What Makes a Good Real Estate Agent?

Bethany White December 16, 2021 | 5 min read
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Whether it’s your first time buying or selling a house or you’ve been around the block before, the right real estate agent can make all the difference. But how do you know what makes a good real estate agent? Time for some real estate real talk.

What makes a good real estate agent for home buyers?

Your real estate agent is one of the most important players in the purchase process when it comes to sticking to your budget and narrowing down your home search. It’s a big job, so make sure it’s a good fit before you commit. As a buyer, your agent should have:

  1. In-depth knowledge of the local area
  2. A track record of closing quickly, for less than the asking price
  3. Clear communication expectations
  4. Strong negotiation skills

1. In-depth knowledge of the local area

Much of the housing market varies by location, even down to the street you might be living on. If your real estate agent doesn’t know the area well, they might not be able to negotiate your price based on comparable homes in the same market.

2. Track record of closing quickly, for less than the asking price

To avoid going over your budget, you’ll want a real estate agent who has a proven track record of negotiating a lower final price than what the seller initially asked for. Ideally, they also close quickly. After all, saving money is less satisfying when it keeps you from moving into your new home sooner.

3. Clear communication expectations

We think this is a good rule for any relationship—but we’re not here to talk about your love life. From the start, let your real estate agent know how you’d prefer to be contacted, how often, and when you’re typically available. If there’s a disconnect between what you’re comfortable with and how they operate, they might not be the right agent for you.

4. Strong real estate negotiating skills

The last thing you want is a real estate agent who doesn’t go to bat for you. In addition to researching their online reviews, refer to this real estate negotiating checklist to gauge your agent’s abilities:

  • They’re skilled speakers. If they can make you feel confident and comfortable when you first meet, they can do the same with the opposite parties and keep negotiations running smoothly.
  • They have additional real estate education. Has your real estate agent taken negotiating classes or pursued additional certifications in their industry? The more they know, the more equipped they are to negotiate reasonable terms for you.
  • They know how to prioritize. Ideally, you’ll get everything you want in your home purchase—but negotiation usually entails some compromise. A good agent can recognize when to stand firm and when to back down.

Pro tip: Most real estate agents have both buyer and seller clients, but you may be able to find an Exclusive Buyer Agent (EBA) in your area who works (you guessed it) exclusively with buyers. Try this tool to find an EBA near you.

What makes a good real estate agent for home sellers?

Some indicators of a good real estate agent are universal: in-depth local area knowledge, clear communication, and strong real estate negotiating skills. But as a seller, your agent should also have:

  1. A track record of selling at or above the asking price
  2. Strong marketing strategies

1. Track record of selling at or above the asking price

To make the most of your sale, your agent should have a track record of negotiating a higher final price than what you initially asked for (or at least a record of sticking to the asking price rather than going lower, depending on the real estate market conditions at the time of the sale).

2. Strong marketing strategies

To attract the best buyers, you want to show your home off at its best. Your agent should be able to provide professional photography, accurate and enticing listings, and a strong social media presence. In the current pandemic market, their ability to offer virtual/video touring options along with in-person open houses is also an asset.

Is there anything else I need to do before choosing a real estate agent?

So, now you know what makes a good real estate agent. But before you go, let’s touch on what makes you a good real estate customer. For sellers, our house selling checklist is a great place to start. If you’re buying, consider getting prequalified for financing with your mortgage lender before choosing a real estate agent.

Prequalification is not an official approval or offer for a home loan. Think of it as an expert estimate of what you could be approved for based on basic information you provide like your income, debt, and credit score. Even though it’s not official, it helps your agent narrow down potential homes within your budget (and lets them know you’re serious about your home search). When you’re ready to get prequalified, our team is here to help.

Whether you’re buying or selling, a good real estate agent should offer strong negotiating skills, clear communication, and an in-depth knowledge of the local area.

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About the Author
When Bethany was a kid, her mom took her to the zoo, museums, and more fun spots—then made her write essays about them. Now, Bethany deploys those skills as a copywriter at Cardinal Financial and has to admit: she owes her mom one. When Bethany’s not dreaming up fresh takes on mortgage lending, you can find her running, spoiling her cat, and refusing to improve as a chef.