Find the Right Realtor: 9 Tips from Happy Homeowners

It's quite the challenge to find the qualified candidate to lead you into the world of real estate, no matter whether you're looking to sell or looking to buy. Here, we've picked the brains of homeowners who've done it before and have since lived happily ever after to get their best tips on choosing the right real estate agent for the job.

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  1. Start with a Referral

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    When we were looking for a new home, we reached out to our network to find out if our friends had great experiences with their real estate agents. Asking someone we knew and trusted for a referral was a great way for us to shorten the research process. Once we had a number of leads, it was easy to call each of the agents to check their credentials and experience. —Fanta M., Chicago, IL

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  2. Check Credentials

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    Before choosing an agent, you should definitely do some background research. Google the name of the candidates you're considering, and check the State Licensing Department for Real Estate to see if there are any violations recorded in their name. In most cases, it's better to hire a Realtor rather than a sales agent because they agree to follow a formal Code of Ethics. —Curt G., Philadelphia, PA

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  3. Ask Around

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    When we were searching for our house, we even called past clients of the agent we were looking at working with. If they're satisfied, there is a good chance that you will be too. They'll also be able to tell you about how the agent did in negotiations. —Shalom E., Hamden, CT

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  4. Local Knowledge

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    Try to find an agent who lives in the town where you're looking. Nobody knows a place like its residents do. Plus, an in-town realtor may have an advantage when it comes to being aware of listings that've not yet come on the market. —Frank S., Beverly, MA

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  5. Make Sure You're a Match

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    It's important to make sure that you and your agent get along! It sounds simple, but you'll be spending a lot of time with them and you want to make sure you both understand each other. And it helps to have a little fun along the way. —Katherine L., Hempstead, NY


    Related: Brokers Reveal 7 "Works Every Time" Ways to Boost Home Resale Value

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  6. Honesty Policy

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    Make sure your agent is working for you. It was important that I felt my real estate agent was listening to my wife and I and actually acting on what we wanted, not pushing us toward listings that didn't fit the bill. More than that, we also needed someone who wasn't afraid to tell us when we were asking for things that were not realistic or possible, like with an offer amount or terms. That honesty factor is huge for us. —Justin M., Syracuse, NY

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  7. On the Clock

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    When my wife and I were in the market for a weekend house, we knew exactly what we wanted and refused to settle. The search ended up taking about two years. Along the way, we worked with a few different agents. The one we liked best and stuck with, she was the one who really understood that we were in no rush. I advise other house-hunters to develop a strategy and to focus on agents who appreciate your approach. —Adrian R., Hillsdale, NY

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  8. Negotiation Matters

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    If you're a buyer, your agent gets paid by the seller—not by you—so a higher sales price means a higher commission for them. Look for someone who is willing to negotiate to your benefit, and make sure from the outset that you've found someone who will listen to what you want (and don't want) in a new home. —Patrick P., Atlanta, GA

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  9. Don't Be Afraid to Switch

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    Our first realtor wasn't attentive to our needs on the search for our new home. After two months, when someone asked us, “Would you pay him to do what he is doing for you?” we realized things wouldn't work between us and this agent. So, we went out on our own, contacting listing agents when we found houses that we liked. At the very next house that went to go look at, we found our next realtor in its listing agent—and our experiences with him were like night and day.  —Kati O., Norton, OH

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  10. For more...

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