Choosing a real estate broker is an important step in a real estate transaction. A good broker can save a transaction that may have otherwise fallen through. A broker who is not as good may leave a buyer or seller regretting their decision for years to come.
To choose a real estate broker, it is recommended that an individual interview at least three real estate brokers. Ideally, the interview and selection process will be quick, so as not to miss out on potential buyers or sellers. Brokers who do not respond quickly weed themselves out. Do not share confidential information or sign a contract until you are sure who you will work with.
Some states may require virtually anyone who speaks to a real estate agent to sign a disclosure, but this does not bind the person to work with the agent.
A real estate broker is a fiduciary for a buyer, seller, landlord, or renter in a real estate transaction. Real estate brokers educate, advise, and facilitate their fiduciary throughout the process. Real estate agents owe fiduciary interest to the person who hires them. This includes an acronym called OLD CAR, which stands for obedience, loyalty, disclosure, confidentiality, and reasonable skill and care.
Beyond basic duties, a real estate agent gets a clear understanding of the needs of the party they represent and handles any showings, whether that involves attending them or scheduling them. Real estate brokers connect their fiduciary with any other professionals they need throughout the transaction. A broker constantly advises the fiduciary of all their options and tells them when they need to seek legal counsel.
What’s the Difference Between a Broker and a Real Estate Agent?
The difference between a broker and a real estate agent depends on the state the real estate professionals work in. Some states recognize all licensed real estate professionals as real estate agents or real estate brokers, and the two terms are often used interchangeably. There are real estate professionals who receive additional training to manage others. These are called brokers or brokers in charge, depending on the state’s terminology.
Since the public uses the terms real estate agent, real estate broker, and even Realtor as blanket terms for the real estate profession, someone searching for a real estate agent online would likely have no trouble finding local professionals by typing in any of the terms.
Characteristics of a Good Real Estate Broker
A good real estate agent is competent in the real estate process, is up to date on local market trends, communicates effectively, and is diligent about following the law. Since a real estate agent may be in close contact for many months, it is also beneficial to find a real estate agent you get along with.
Cultural competence may be an important factor in selecting a real estate agent. For example, if decisions are made en masse in your culture, it is important to find an agent who won’t be upset about multiple carloads of people coming to a showing. If you observe a weekly holy day, find an agent who will not push you to have showings on that day.
Look for a quality online presence. Statistics show that most people search for real estate online, so you want a real estate agent who has digital marketing skills. Ask the real estate agent how often they are in contact with their clients on the average week because poor communication is a common complaint.
Where Can You Find a Real Estate Broker?
The easiest way to find a real estate broker is to look for one in a search engine. Local real estate associations publish agent directories. You can also find an agent by visiting or calling the office of a local real estate company.
Recommendations can be a great resource as well. Local mortgage brokers are unbiased people who are privy to the intimate details of many real estate transactions.
Important Interview Questions to Ask Your Potential Broker
What are your working hours?
Whether a real estate agent works full-time or part-time, it is important to make sure that your agent’s general schedule works with yours.
How familiar are you with a certain area?
For both buyers and sellers, it is often best to use an agent who has experience in the specific town or part of town you want to buy in. Ask for recent examples of transactions in the particular area that the agent has been involved in.
How long have you been in real estate?
To receive a real estate license, an agent needs to know the laws. Hands-on training about aspects of the profession that are more relevant to buyers and sellers depends on the company the agent works for. Often, the best way to know that an agent is competent is based on the number of years they worked or the number of transactions they have closed.
What is your marketing plan?
For sellers, it is important to find a real estate agent with a clear marketing plan. Some agents send out properties to a large network of potential buyers and pay for advertisements from a variety of sources. Other agents simply list homes in the local Multiple Listing System.
How will we communicate?
Make sure the real estate agent is comfortable communicating through the means that are easiest for you to use. Each real estate agent is essentially his or her own business entity. Some are very particular about the means and times for communication.
Check References Thoroughly
Ask a real estate agent to provide references. Some may provide names and numbers of people they have worked with. Others may provide links to video testimonials. Listen carefully to any references to see how well the agent overcame any problems you may experience.
Of course, new agents may not have references, but there are some advantages to working with a new agent. New agents have no biases, so they are more likely to be open to modern marketing methods. In most states, new agents are under the direct supervision of a broker in charge or similar title, so clients often get the benefit of years of expertise when working with a new agent.
Most areas have plenty of real estate brokers to choose from. Diligent buyers and sellers should carefully choose an agent they enjoy working with and who will care for their best interests.