Generally a real estate agent can rank pretty low in public opinion. Too often, they are seen as overpaid, unproductive, ineffective and so on. But that's not the whole story. The good ones are really good. They are worth their weight in real estate paperwork. In fact, good real estate agents are heroes. Trouble is, there's just not that many of them out there. Most are mediocre at best, hoping to make quick and easy money selling a very expensive commodity.
Agents usually come to the business as a second career. In other words: they start out to do something else . . . and then discover that their chosen profession is somehow inadequate. Maybe they left college to become teachers, but, after several years, discovered that the bureaucratic grind and low wages made the job undesirable. Maybe they climbed a corporate ladder to middle management and then suddenly got laid off. These are the people who often look around for a plan B, and see real estate sales as an alternative. Licensing is easy, start-up costs are minimal and there is potential to make very good money.
Unfortunately, many remember the commission they paid on the last house they sold and conclude that it must be easy money. It is not. That's why the average agent makes so little. Only the extraordinarily sharp and energetic do well in real estate sales.
So how do you tell if your real estate agent is good or mediocre? Start with production. The average agent in America today does about 7 deals a year. That's very sad. Not just for the agent, who on average will make about $34,000 on that kind of production, but also for the consumer who gets stuck with an agent who does so little he or she can't possibly be as sharp or up to date on the business - and particularly on how to solve transaction problems - as someone doing, say, twice as many deals. So ask your potential agent: 'How many deals did you do last year?' You should hear something in double digits and ideally, the first one should probably be a 2 or better.
But don't fool yourself into thinking the one with the largest number of deals done in the previous year must be the best agent. Not always true. In fact, not usually true. You're looking for the one who not only has decent production, but has clients raving about their buying or selling experience. Ask to see testimonial letters - good agents have plenty of them - or do what you'd do if your were hiring an unfamiliar babysitter: ask for references . . . and then call them.
The easiest way I know to find a great real estate agent is to call GreatNest. Our team of pros outperforms the local MLS every month. We do so much more than put a sign in the yard and input the listing into MLS; we actually market our inventory. We understand that job one is lead generation and that's why we work so hard at making sure our marketing works. And we get the job done while saving consumers thousands of dollars!