The Types of Real Estate Agents (that matter)

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Location, location, location. Quite simply, if you get this right, it’s hard to go wrong in real estate.

If you remember nothing else, remember the importance of location:

  • Property Location: You will have to choose between the perfect location and the perfect house. Choose location. The reasons why are outside the scope of this article.
  • Agent location: The agent you’re working with should know (and have experience in) the location you’re targeting. Not at a city or county level, down to the zip codes, ideally individual streets.

With that out of the way, here’s a guide to how to choose a real estate agent. Yes, believe it or not, we’re not all the same.

Oh, and if you’re someone who is easily offended or is going to focus on the outliers, please click away. No, seriously.

The short version:

  • Some agents work with buyers.
  • Some agents work with investors
  • Some agents only work with home sellers.
  • Other: Short sales, foreclosures, divorce, luxury properties etc…

Home buyer? As long as the agent knows the location and has some experience, you’ll probably be fine with most agents.

Home seller? Agents who focus on selling properties (listing Agents) tend to be more experienced, but you’ll probably want to interview 2-3 different agents before choosing one. Make sure they know your neighborhood.

This is why it’s hard to automate the process of recommending an agent. Most people are too lazy nowadays to spend more than 5 minutes to help truly identify the right person for their needs. Sigh, sign of the times.

Longer version…

smiling blck professional

I’m Buying a Home

  • Are you a first time home buyer who needs someone to hold their hand through the process?
  • Are you an investor?
  • Are you relocating because you’re in the military?
  • Looking for a Sr community?

First Time Buyer

If you’ve educated yourself by talking to homeowners, reading online etc…that’s a good start. Even better, if you’ve actually applied for a home loan instead of looking at homes on Zillow you know you can’t afford 😂 (It’s still fun though).

Some agents love working with first time buyers. They will patiently answer all of your questions and calm your inevitable nerves.

They will work with your mortgage lender (loan officer) and/or suggest another mortgage lender to ensure your pre approval is rock solid. They will spend countless hours with you looking at home after home. They will basically be your best friend.

Other agents, frankly, don’t have time for all that.

They work with experienced buyers and/or those that are buying a home because they are selling their existing home. By the way, this is not the same as a dual agent.

I’m an Investor

Are you? No, really, do you know what you’re doing or are you basically going to waste people’s time. This is what an agent thinks, but is too polite to tell you directly when they hear that.

Investing is about buying low and selling high. We get it. But if you want an agent who will submit dozens of lowball offers on a bunch of properties, you’ll have a hard time finding an experienced agent unless you can prove you’re a credible investor.

The big boys are well known and many agents compete to work with these deep pocketed investors, not vice versa.

That said, we all start somewhere so your best bet is to find a newbie agent who has time to submit all of these offers.

Alternatively, if you’re trying to buy a $60,000 home for example, just go directly to the seller or their agent. You don’t really need your own agent.

Now, if you’re a serious investor and/or flipper and have the track record to back it up, then yes, you’ll want to work with an investor friendly agent, not one who focuses on retail buyers.

One who has relationships with contractors, who can help you analyze potential deals, who may have access to off market properties etc…Honestly, most agents do NOT fall into this category. 99% of the agents in our network don’t either.

I’m Selling a Home

Agents who exclusively work with home sellers tend to be more experienced. Not always, but as a rule of thumb.

They know how to market and advertise properties. They have relationships with other agents in the community and even relationships with potential buyers.

black female real luxury realtor picture

They know the numbers in the neighborhood and whether prices are trending up or down so they can price your home effectively. This is so important. Can’t be overstated.

It is absolutely essential that the agent you’re working with to sell your home knows the neighborhood. It’s a bit less important when buying a home, but it is 1000% critically important when selling a home.

Other Types of Real Estate Agents

Luxury Agent

They focus on big dollar transactions. They’re used to helping people buy or sell mansions, know how to price them, stage them, advertise them, have fancy open houses, mingle and network with the right folks etc…

Many of us obviously want these big transactions, but few of us actually are experienced in them.

The exception is NYC. It’s ridiculous here. For example, many decently sized 2BR condos in Manhattan start at $1MM. Townhouses or multifamily properties in “good” neighborhoods are 2MM+. By default, everyone’s a luxury agent.

Short Sales, Foreclosures, REOs

Dealing with heightened emotions, the bank, creditors, investors etc…it can be a lot. And the additional paperwork, legal headaches and lengthy process can be overwhelming for someone who doesn’t focus on these transactions.

This is a niche that not many agents focus on. Those who do are probably making a lot of money!

home location

Relocation Specialist

Lots of people may change locations because their employer is moving them to another office. Maybe they have a list of agents they generally contract with.

These agents tend to understand the logistics and needs of potential buyers a bit better. That said, if you’re switching locations due to other reasons, just focus on working with an agent who knows your target location and you’ll be fine.

Oh, and please don’t buy a home in a location you don’t know. We see far too many people making this mistake time and time again.

Slow down, spend some actual time living there to figure out, down to the zip code level, where you actually want to live. Don’t rely on us agents to help you make that decision.

Final Thoughts

This article is already too long but again, remember it’s the experience and the location that counts.

Screening an Agent

We, as agents, may get fancy licenses and certifications (ABR, CRS, MRP, LHC…) in some of the aforementioned areas of focus, but they’re meaningless without experience.

Spend some time talking to the agent(s) to hone in on their specific real world experience to make sure they’re the real deal.

Screening a Client

This goes both ways. If you can’t afford to play the game, please don’t waste an agent’s time. There’s no shame in waiting until you’re ready.

Get pre approved for a home loan before you do anything. This is step one. If you’re a cash buyer, be prepared to show proof of funds. Want to be taken seriously? Prove it.

Why an Agent?

Finally, the value of an agent is in their relationships, local market knowledge and negotiating skills. You may transact (buy or sell a home) once in 3-5 years. Good agents have seen hundreds of transactions.

A 2%, 5% or even 10% swing up or down on a 500K transaction is a lot of money. Don’t go it alone unless you know what you’re doing or an experienced agent on the other side of the transaction will eat your lunch.

As always, feel free to contact us should you need a recommendation for an agent the next time you’re ready to buy or sell a home.