How to Find a Real Estate Agent That’s Right for You

When I first decided to gather my belongings and abandon San Francisco for Chicago, I knew next to nothing of the city I was about to call home. Sure, I had spent time in Chicago and I could tell anyone who would listen about my favorite bars and restaurants, but when it can to picking a neighborhood to live in and a realtor to help us stop being renters and start being homeowners, I was totally clueless.

Being the good millennial I am, I went to where I always go when I don’t know what I want—Yelp. I searched real estate agent into the bar and picked the one with the highest number of stars. Thankfully, this grab-bag process worked out and I had found an agent that worked well with my needs and matched my style.

However, this could have been a headache waiting to happen. Buying a house is one of if not the biggest financial decision you’ll make in your lifetime and who you partner with to complete that process should be given more thought than you give to when you order take out. There are so many ways to find a real estate agent, and yes, websites like Yelp are one of them. Keep reading to find out how you can find an agent that’s right for you.

Ask a Friend

It’s not a secret that referrals make up a large chunk of a realtor’s business, so in general, agents love it when friends recommend them. Even if you’re moving to a new area, ask acquaintances and co-workers if they have a realtor they recommend. Chances are they will be more than happy to pass on their realtor’s information, along with a slew of other helpful information about the agent and their time spent looking at houses. If they don’t seem enthused to offer you a referral, then that is equally helpful and you’ll have a name to cross off your list.

Check Real Estate Search Engines—but not in the way you think

Besides using websites like Trulia, Zillow, and Redfin to search for houses, you can also use it to find an agent. Agents and their reviews are listed on these websites, where you can read their bios and look at homes they’ve recently sold. But, that’s not the only way you can find your dream realtor.

If you have an idea of an area or home style that you’re currently looking for, see who the agent is for some of these properties that match your description. Even if you’re not ready to make a move, agents often have experience in a particular neighborhood or housing style. If you’re searching for that craftsman bungalow with a fireplace or you really have your heart set on a particular neighborhood, find an agent who has experience with those parameters.

Take it to Instagram

Not just the app for looking at pictures of cute dogs and beautiful plates of food, you can also use this as your own private real estate search engine. Using targeted hashtags, like #chicagoagent or #chicagorealtor, you can find a bunch of people who use Instagram as a way to reach their clients. You’ll get a feel for the type of business they run, their lives, how responsive they are to clients, and what kind of homes they typically deal with.

Get Your Ducks in a Row

After you’ve gathered a list of potential agents to reach out to, get all your paperwork together. If you haven’t already spoken to a lender to get preapproved, do so before talking to agents as some brokers require it to work with you. In truth, this is a best practice for everyone involved so that you and your broker know what kind of home you’re able to buy.

Also, create a list of what you’re looking for or are willing to consider. We at Lothamer & Co send each potential client a survey that will let us learn more about what kind of home they want and their personalized needs. No matter which agent you talk to, be aware of the things that are requirements and the things that you’re willing to negotiate with. We take these things into account because we’re not in the business of pigeonholing clients into homes they don’t want because it suits our needs; no, an agent should listen to the client and help them find the perfect home.