Welcome to the series of posts helping Introverts with buying a home, selling a home or investing in real estate. I tend to be an introvert more than an extrovert so I thought it would be appropriate to give some advice to others like me on how they can succeed in real estate without having to go outside their comfort zones. My first post was on Three Online Tools Introverts Can Use to Help Get a Mortgage.
After you have gotten your mortgage squared away, the next step is to locate a real estate agent. There are a lot of us out there! How do you possibly filter through them all to find one? Hopefully, the tools I highlight in this post will give you a good start to locate the one that is the right fit for you. Remember, you don’t have to select the first one you meet (even though most people do exactly this!). It is always best to interview two or three to find one that would work with you the best. As an introvert, you want an agent that is organized, respects your privacy (and time) and responds to your inquiries in a timely manner. You have to decide if you want to work with a big brokerage like Keller Williams, ReMax, etc, or do you work with a agent with a small boutique brokerage, which are privately owned companies with a fewer number of agents. Some agents will be very busy and might work with you via their team, which could include a buyer’s agent, transaction coordinator, administrative assistant, etc, while other agents will just work with you directly during the whole process.
When it comes to the interview itself, I wrote a post about what you need to do. It is about interviewing a listing agent, but it is relevant for a buyer’s agent as well. Check it out here. When you are done looking over this list, be sure to see what I have to offer as well. You can find out more about me here. Let’s chat!
1. Big Portals – If you go to Google and do a search for “real estate”, you will find your top search results to be these huge, multibillion dollar portal sites that make their money by giving you a fancy interfaces to homes for sale. These “listings” of homes for sale come in part from the Multiple Listing Services that real estate agents have syndicated to the big portal sites. Did you know these sites are also great ways for you to find a real estate agent? Most people don’t even connect the homes for sale to a real estate agent until they want more information about the property. A buyer will then put in a request for more information and “boom” you get a call from one. However, be cautious here! Don’t pick this agent just because you received a call from them. These portal sites make most of their money from allowing real estate agents to advertise on them and base how many times an agent appears on their pages on how much they spend on their advertisement. Do you really want to go with an agent who happens to spend more dollars on the portal? Despite this warning, these sites do provide a nice directory of agents from which to research. My favorite happens to be the biggest one on the block: Zillow. You can use their agent finder to search for an agent for your specific zip code. The agent will have written reviews for you to read as well as how many homes they have sold in the last year. You can also search for specialties, languages spoken and housing type. Overall, I think it is a great way to find an agent.
Bonus tool: If you are looking for an alternative big portal site to try, you should check out realtor.com. This site is actually associated with the National Association of Realtors and tends to be a little more objective in recommending agents to you. They give some nice tidbits of advice on what to look for in a realtor and have some additional statistics, like activity price range.
2. Real Estate Agent Listings Sites – If you want something a little more specific in finding a real estate agent, you will need to look at sites with a sole purpose to help you find a real estate agent. They don’t list property for sale. They simply have lists of real estate agents for you to review and potentially contact. There are several such sights on the web, but I personally think Homelight holds the most promise for you to find a good agent. This site uses data to help you filter out most of the agents based on what you need in a house and where you are looking to buy the home. It does this through a neat wizard that makes it easy to complete and move on to meeting your possible agent. The site will ask for you to complete a form with your phone number and email so agents can call you or email you. Be best to wait until you are ready for this step before completing the wizard. However, it is a unique way for you to locate a possible agent with the help of big data. It is only select cities as well so be sure to look over the list before you jump too far into the site.
Bonus Tool: You can get even more ideas for agents by using Thumbtack. This site has a more breadth of coverage for you so if you don’t find your city with Homelight, you can tackle the chore with Thumbtack instead. This page is unique in the fact that you answer a few questions, get some bids from some agents, and then pick the one you like the best. Once again, don’t take this step unless you are ready to engage with a real estate agent.
3. Social Media – The last place I am going to recommend to find a real estate agent is hitting up social media, specifically Facebook. Every agent I know has a Facebook presence. Some agents have made it their main way of locating and finding clients. You can do some major research on agents by looking over their business pages. In fact, I think you get to see a side of the agent here that you might not get to see through some of the other sites I have written about in this post. Facebook might be a good way to reinforce your decision on the agent you find through the research you did with other sites. You want to see if this agent will fit you in terms of personality and way of doing things. There is no reason to work with an agent that you know you won’t like personally. Check out what they like and don’t like on Facebook, and see what posts they are sharing on their business page. It can be quite eye-opening! You might also ask family and friends on Facebook by posting something to your wall. Be advised, however, that everyone know a different agent and many will just send your request directly to their agent. You will probably get contacted by several agents if you ask for recommendations so don’t do it unless you are ready to engage with agents.
Bonus Tool: Linkedin is another great place to do some research on real estate agents. Like with Facebook, almost every agent I know has a Linkedin profile and you can find out more about their professional careers before engaging with them. It never hurts to know what they did before they went into real estate.