HOW TO PICK A REAL ESTATE AGENT
What to look for in an agent depends on whether you are buying or selling.
When BUYING, you don't want an aggressive forceful person talking you into a home which may not be the best for you. You do want an agent who is energetic yet patient, who is a good listener, someone who understands your lifestyle and takes your future into consideration.
What is really helpful is an agent familiar with home construction and local by-laws. They can usually tell that efflorescence is not mold and can explain the difference between having concrete poured basement versus a block foundation. The agent should work in the territory, familiar with the good/bad areas to live and what can you do with the home.
You want an agent who is full time, dependable and dedicated... available to write the offer and not have to run off to another job. Remember, there are agents who think this career could be part-time or as a retirement hobby. They say they are experienced, but truthfully, they're old and tired and may not want to do the work required to find you your dream home or do the analysis for your investment property.
When SELLING, the opposite type of person is better; usually an aggressive agent, with energy and marketing ideas. Pick an agent with funds, who can afford buying the advertising required to sell your home. Agents put out a lot of up-front money, time, and energy writing ads and creating promotional literature. An experienced agent can usually afford to hire someone to put out signs, deliver flyers, and promotional literature. But, agents don't get paid until after the home closes.
Don't use an out-of-town agent to sell your home (or relatives!). A seller's agent who is not from the area may list your home over the market price, the result is an expired listing and no sale. Good potential buyers won't even look at overpriced homes. So, fewer viewings = longer on the market. Then buyers question why, what's wrong with it? It's better to price it right, bringing in more buyers and maybe even competition with perhaps an even higher sale price.
Be ready to sell. De-clutter inside and remember curb appeal... you don't get a second chance to make a first impression.
When it comes to commission, you get what you pay for. I've seen buyer's agents who won't show homes with discounted commissions and seller's agents who can't spend as much on your advertising because of the reduced commission.
How to pick a real estate agent varies with their job. It's helpful to look for someone with connections such as lawyers, mortgage brokers, and maintenance providers. Interview at least three agents looking for the personality you can work with. And, ask lots of questions. In general, the best traits to look for are... good at negotiations, have knowledge/competence and have lots of energy.