What should sellers look for in a real estate agent?

“I would be looking for experience,” says Susan Blau, a Keller Williams real estate broker based in Studio City, Calif. “I think I would want to interview agents and make sure I was hiring someone who was familiar with the neighborhood, that’s probably first and foremost.”

The current housing market is all about numbers and evaluating and comparing property so it is also important to have a real estate agent that understands the numbers in your market. “Numbers are really, really important right now,” Blau says. “To establish value, you have to understand the numbers and the statistics of the marketplace.”

Ben Benedetto, Blau’s husband and real estate partner, also works for Keller Williams in Studio City. As a real estate agent he said he would look for a real estate agent that is selling in your neighborhood housing market.

“If they’re actually selling homes in this market, then certainly they’re somebody you should talk to because they know what’s going on and somehow they’re pulling that off. It could be very valuable to you,” Benedetto says.

Charlotte Laws has been a real estate agent for 21 years in the Los Angeles area and she looks for a real estate agent to be a top agent.

“Being a top agent, for me, means being hardworking, having integrity, letting buyers and sellers, all my clients know that they can trust me, that I will work very hard for them and get them top dollar if they’re selling, and find them the best property and the best deal if they’re buying, and represent their interests with that integrity,” Laws says.

She believes finding a real estate agent can be intimidating for most people, especially if they are not incredibly real estate savvy. “They’re afraid to ask questions because they think, ‘oh, it makes me look stupid.’ Or you know, ‘the agent’s going to get mad at me,” Laws says.

When looking for a real estate agent, Laws thinks you should look for someone who makes you feel comfortable with the whole process. Honesty is also an important quality for her when looking for real estate agents.

“If I’m showing a house to a buyer and I’m representing the buyer and the house is listed for 1.5 and I think that the house is really worth 1.2, I am going to tell the buyer that I think it’s overpriced,” doing so would cause Laws to lose some of her commission if the house did sell for less, but she believes honesty is more important.

Questions to ask a real estate agent before you hire:

How long has he or she been in the real estate business?

How much business does he or she do? In what housing market areas?

Does he or she have references, including those from real estate companies you have worked at?

It is not unreasonable to ask a real estate agent to produce a resume for you to look at. “Absolutely, they should produce documentation to you that indicates what they’ve sold, their list of accomplishments, the number of years they’ve been in the business, what they specialize in, whether they have an agent’s license or a broker’s license and what companies they have been affiliated with,” Blau says.

For more stories on finding a real estate agent, real estate brokers, real estate and personal finance visit ThinkGlink.com.

July 7, 2008.