How to Find a Real Estate Agent

How to Find a Real Estate Agent

Whether you’re buying a new house or selling your existing home, you face the challenges of navigating the complexities of the real estate journey. While selling or buying a home may sound simple enough, the mere thought of the myriad tasks involved and the decisions to be made can make your heart beat a little faster.

Fortunately, we’re here to help so you don’t have to go through this process alone. Home buyers and sellers turn to professionals to guide them through the maze of searching for properties, navigating offers and counteroffers, and working through the closing process. And there’s no shortage of people offering to help you. Real estate agents abound, their faces smiling at you on websites and “for sale” signs.

But how do you choose the right agent? Read on for advice on how to find a real estate agent who can expertly guide you through your home-buying or selling adventure.

What Is a real estate agent, anyway?

There’s a big difference between a cook and a chef, though they both prepare food. To understand the specifics of what a professional does, you need to know what their title is and what it means. The same applies to real estate agents. There are a variety of labels that real estate professionals wear, and while they may seem similar, there are nuances of training and certification that you need to be aware of.

Agents and brokers: is there a difference?

Real estate agents are licensed by the state and are authorized to represent buyers or sellers (or both) in property negotiations. A state board establishes basic requirements that must be met, including age limits, background checks, fees, testing, and continuing education.

A broker is a separate state license. Brokers have demonstrated experience in buying and selling homes and must complete additional educational courses in real estate law, insurance, taxes, and professional ethics. They are required to pass a higher-level examination. Brokers may supervise other agents once they gain endorsement by their state as a supervising broker.


A Realtor is a licensed member of the National Association of Realtors (NAR). Only they can use the title, which is often displayed in its trademarked format, “REALTOR®.” The NAR is a professional organization in which members are required to pay professional dues and pledge to follow the Realtor Code of Ethics.

Buyer’s agents and listing agents: whose side are you on?

A buyer’s agent helps you explore the houses available in your desired location and offers guidance in securing a winning bid. A good buyer’s agent may have additional information about the neighborhood you desire, possible listings that may not be advertised, and a referral network of auxiliary services you may require during the home-buying process, such as appraisers or home inspectors.

Listing agents are also known as seller’s agents. A skilled listing agent understands how and where to get the word out about your property. This may include searchable websites, open house events, and direct personal marketing. Listing agents also assist you in establishing the best price point for your home and can help in staging your property to attract buyers.

Finding a real estate agent

Most people begin their search for an agent by asking friends, coworkers, and relatives if they know of an agent they enjoyed working with. Others turn to the internet. But once you are given a name, how do you know if that agent is the right fit? Here are some things to investigate to help you make your decision.

How much experience do they have?

Is this agent new to the trade, or have they been in the business for years? Veteran agents will have assembled a portfolio of successes that they are more than happy to share. Check out their website for professionalism, current listings, and past sales. And be sure to verify their credentials with the state real estate board and Realtor associations.

Do they have assistants who will help me?

Agencies sometimes utilize assistants to help with the multitude of details and tasks involved in a real estate transaction. These individuals may photograph properties, place and track advertisements, install signage, and schedule home tours.

How much commission do they expect?

In a typical transaction, the seller covers the cost of the commission or agent’s fee. Commission rates, on average, are five to six percent, and while there may be room for negotiation, most agents hold firm to their expectations.

Check the reviews from previous clients

Reviews are important, and there’s no shortage of online review sites. Remember that glowing reviews on an agent’s website are there for a reason: to make the agent look good. Similarly, bad reviews on a general review site may be a one-off or written by someone with an axe to grind. It’s much better to ask the agent for references. Such referrals will still be skewed toward the positive, but checking references allows you to ask detailed questions about the entire real estate experience.

What makes a good buyer’s agent?

As a buyer, you are entrusting an agent with an important milestone in life. There are a few specific things to consider when selecting a buyer’s agent.

Finding options within your limits

Before you begin the buying process, you will want to get pre-approved for a mortgage. A good agent will want to know the high and low end of your price range, the features you require, your wish-list amenities, and the neighborhoods you are considering. They will then connect you with properties that align with your search preferences and budget.

Getting a better price

Many factors influence a home’s price, from the urgency of the seller to the basic laws of supply and demand. A skilled buyer’s agent knows how to negotiate expertly with the seller. The agent professionally guides you through making realistic and competitive offers and counter-offers.

Setting realistic expectations

Good agents are in tune with the local market. They know the history of home sales and listings in the area and can guide your search in specific locales. Similarly, a skilled buyer’s agent may introduce you to other areas where your budget will go further, as the homes might offer more features for your desired price.

What makes a good listing agent?

As a seller, you’re probably aiming for the highest sale price and the fastest timeframe possible. While some ten percent of homeowners sell without the assistance of a listing agent, homes sold by owner fetched just two-thirds of agent-assisted sales, according to a NAR survey in 2022. Thus, it’s best to team up with a pro. Here are some things to consider when selecting a seller’s agent.

They know how to market a house

The most successful listing agents have a host of innovative marketing techniques up their sleeves. A savvy listing agent knows how to make a strong virtual impression with your listing, with professional-grade photography and video and compelling descriptions that capture the beauty and amazing features of your property.

They know how to transform a house for selling

Prepping a home for sale is a job in and of itself. Experienced seller’s agents can advise on which renovations or upgrades will be well worth the effort. Agents also help stage the house, emphasizing openness, design, and adaptability. They know how to exhibit just enough furnishings and decorative detail to allow potential home buyers to imagine themselves and their own personal items in the space.

They know how to set the asking price

Agents who have been selling in an area for a longer period know the ups and downs of the local market. They have seen properties bought and sold for years. Their goal is to assist you in setting a realistic listing price—one that achieves your margin target while also being attractive to buyers.

They know comparable listings based on experience

Yours is not the first house a seasoned agent will have seen. They are familiar with the properties of the local community and pay close attention to sales even beyond their own agency or brokerage. This in-depth knowledge of the area is an aid to you, the seller, who may be unfamiliar with the many transactions that take place in any given year. While you may have seen a “for sale” sign and noted a new homeowner on your street, your agent has that insight for the broader community. Their experience gained in selling homes over time is their greatest asset and your biggest benefit.

Team up with an expert

Finding a good real estate agent can take the anxiety out of the buying or selling process. If you’re searching for the right agent in the Big Sky area, reach out to the Zaremba Potts Group. The team is dedicated to going above and beyond to make all their clients’ dreams a reality.

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