There are a lot of agents out there so when you are ready to buy or sell property, how do you know which one to choose?

  1. LEARN WHAT TITLES MEAN: Real estate agent, Broker, Realtor®.

A “real estate agent” has taken classes and passed an exam to get a license. A “broker” has continued their education, must have 2 years’ experience as a licensed salesperson and a minimum number of sales transactions. A Broker can hire agents to work under them. A “Realtor” can be either an agent or broker who is a member of the National Association of Realtors®. Realtors must adhere to the “Code of Ethics” to treat their clients honestly and fairly.

Many agents choose to specialize in certain areas of real estate. Ever wonder what all those letters behind the agent’s name mean?

CRS (Certified Residential Specialist) only the top 3% of agents in the country carry this designation. Between their experience and continued education, these agents have completed some of the most advanced training in the industry.

ABR (Accredited Buyer’s Rep) completed additional education and focus on representing buyers in a transaction.

SRES (Seniors Real Estate Specialist) completed specialized training in assisting buyers and sellers in the 50+ age group.

According to the National Association of Realtors, there are at least 25 designations of higher education available to realtors. Look for a realtor who takes their profession seriously and has continued their education with specialized designations.

  1. Ask your FRIENDS FOR referrals but also conduct a preliminary search on-line.
    Take a close look at the realtor’s current listings. Check out their website or; a data base of properties listed on the MLS. You want to find a realtor who is very familiar with your area, not just one who can pull listings up on line. A good question to ask your friends would be, know any realtors who have sold properties in my area in the past year? Using an agent unfamiliar with your area can spell disaster!
  1. Test your realtor’s communication skills:
    Once you have found some good prospects, call or email the agents and see how long it takes them to respond. It’s always a good sign if the agent answers their phone. If it takes days for the agent to return your phone call or email, just think about how frustrated you will become when you are wondering how that last showing went.

    Ask about other houses or properties nearby. See what info the agent is willing to share with you about other properties that are not their listings. This will show you how cooperative they will be with other agents and their listings. You want an agent who will show you all possibilities, not just their own listings.

  2. Research how long the agent has been in business.
    You should be looking for someone who is actively engaged in a particular area and what kind of market presence they have. Do they work in real estate full time or just as a hobby? Check the state licensing agency at the Montana Board of realty Regulation in Helena.

  3. Probe their experience: Don’t be afraid to ask an agent tough questions.

  • How long have you been in business? Aim for realtors with at least two years’ experience.

  • How many houses did you sell last year? Look for agents with double digit sales.

  • What percentage of your listings do you sell? Ideally you want an agent who has sold an average of 60-80% of their own listings.
  • What is the actual list price to sale price ratio for your listings? This can fluctuate by market, however this number should be in the 95% or less.

A good agent should be able to explain things to you and take the time to answer all your questions to your satisfaction. You should play a part in your real estate transaction, a big part. After all, this is the largest financial transaction most people make in their lifetimes.

A good agent will make all the difference in how smooth and stress free your transaction will be.