There is no easy answer to this, but you can't simply rely on looks and gut feelings either. After all you are probably making the most important decision of your life, and a good choice can put thousands of extra dollars in your pocket. That's why you need to make sure you carefully assess your choices before making any commitments.
Don’t be afraid Say No
You probably have at least one or two friends or relatives who are real estate agents. They are the first people to find out about your decision, and will definitely try to persuade you to hire them. Even though it’s great to be able to work with an agent that you also know very closely, that doesn’t mean that a relative would necessarily be your best choice, financially. Politely explain that you need to do your due-diligence before you hire anyone, and you’d definitely consider their services if you find that they are your fit.
Always check out a real estate agent’s website
Never underestimate the value of a real estate agent’s website. A real estate agent’s job is to market properties (either to promote a seller’s property or to funnel the right properties for buyers) and his/her website is their storefront. An impressive, frequently updated website demonstrates how dedicated the website’s owner is to marketing. A website that automatically pushes random listings just to keep the website full, is not good enough! You need to be smart and carefully examine what properties (if any) are specifically featured on the website. Find evidence that the agent is actively utilizing the website to service his/her clients, by frequently updating and promoting the website.
Evaluate a real estate agent’s Social Media
If you want to find out that a real estate agent is customer centric, social media is your go-to place. Check out your agent’s Facebook fan page, Instagram, linked-in profile, etc. and see how actively he/she uses these platforms to network, market and socialize with clients. Do you see client interactions in form of post likes and comments? do you see pictures and reviews from clients? Has the agent used their social reach to promote properties and services? These are important details that can tell you a lot about how much you will matter to the agent once you sign that contract.
See the real estate agent in action
Nothing can speak louder of how good an agent is, than seeing them in action for yourself. Go to one or two open house events hosted by the agent and see how you like the way he/she handles the whole occasion. Do you like the way they have set up the place? How were you greeted? Were there feature sheets and other marketing material available? How is the quality of the marketing material presented? Were you effectively registered and did you receive any follow up material? You can expect to receive as much service and attention as you see demonstrated by the agent, on the ground.
Google the real estate agent
Google can dig a lot about a real estate agent. See if you can find reviews from past clients. Find out about the brokerage and the reputation of the office they work in. See if there has been any negative or positive comments posted on the internet. See if you can find any events sponsored by the agent, or if there are promotions or ads mentioning them. Find out on how many online real estate platforms the agent is registered, and the extent to which he/she has been able to establish an online presence. The more you see the name of the agent you are Googling, probably the more active he/she is.
Always interview the real estate agents
Finally, once you have short-listed the agents that you feel have what it takes to fulfill your expectations, arrange an in-person interview and discuss your requirements with them. See what they have to say and how they propose to serve you better. If you have done everything mentioned above, you have enough information about the agents that you are interviewing and can verify everything that you have found out about them. Make the most of your time with them to make the best choice possible.