technically the overseer of the agent. Look at the types of properties the agent has sold recently. You don’t want to hire someone for a mega-mansion who has only sold small condos. These require different marketing efforts and your agent might not be able to handle the higher-ticketed home.
When looking at the current listing, take a look at exactly what the real estate agent has put together for the marketing aspects of the home. There should be professional photos taken of all the rooms and highlights of the landscape. If all the real estate agent’s listings have homes with professional staging, you can see the demand for high quality that the agent lives by. Read the descriptions and check the listings for open houses. A good agent will write descriptions that entice buyers to come. Be wary of the agent who puts a listing out with his car window still in the main street view shot and lists the description as “to be completed later.” An agent makes a lot of money for selling a property. They should treat the transaction costs as part of business and great agents invest in the properties they list.
Don’t hesitate to talk to the realtor. Ask him the upfront questions you want to know that include his experience and how many homes he sells. If you have done your homework, you should be able to pick up on discrepancies. Newer agents can still be great agents and don’t need to lie about their experience. Find out how the agent approaches negotiations when putting offers in and when asking for credits. Remember that you will be working closely with this person who is protecting your interests in a huge financial transaction. You need to not only have confidence in this person but agree with how they approach transactions. Some people don’t want a bulldog while others do.