What to expect when working with a realtor

How do you find the right agent? How do realtors get paid? How does working with an agent benefit me?

These are common questions asked by buyers and sellers when thinking about hiring a real estate agent. Whether you’re a first time buyer, purchased a previous property without the help of an agent, or listed a home for sale by the owner, some buyers and sellers don’t know what to expect when working with an agent.

Real estate agents are professionals whose job it is to make the buying and selling process easier. The following guide can help both buyers and sellers know what to expect when working with a realtor.


For buyers

1. Be clear about expectations

Realtors are not psychics – they cannot understand what you want unless you communicate with them! Be clear with your realtor about your budget, wants, and needs. Not only will this prevent your realtor from showing you houses that don’t meet your needs, but it will also help them focus their home search into the right properties for you and your family.

2. Understand the commission structure

One of the most common questions buyers have is about how their real estate agent is paid. In the majority of sales, the cost of commission is paid by the seller; the commission is split between the seller’s listing agent and the buying agent. Some realtors, particularly those finding rental properties, charge a flat rate which covers a set number of hours.

3. Be ready to buy

When you hire a buyer’s agent, make sure you’re ready to buy! Some agents require a letter of pre-approval from a lender or a proof of funds before they will take on new buyers. Be respectful of an agent’s time; if you simply want to “see what’s out there” visit advertised open houses instead.

For sellers

1. Start by choosing the right realtor

In addition to commercial and residential agents, there are realtors who specialize in a variety of different properties. Find an agent who is familiar with your neighborhood; an agent specializes in downtown lofts and apartments may not be the best choice for a sprawling suburban ranch.


2. Have honest conversations about pricing

Pricing a home competitively will help it sell faster – and for closer to asking price. Sellers should expect to have honest conversations about pricing with their realtor. Remember that realtors are professionals who deal with hundreds of properties per year; pricing recommendations are based on market trends, square footage, features, and more.

3. Expect regular communication

Real estate agents will check in throughout the selling process. In addition to updating sellers about showings or offers, realtors often contact their clients with information such as other properties that have been listed in the neighborhood or feedback from agents or buyers after an open house. Realtors and sellers will continue to communicate frequently throughout the escrow process to schedule inspections, finalize paperwork, and more.

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