Not all real estate agents are equal. HomeLight’s analysis of 27 million transactions reveals that the top 5% of real estate agents sell homes for 10% more than the average agent. That means that working with a subpar agent could lose you up to $25,000 on a $250,000 home deal — a considerable loss.

With over 2 million active real estate agents in the U.S., there’s no shortage of agents to choose from. But how do you know if a real estate agent is a top producer or an average Joe?

Here are eight signs of a good real estate agent who can carry you through your home sale with ease and fill your pockets with the most money possible.

a person researching the signs of a good real estate agent online.
Source: (Jacky Chiu / Unsplash)

1. The agent’s property listings shine with great copy and photos

According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), 52% of buyers find the home they purchase on the internet. It’s essential that your agent can craft a property listing that charms buyers into arranging a showing.

So, you head to an agent’s website and see some absolutely gorgeous home listings — clean, modern interiors, perfectly staged rooms, and bright, tantalizing professional photographs abound. You conclude that you’ve stumbled across an absolute real estate digital marketing maven.

But wait. You scroll down a bit more and see some photos in other listings that are not so hot, with some cluttered rooms, dated floors, and decor that, frankly, makes no sense. Should you dump this agent before the first date?

“Not necessarily,” says Enas Latif, a top-rated real estate agent who sells homes 62% faster than the average Harris Hill, New York agent. “Photos are a team effort. If you have an uncooperative seller, or tenants living in the home, it can become tough.”

Rather than going by photos alone, Latif advises sellers to ask the agent the following questions after viewing their listings:

  • What will you do to my home to prepare it for sale?
  • How will you capture photos of my home? Will they be professionally taken?
  • Do you do a pre-photo walkthrough with me to help me best stage my home for pictures?

“Professional pictures are non-negotiable, regardless of the size of the home or its price range,” Latif says.

2. The agent suggests strategic home improvements

When it comes to preparing your home for the market, renovations possibilities are endless. A top real estate agent knows which projects will bring a positive return on investment and bring more buyers to the door.

For example, replacing an asphalt shingle roof costs an average of $24,700 and has a return on investment of 65.9%, adding $16,287 in resale value. A minor kitchen remodel that costs around the same price has a higher average return on investment of 77.6%, adding $18,206 in resale value.

A good real estate agent is intimately familiar with ROI values and knows exactly what features buyers in your market are willing to pay more for.

A person responding to a text, which is a sign of a good real estate agent.
Source: (Clay Banks / Unsplash)

3. They respond to your messages within 24 hours

A good real estate agent is easy to reach and responds to your phone calls, texts, and emails within 24 hours. If you reach out to a real estate agent and don’t hear back for an extended period, look elsewhere.

“Selling a home can be like a stressful emotional roller coaster,” Latif shares. “Your real estate agent needs to be that person you can rely on and trust to keep you updated and at ease through the whole process.”

It’s essential that your real estate agent has excellent communication and negotiation skills and provides you with regular updates.

But exactly how much communication is enough? If you send an agent a message and don’t hear back from them for a while, is that a red flag?

“That depends on your definition of ‘a while,’” Latif says. “I personally don’t answer my phone if I’m on a call with another client. If I’m at a listing appointment, for example, that could take up to three hours. That said, anything more than 24 hours is a red flag.”

If you’re reaching out to a real estate agent through their site as a prospective client, however, Latif says this is a great time to test whether the agent has good systems in place.

“An agent needs to have a system where there’s a response to inquiries coming in within five or ten minutes,” Latif advises. “Even if the response is an automated message that says, ‘Hey, I’m tied up in an appointment and will call you back as soon as I can.’”

Why is communication so important? You want an agent who not only responds promptly to you but also to homebuyers inquiring about your property. Playing phone tag is not fun for busy buyers. The last thing you want is to miss out on a sale because your agent wasn’t available.

4. You like their energy (and they like yours!)

77% of sellers go with the first real estate agent they contact. While this sometimes works out, it’s much more strategic to conduct a brief interview with your top three candidates to get a sense of their personality and professionalism.

While you don’t have to be entirely enamored with your agent, there should be an immediate likability factor, and you should generally enjoy being around them. You’ll be working with your real estate agent to sell your home for a long time — for an average of 70 days from listing to closing, on top of an additional month or two prior to listing while you prepare your home for the market.

“It’s almost like a marriage!” Latif comments only half-jokingly.

“You’re stuck with each other every day for months. If you can’t communicate, how are you going to make it work?”

Compatibility with your agent is paramount for an enjoyable and profitable selling experience. Your agent should have great communication skills, always make you feel heard, and instill a sense of trust in you.

Even more critical, a listing agent needs to communicate with influence, charisma, and confidence to market your home, handle prospects, and close the deal successfully.

5. They know the area like the back of their hand

One of the first things to ask an agent is how well they know your neighborhood. An agent with intimate local knowledge gives you an edge over your competitors when marketing your home; they can authentically sell buyers on the perks of your location, like proximity to local cafes, shops, restaurants, wildlife, and urban centers.

When interviewing your agent, ask them how many homes they’ve closed in your area. You can also use HomeLight’s heat map tool to see how many nearby transactions they’ve closed for yourself.

If you ask your agent about the real estate market in your neighborhood, be sure they don’t immediately list off stats on sales in your county or state. Real estate is hyper-local. How many homes closed last month in your state is less relevant to your sale than an agent’s ability to provide insight on locals’ favorite spots and school district details without hesitation.

Two people talking about the signs of a good real estate agent.
Source: (LinkedIn Sales Solutions / Unsplash)

6. The agent has beaming reviews and stats across platforms

For a positive selling experience, work with a top agent with a stellar track record of closing deals. After all, your agent is responsible for managing the sale of your largest financial asset. Luckily, it’s easier than ever to find an agent’s sales history and client reviews online.

The easiest way to find reviews of your real estate agent is to simply google them. For more specialized information, look at HomeLight agent profiles, which include client reviews, as well as statistics on local sales, average time on market, and average sale price.

7. They’re gritty and resourceful

Meeting all of your selling objectives is no small task — you need the support of an agent who can tirelessly market your home and stick with you through closing.

Even in competitive markets, the right agent won’t let you feel defeated if you lose out on a deal. They’re highly motivated and always ready with a new strategy to ensure you bounce back and close on the right deal.

“My team is known for not letting deals fall through,” Latif says. “And we carry those deals to close.”

Latif says the secret to surviving the unexpected and adjusting to unforeseen obstacles is agility and experience.

“A full-time real estate agent with lots of active experience in the market will be in tune with the daily workings of the market,” she shares. With a finger on the pulse of the local market, your agent can pivot your selling strategy when the unexpected happens.

“Say, for example, a house that we expected to get multiple offers didn’t. You would need to analyze the market and your listing and determine what was going on,” Latif adds.

When interviewing your prospective agent, ask them how they’ve overcome obstacles — like termites or unexpected asbestos — to recover the sale. If their response makes them sound unstoppable, then you’ve found a keeper.

8. Their network is impeccable

A network full of local connections is an essential quality in real estate agents and is one of the primary reasons you should always work with an agent to sell your home.

There are many moving parts to selling your home, and you’ll likely find yourself calling on contractors for projects like landscaping, painting, plumbing, and home staging. Rather than digging through reviews for every service you’re looking for, your agent can put you in touch with their network of highly qualified contractors and home prep experts.

And if your agent has relationships with these professionals, they may be able to convince them to schedule you in for last minute repairs before open houses or showings.

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