Real estate transactions are complicated. If you are like most home sellers, one of your most significant assets is on the line when it comes time to sell, making the process stressful. Finding the right real estate agent to sell your home is key to having a successful and low-stress real estate experience. However, not all real estate agents are created equal. Some agents personally involve themselves at every step along the way, while some delegate a lot of the work to others, or just sit back and wait for phone calls and emails to arrive.

Before you begin your search for your perfect agent, it is important to understand exactly what (or who) you are looking to hire. Many people use the terms “realtor” and “real estate agent” interchangeably when they are not the same thing. A real estate agent is a professional who has earned a real estate license from the state in which they practice. Meanwhile, a realtor is a real estate agent who has earned additional certification from the National Association of Realtors, and thus subscribes to and is held to a strict code of ethics.

However, the individual agent and what their company has to offer is far more important to a seller than the type, or name of the real estate agency. What may count the most is their good reputation in their community and word-of-mouth. For real estate agents of all stripes, their reputation is as important as any part of their business.

For the most part, the particular title of the real estate professional you work with isn’t as important as their level of commitment, energy, and local knowledge they have to offer. But trying to find the perfect real estate agent for you and your needs takes legwork and can be a challenge. The last thing you want to do is pick one at random. To make the process a little less confusing, check out our tips for choosing the right agent for you and your needs:

Attend open houses and community events

One of the most effective and popular ways to find a seller’s agent is via a quick online search. Real estate agents know that most home buyers and sellers begin their search online and invest time and resources into making themselves searchable and visible. Popular real estate websites such as Zillow, Trulia, and Redfin can help you discover agents in your market. You can learn a lot from an agent’s online presence, such as their years of experience, a general idea of how highly former clients rate them, and how in-demand they are.

Another effective method for finding a seller’s agent is by attending open houses. Open houses are not just for potential home buyers. They are perfect opportunities to check out your potential agent. Visiting open houses will give you a glimpse into how they work: their staging preferences, marketing strategies, and more importantly, their personalities. Select a few local agents and attend an open house with the mindset of working with the agent.

Dedicated agents are also involved in their communities. They often sponsor youth sports teams or programs, especially if they are part of a real estate team. You can often meet them by attending community events, or by asking your local small business owners for a referral.

Ask for lots of different types of referrals

Referrals are the lifeblood of an agent’s business. As previously mentioned, you can ask business owners or other local leaders for referrals, but you may also ask the agent for a list of past clients who may be open to being contacted about their experience. And don’t forget to ask friends and family who have spoken positively about their experience selling their homes. Gather as many unbiased reviews as possible.

Do your due diligence

Once you’ve found a few seller’s agents to consider, your next step should be to look into the agent’s licensing status on your state’s real estate board. Your state’s board will feature important information on the agent’s standing and license status, such as if they have ever been subject to disciplinary action.

After examining their status, you should conduct interviews with at least three potential candidates. Your success will depend on how well the agent’s style and personality mesh with your own, so this is an important step. By talking to them, ideally in person, you will get a feel for them and how a working relationship with them may play out. Ask them about their experience in your neighborhood and city, and exactly how often you can expect to hear from them. Ask for references and be sure to follow up with them in a timely manner. Evaluate your prospective agents based on personality as well; if you clash with them, your experience may not go well.

Also, ask about their current workload – are they able to devote the time and resources necessary to effectively sell your home, despite their high demand? To that end, also consider working with a real estate team. Agents who work in a team, or with the support of a team, have greater bandwidth than an agent who works on their own.

Listen to their listing presentations

The purpose of a listing presentation is to give you an idea of how the agent would prepare your home for sale, how they would market it to potential buyers, and the listing price they suggest. Each agent will have their own philosophy, style, and ideas. A quality agent will be happy to tell you exactly how they would approach selling your home and will be open to questions.

The agent you hire will ultimately be responsible for the sales process from start to finish, which includes representing you and your interests when negotiating with potential buyers. It is vital that you choose an agent with the right experience, workload, resources, and personality who can not only manage the entire process seamlessly but who can also secure top dollar for your home. Contact us today to see how we can use all of our resources to get you top dollar in the Inland Empire.