How to choose a real estate professional

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There can be a lot of anxiety in finding the right person to help you buy or sell a home. After all, buyers will be spending a lot of time with their agents throughout the process, and those agents are helping them through arguably one of the biggest decisions of their lives. How could anyone possibly find the right real estate agent?

According to the National Association of Realtors’ latest profile of homebuyers and sellers, potential buyers should talk to friends and family to get their agent suggestions. In fact, 40 percent of buyers found their agents through a referral from friends, family members or neighbors, while another 12 percent used agents they had worked with before. On the seller side, 38 percent of sellers found their agents through referrals and 22 percent went with agents they had previously used.

Be sure to interview the Realtor before you hire him or her. Here are a few key questions you may want to ask during the interview process:

What types of specific marketing products and methods will be used to sell my home? It is important for you to know how your home will be marketed and that you agree and trust the approach. This includes how quick the real estate agent will respond to inquiries about the property.

How will I be kept informed about the progress of my transaction? How frequently?  Communication is key to any relationship. Real estate professionals adjust to what their clients prefer, but you must tell them if you prefer emails, texts or phone calls, for example, and how frequently you expect to hear from them. 

Will you represent me exclusively, or will you represent both the buyer and the seller in the transaction?  A real estate professional will explain his or her agency relationship with you right in the beginning. You will also receive a brochure with a written explanation. Listen and read carefully to understand your options.

The most important question for your real estate agent: Is he or she a Realtor and a member of the Hilton Head Area Association of Realtors? Seek out a professional who is invested in his or her profession and abides by the strict code of ethics established by the National Association of Realtors.

Jean Beck is the executive vice president of the Hilton Head Area Association of Realtors.

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