How to Choose an Agent

Matt Gustavson

December 5, 2019

San Diego has no shortage of real estate agents to choose from. With literally thousands of licensed agents in San Diego County alone, how do you choose the best one for your sale?

Luckily, there are a few things you can look for when deciding on agent representation:

  1. Are they a Realtor? Commonly used as interchangeable terms, agent and Realtor are actually mean two different things. An agent is anyone licensed to sell real estate in your state. A Realtor is an agent that has joined a local Realtor Association, and has committed to a higher standard of ethics and integrity. Not only does this give additional assurance that your agent is acting in your best interests and not their own, it shows that they are taking their career seriously enough to take this extra step.
  2. Do you have chemistry? While technology increasingly plays a vital role in the industry, real estate is still relies largely on person to person interactions. You will likely be spending a lot of time with your agent, and its important that you mesh well with them, enjoy their company, and trust them to listen to you and act in your interests.
  3. Do they listen? When meeting with your agent, who does most of the talking? Every real estate transaction and property is unique, and every seller has their own specific goals and wants. Your agent should have a lot of questions for you, and should know how to guide the conversation so that you are doing a lot of talking so that they completely understand your situation. If your agent talks at you or over you, that’s a bad sign.
  4. Ask for referrals. Referrals are the lifeblood for many agents. There is no greater compliment an agent can receive than to have a prior client send them more business. If you are looking in a specific area, asl local homeowners who they have worked with and trusted. If you are meeting with an agent, look up their reviews and ask if they can provide you with previous clients you can contact as references.
  5. Are they telling you everything you want to hear? When you meet with a good agent, you will likely hear some information you don’t like. This is because they want to set accurate expectations with you. Less experienced and less reputable agents may ‘buy’ listings, for example. They may tell you your house will sell for $600,000 when its actually only worth around $550,000. That big number sounds great, but isn’t honest and is most likely not going to happen. Expect that a reputable agent may estimate a lower sale price for your home, because its a real number and not a fantasy.
  6. Are they experienced? Ask for a list of previous sales, and for how those sales compare to others in the area. An experienced and reputable agent will have a history of transactions they can provide, and can speak to this.
  7. Use your resources. We live in an age where almost anything you want to know is at your fingertips online. Check reviews, research websites, and interview prospects.
  8. Don’t just hire a friend or family member. A very, very common mistake is to hire someone you know that happens to be licensed, to help their business. This is a nice thought, but please keep in mind that the difference between a capable and experienced agent and a part timer can easily mean a difference of tens of thousands of dollars or more. If your friend or family member is also a good agent, then great! If they haven’t bought or sold a home in over a year, you may be better off seeking other representation.

Hiring a real estate agent is a big decision. The right agent can mean a huge difference in the amount of money you receive from a sale or save on a purchase, and can greatly enhance the overall home buying experience. Don’t take the decision lightly- a little extra time spent evaluating candidates is well worth it in the end.

san diego real estate agent