Whether you’re buying or selling a home, finding the right real estate agent to partner with can be a daunting task. A lot’s at stake, and there’s certainly no shortage of characters in this business.
Trust me, I speak from experience: As a real estate agent in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C., for the past four years, I’ve encountered a range of personalities. Each has particular strengths and weaknesses—not only in dealing with clients, but depending on the market they’re in.
Finding the best real estate agent largely boils down to pinpointing that special someone who not only makes you feel comfortable, but is primed to excel in your housing climate. To help steer you toward a professional with the right stuff, here’s a rundown of some of the most common characters you’ll meet, as well as their pros and cons.
1. The veteran
Who it is: An agent who has many years or even decades of experience in the business.
Pros: Veteran agents can provide sage advice based on the breadth of knowledge they’ve built up over the years. Having dealt with just about every issue that can affect a sale, they can help you navigate any complicated problems that may arise.
Cons: Experienced real estate agents are usually in high demand, working with several clients at once. Because their time is limited, they may not be available for last-minute showing requests, or other pressing issues. For sellers, they’re also less likely to budge on their commission, which hovers around 5% to 6% of the final sales price of a house.
Best for: These drill sergeants are a good fit for buyers and sellers who want a lot of direction. If this is your first time buying or selling a home, this might be the best agent for you.
2. The rookie
Who it is: An agent who acquired his real estate license recently, for example, within the past one or two years.
Pros: New to the field, rookies bring fresh energy and enthusiasm to their job. Because beginners usually have fewer clients than more seasoned agents, they may be able to spend more time with you than an experienced agent who’s juggling multiple clients. Also, if you’re selling your house, newbies may be willing to take a smaller commission, which can save you big bucks.
Cons: Lack of experience can cause rookies to slip up—and some mistakes can cost you a lot of money. If the person flubs the sales contract, for example, you may not have much negotiating power if big issues are discovered during the home inspection.
Best for: Home buyers and sellers who want an agent’s undivided attention or who are hoping to save a bit on the commission. It also helps if this isn’t your first time buying or selling a home, since you’ve been around this block and know the basics.
3. The shark
Who it is: Cutthroat by nature, these agents are blunt and fearless when it comes to negotiating on your behalf.
Pros: Because sharks are unafraid to show their teeth, you can rest assured that they’ll fight to get you the best deal.
Cons: Since sharks aren’t sensitive by nature—and have no hesitation serving up brutally honest advice (“All your amateur artwork needs to come down if you have any hope of selling this home, guys”)—they can be difficult for some clients, and even other real estate agents, to work with.
Best for: People with thick skins in competitive real estate markets where tough negotiation skills are necessary to get the edge.
4. The charmer
Who it is: Born salespeople, charmers get along with everyone!
Pros: These skilled schmoozers can deftly navigate all kinds of potential conflicts between buyers and sellers.
Cons: Smooth talkers aren’t always great listeners, so you may need to really spell out what you want.
Best for: Home buyers and sellers with some handicap such as a poor credit score or a home that needs repairs, where establishing trust and rapport with all involved can help push a deal through.
5. The techie
Who it is: Typically a millennial, the techie agent utilizes mobile apps, social media, and the latest technology to help home buyers and sellers navigate today’s changing marketplace.
Pros: The techie is a whiz at using Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other social media platforms to find and sell homes. This prowess is especially useful for home sellers, since 44% of home buyers begin their house search by looking at properties online, according to the National Association of Realtors®’ “Real Estate in a Digital Age 2017 Report.”
Cons: Some techies spend more time sitting at their computers than they do marketing and showing properties. They also have a tendency to geek out and use language that you might not understand.
Best for: Home sellers in sluggish markets where it’s hard to drum up interest—as well as home buyers in fast-paced markets who want to get ahead of the curve.
How to choose the right real estate agent for you
You’ll want to meet with at least three real estate agents face to face to gauge their personalities before deciding whiom you’re going to hire. You can search for agents in your area on realtor.com, and you can also read real estate agent reviews from previous clients on the site.