Step 1: Find the Right Realtor

Here's how to find a Realtor who's right for you.

Gather referrals 

There's a lot of agents out there. So how do you choose? Go ahead and ask your friends for referrals, but don't fall into the trap of picking an agent purely because of rave reviews.  The old mantra of location, location, location applies to real estate agents as much as homes.

"You need a Realtor who is experienced in the market you're wanting to sell in. One who is familiar with neighborhood values and area trends that might affect your home sale, " offers Affiliate Broker, Steve Miller of the Nashville Home Guys.

The reason is simple: if they've spent time in the area, they'll know how to market your house there.

So a better question to ask your friends than "Know any real estate agents?" is, "Know a real estate agent who's sold any properties in my area in the past few years?"

Test their communication skills

Once you have some potentials, email them or call their office, then sit back and wait. This is your first test of a key component: how responsive will your agent be? Ideally, she should get back to you that same day.

Steve adds, "This is one of the most important financial and emotional decisions a person can make and it is the Realtor's job to make sure they are available. Communication is the key to a successful transaction."  Imagine if you've got competing offers on the table, or if some problem comes up with the home inspection.  You don't want to wonder where your agent is and whether you'll hear back from her.

Probe their experience

Your initial conversation with a prospective listing agent should be like any job interview: Don’t be afraid to ask the tough questions right off the bat. A good agent should know his stats, and any dancing around these numbers could mean he’s hiding something. You should ask the following:
  • How long have you been in business? Aim for Realtors with at least two years of experience, enough time to learn the ropes and finesse their marketing and selling plans. Time (on the job) is money (in your pocket).
  • How many houses did you sell last year? Look for agents with double-digit sales. 
  • What percentage of your listings do you sell? Ideally you want an agent who has sold an average of 60% to 80%.
  • What is the average list price to actual sell price ratio for your listings? This can fluctuate by market, but you should still look for high numbers. “This is an important point to know so you can see if the agent is just trying to get your listing with an unrealistic listing price or if his judgments on price have been vetted in reality.  If not, you will be wasting your time until they come back and ask you to drop the price.  Probably a Realtor with a 95% ratio of sale price to list price is a good one to consider," Steve says.

Assess their marketing skills

Everyone knows that to sell a house quickly (and get the big bucks) you need to reach as many eyeballs as you can. And the way to suss out an agent’s ability to do that is to ask these questions:

  • How will you market my home? A Realtor should use at least a good brokerage website to showcase your listing, national listing portals such as®, and an email subscription list.
  • How will you use social media? They should use at least Facebook and Twitter to market listings; they get bonus points if they post photos on Instagram.
  • What offline materials do you use? While most marketing is done online now, your Realtor should still make use of tried-and-true methods such as fliers, yard signs, and brochures, especially at an open house.
  • How much do you spend on advertising? Advertising costs vary widely by area, but an agent should be able to give you an idea of how much and where they spend their advertising dollars.

Don’t shoot for cheap

Finally, don’t assume the most inexpensive agent is the one for you. While agents work at different price points and some may take a lower commission, the most solid agents won't jump at the chance to lower their commission rate just to get a listing, because of the experience and expertise they bring to the table. "If lowering commissions is one of the first things you hear from an agent you might want to be careful." Steve goes on, "You need an agent who is going to be your advocate protecting your interests, if they are not protecting their own, how can they protect yours?"

NEXT: Step 2: List It At The Right Price


Steve Miller
Steve Miller
Affiliate Broker
964 Main St Nashville TN 37206