When you are in the market to buy a house—or need to sell your current home—that is the time to use an experienced real estate agent. An inexperienced agent can cost you time and money, and unfortunately maybe even put you at risk of losing out on your dream home.
- Agents who have renewed their licenses multiple times are more likely to have a history of consistently closing deals.
- Experienced real estate agents can provide the kinds of nuanced information and advice unlikely to be found through online real estate searches.
- Benefits of using an experienced real estate agent include rapport with other agents, knowledge of market trends, and solid referrals.
- When choosing a real estate agent, look for good communication skills, patience, and marketing expertise.
Instead of asking how much experience an agent has, ask how many times the agent has renewed their real estate license. In Oklahoma, for example, real estate licenses are issued for three years, New Hampshire's term is two years, and California has four-year terms.
Search your own state's real estate commission—or equivalent office—website to find how long licenses last. Knowing how many times an agent has renewed a license allows you to calculate how many years they have been working, and it also is a starting point for gauging an agent's track record. Agents who have renewed their licenses multiple times are more likely to have a history of consistently closing deals.
Benefits of an Agent's Experience
Searching home listings and scheduling viewings is something anyone can do on the internet. Even sales and property assessment histories can be researched online through many municipal websites using geographic information system maps and public records. However, experienced real estate agents work in local markets on a day-to-day basis and can provide the kinds of nuanced information and advice unlikely to be found through online real estate searches.
Some of the ways agents can offer valuable advice include:
- Rapport with other agents: Experienced agents know other agents in the community, and this can expedite home sales. For example, if you're looking to buy, your agent can let other agents they know to give them a heads-up as soon as a home that's a good fit is about to hit the market.
- Pulse on the market: Experienced agents can efficiently identify and even predict trends. They can tell you which neighborhoods are trending up or down and why. If you don't need to buy or sell immediately, they can advise you when you should act and when you should wait.
- Negotiation experience: Negotiating the best price is an art form best honed by doing it frequently. Knowing who you're dealing with also helps, and an experienced agent often has insight into who is motivated to buy or sell quickly and who has the patience to wait for a more favorable deal.
- Knowledgable referrals: Buying or selling a home typically requires working vendors such as mortgage lenders, title companies, home inspectors, appraisers, general contractors, and pest inspectors. Experienced agents know who to trust and who to avoid.
- Community connections: Experienced agents have contacts at City Hall and in local industry. If one of the area's top employers is expanding or laying people off, they know about it and how it will impact the market. If someone's pushing a zoning amendment that will impact specific neighborhoods, they often can let you know before it's even in the news.
It's tempting to use a relative or a close friend as your real estate agent. They're sometimes called "DNA" agents because they're related to you. It may seem like a good idea because of the familiarity, but one of the most valuable things an agent offers is objective advice and insights.
Interview multiple agents before deciding on the best fit, and don't be afraid to negotiate the commission you'll pay.
As relatives, you might be too careful to not offend each other or counter the other's opinions or ideas, even if it's in your best interest to do so. You might not feel as comfortable demanding what you deserve as you would with an agent who was not family.
It also might be tempting to want to hire a relative if that person is a new agent and trying to get established. Helping someone get their foot in the door in the industry is nice, but your main concern should be finding the best real estate agent for your needs.
Abundance of Inexperienced Agents
Jobs for real estate agents are expected to expand at a rate of 7% for the decade ending in 2028, slightly better than the 5% rate of growth projected for all jobs. However, it's not projected to be steady growth. The real estate market fluctuates frequently due to external economic factors.
When the market is down, experienced agents with a strong foundation can weather the storm, but expect a lot of turnover among agents with limited experience. One of the biggest reasons real estate agents leave the business is because they aren't making enough money. The median salary for a real estate sales agent in the United States is about $48,000 a year, and the lowest-paid 10% earn less than $25,000 annually. Agents on the low end of that scale are most likely to be casualties of a down market, which can lead to more turnover in the profession.
In addition to asking about experience, there are some other traits you can look for to help identify the most experienced agents:
- Communication: You typically want an agent who projects an outgoing personality. Being good at the job generally involves communicating with a lot of people effectively. If you think your agent communicates well and is likable, it's reasonable to expect the other buyers or sellers you're working with to feel the same way—and that's what you want.
- Organization and time management: Agents have a lot on their plate, and you won't be the only client experienced agents are serving. Make sure the person you're dealing with keeps appointments and responds to messages promptly. If they're not doing so for you, they're probably not doing so for other buyers, sellers, or agents you need to work with.
- Patience: Conflict resolution is an unavoidable aspect of real estate transactions. Look for agents who listen calmly and think logically.
- Marketing expertise and self-promotion: Would you buy something from this person? Ultimately, that's the bottom line. If you can't answer yes to that question, you don't want that person as your agent.