If you read most articles about how to select a real estate agent, many will advise you to select an agent with extensive experience. At first glance that would seem to be sound logic. Experienced agents often come to you through referrals from friends or family who have used them with good results. It’s hard to beat a good referral for an agent. But what would you do if you don’t have a referral to an experienced agent? How would you find a reliable agent?
With the advent of social media, you could always go online and try to find one. You can always go to a real estate company website and browse through their agent webpages. But would you automatically rule out a fairly new agent? The answer should be, “it depends”. Here’s why: keep in mind that a brand new agent is chocked full of brand new training. They’re likely to be even more up to date on the latest rules, technology, and sales techniques than the experienced agents! I know of agents who have been in the business for many many years who still do not have a smart phone. It’s hard to imagine being in the real estate business these days without one. I also know of some who refuse to adopt the latest technology in computer software to make transactions easier and faster. They’re still great agents, they just choose not to learn the new systems. We now have automated search software, programs to automatically send out periodic emails to clients, software for preparing contracts/documents, and electronic signature software. Some long time agents are still filling out contracts by hand (to their benefit, there are some times where that’s the right thing to do) and then faxing or hand delivering the contracts. It can all be done at the push of a button these days and the electronic signatures are every bit as valid and binding as ink on paper signatures.
A word of caution on choosing a new agent: look for credentials that indicate training beyond that required to obtain a license! A new agent with zero additional certifications/designations has only the bare minimum education required to get their license. That’s not necessarily a bad thing but it depends on the agent. Some passed their tests with ease and know everything they need to know to handle your transactions smoothly. Some, however, barely squeaked by. How do you know which is which? It’s simple, you can’t. But what you can do is look for additional training. The National Association of Realtors offers specialized training for already licensed agents. While there are many certifications and designations, at a minimum I’d recommend looking for either a GRI (Graduate, Realtors Institute) or CRS (Certified Residential Specialist) designation. Both indicate extensive additional general real estate education and both require passing several tests. The CRS designation is the more difficult of the two but brand new agents rarely have it since it does require a minimum number of successful closings in addition to training. If you’re facing a foreclosure or short sale, look for an SFR (Short Sale/Foreclosure Resource) certification. You might also consider looking for an e-PRO certification. This indicates that the agent has been extensively trained in the use of social media. Social media is fast becoming essential in the real estate business these days. Agents who use Facebook business pages, Twitter, LinkedIn, SocialBios, Google+, Yelp, blogs, and active websites are far more likely to drum up interest in both themselves and in your property for sale. If you’d like more information of certifications/designations, visit the National Association of Realtors website.
In addition to looking for the extra training, consider the fact that new agents not only have more time to handle your transaction, they’re also hungry! They’re far more likely to have both the time and the desire to hold open houses as well as to do everything else they can to sell your house. They want and need the money!
Last, but certainly not least, look for agents who are members in good standing with all of their local and national real estate associations. There are normally local associations (Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors), state (Minnesota Association of Realtors), and national (National Association of Realtors). Members must adhere to a strict Code of Ethics and must demonstrate a high level of professionalism.
So before you rule out the new guys, look for the training. By the way, I just happen to have e-PRO, SFR, and a GRI designation (quite the coincidence!). Best of luck in all your real estate transactions!