This account is pending registration confirmation. Please click on the link within the confirmation email previously sent you to complete registration.
Need a new registration confirmation email? Click here
TheStreet Open House

How to Pick the Best Real Estate Agent for You

You've got to sell a piece of property to sell, and you're determined to do so during the current real estate wasteland, where it seems that every house on the street is an "open" and buyers with a decent down payment and credit report are more scarce than milkmen.

You need some professional help.

In selecting an agent or a Realtor to handle the sale, a friend recommends a guy he worked with who knows the neighborhood well, spends time getting to know your property and even brings home-baked cookies to hand out during open houses.

Your other option is a woman whose face is on billboards and bus stops, and while you're still in the first minute describing the property to her she tells you she has three buyers desperate for a house like yours and will guarantee to sell it in a month.

So who do you go with?

Whether you're buying or selling, picking a real estate agent may be your toughest decision.

"It's really about personality and who you trust will work in your best interests," says Stephanie Gieseler, a Honolulu Realtor. "The one who promises the moon and the stars may not be able to deliver, but your B.S. meter could be turned off because you want to sell so badly. If you can, take some time to pick the right person for you."

Here are some tips to help:

  • Look at the names on the local "for sale" signs. Hopefully, there are at least a few pros who specialize in your neighborhood and compete against each other. If one name dominates the rest, he or she isn't always the best choice. Your property could get lost among all the other listings. Look for an up-and-comer who might be hungrier to make a sale.
  • Total honesty in a real estate agent or Realtor is critical. If you're selling a house in Brookline, Mass., you want your agent to tell you that all the New York Yankee memorabilia in your den should be boxed up, lest it offend a Red Sox fan/home shopper who'd otherwise be inclined to buy.
  • Place a call to the local board of Realtors. Many can let you know about members in good standing and those who have been receiving complaints.
  • Realtors often have an alphabet soup of designations on their business cards that show added training they've received. Some of these focus on the types of properties sold such as selling and buying vacation homes or advanced marketing. Others concentrate on client needs, which can be important. A senior real estate specialist, for instance, focuses on clients who are usually buying or selling into retirement.

    "That's really very critical," says Gieseler. "For many of these people it's not just a business transaction, it's a changing of their lives. If you're helping parents with a move, it's wise to look for someone with that training."

  • Odds are you've got to make a killer presentation to earn someone's business. Why should a real estate agent be any different? If he or she walks in, looks around, throws out an estimate of the selling price and hands over the listing agreement for your signature, make sure you ask how they got that price and show you the comps to prove it. A good real estate pro might know instinctively what a house will go for, but he or she should be able to break it down for you before the paperwork is signed.

Overall, find someone who fits your style.

"If you're detail-oriented, you won't do well with someone who's laid back," says Gieseler. "And a detail-oriented Realtor might make a laid-back client crazy. It's a big transaction, which is why finding the right person is so important."

Select the service that is right for you!

COMPARE ALL SERVICES
Action Alerts PLUS
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer and Stephanie Link actively manage a real portfolio and reveal their money management tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.

Product Features:
  • $2.5+ million portfolio
  • Large-cap and dividend focus
  • Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
  • Weekly roundups
TheStreet Quant Ratings
Try it NOW
Only $49.95/yr

Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.

Product Features:
  • Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
  • Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
  • A custom stock screener
  • Upgrade/downgrade alerts
Stocks Under $10
Try it NOW

David Peltier, uncovers low dollar stocks with extraordinary upside potential that are flying under Wall Street's radar.

Product Features:
  • Model portfolio
  • Stocks trading below $10
  • Intraday trade alerts
  • Weekly roundups
Dividend Stock Advisor
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer's protege, David Peltier, identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.

Product Features:
  • Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
  • Alerts when market news affect the portfolio
  • Bi-weekly updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
Real Money Pro
Try it NOW

All of Real Money, plus 15 more of Wall Street's sharpest minds delivering actionable trading ideas, a comprehensive look at the market, and fundamental and technical analysis.

Product Features:
  • Real Money + Doug Kass Plus 15 more Wall Street Pros
  • Intraday commentary & news
  • Ultra-actionable trading ideas
Options Profits
Try it NOW

Our options trading pros provide daily market commentary and over 100 monthly option trading ideas and strategies to help you become a well-seasoned trader.

Product Features:
  • 100+ monthly options trading ideas
  • Actionable options commentary & news
  • Real-time trading community
  • Options TV
To begin commenting right away, you can log in below using your Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, OpenID or Yahoo login credentials. Alternatively, you can post a comment as a "guest" just by entering an email address. Your use of the commenting tool is subject to multiple terms of service/use and privacy policies - see here for more details.
Submit an article to us!
DOW 17,207.17 +50.32 0.29%
S&P 500 2,005.41 +3.84 0.19%
NASDAQ 4,576.3740 +14.1850 0.31%

Brokerage Partners

Rates from Bankrate.com

  • Mortgage
  • Credit Cards
  • Auto

Free Newsletters from TheStreet

My Subscriptions:

After the Bell

Before the Bell

Booyah! Newsletter

Midday Bell

TheStreet Top 10 Stories

Winners & Losers

Register for Newsletters
Top Rated Stocks Top Rated Funds Top Rated ETFs