Whether you are buying or selling a home, finding the right realtor for your needs can be tough. You can't just look on the internet for the nearest person to help you with one of the biggest purchases of your life. You need someone that is not only licensed to do the job, but also experienced enough to do it right.
1. Family: This comes with a caveat. Asking your grandparents for real estate advice when they haven't purchased a house since 1947 and they think $60,000 is a bit pricey for a house is not the best decision on your part. If, however, your family -- parents, siblings, or grandparents -- have purchased a house recently with a qualified agent that they would recommend, talk to them. Ask what they liked about the person or the process as well as what they didn't. Likewise, check around with with friends and coworkers for their recommendations.
2. Online Reviews: Some online review systems are overloaded with fake reviews. Real estate–specific websites are much harder, if not impossible, to spam. In fact, Realtor.com is run by NAR (National Association of Realtors), the licensing body for real estate agents. They do not tolerate any unethical practices in real estate.
3. Signage: If there is one realtor whose smiling face is on every for-sale sign in your target neighborhood, dig a little deeper. Realtors often 'farm' a specific area or subdivision. They are often the go-to expert for that neighborhood. They may even live there. If you don't have any recommendations from friends or family, give this person a call.
Where Not to Find an Agent
This may surprise you, but do not hire an agent from an open house. There are two reasons for this. One, it could be the listing agent that you meet. He or she works exclusively for the seller and the seller's best interests. They are not on Team You. The other reason -- and the more common one -- is that houses are generally held open by brand-new agents. New agents that need to do whatever they can to meet clients. Holding a house open for another, more experienced agent is a great way to get a list of 10 to 15 names, phone numbers, and emails and to start prospecting those people for future sales. They could be on Team You, but they need more experience first.