US News & World Report quoted me in 6 Tips for Choosing a Real Estate Agent. It opens,
Selling a home has become easier over the years with online services to help the seller set a price and advertise, but most homeowners still hire a real estate agent.
While many agents have deep experience and know their markets intimately, newcomers abound – people looking to cash in when the market is hot and may not even work at the job full time. So experts advise homeowners to look carefully for an agent with the right combination of experience, knowledge, work ethic and personality.
What is a Realtor? Typically an agent is someone licensed by the state to sell real estate, while a broker is a manager of a team of agents. A Realtor is a member of the National Association of Realtors, the industry’s main trade group, which requires members abide by certain ethical standards. Experts suggest sellers use agents who have received more than minimum training required in their state.
“In California, the requirements for a real estate salesperson’s license are very low, basically, three classes and a test,” says Bryan Zuetel, a real estate attorney and broker in Orange County, California.
“Almost any agent can get a listing, enter the property into the (multiple listing service), create some flyers, hold open houses and fill in blanks on the contract forms,” Zuetel says. “However, most agents do not understand, but should understand, the complex contract terms, implications of an unhappy party in the transaction, legal requirements for the numerous disclosures, appropriate negotiations during the escrow period, conflict resolution via mediation or arbitration, and the remedies under the contract.”
Do your homework. Law professor David Reiss, academic program director at The Center for Urban Business Entrepreneurship at Brooklyn Law School, says it’s important to check out a prospective agent with previous sellers.
“Some real estate agents are great at pitching themselves but not great at marketing homes once they have the listing,” Reiss says. “Getting recommendations from friends and relatives will give you information that the agent herself or himself would not provide. Do they return phone calls promptly? Are they creative problem solvers? Do they educate themselves about the pros and cons of the home and (comparable properties in the area)?”