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How to Find the Best Real Estate Agent for You

Maurie Backman
By: Maurie Backman

Our Mortgages Expert

Many or all of the products here are from our partners that compensate us. It’s how we make money. But our editorial integrity ensures our experts’ opinions aren’t influenced by compensation. Terms may apply to offers listed on this page.

If you're looking to buy or sell a home, you have options. First, you can go about it solo. But if that sounds like too much work, a real estate agent could help make your life easier. Here, whether you're a home seller, buyer or both, we'll show you how to find the right real estate agent for your needs.

What is a real estate agent?

A real estate agent is a licensed professional who represents buyers or sellers in real estate transactions. Real estate agents can be broken down into two categories:

  • A seller's agent or listing agent helps market and sell a home
  • A buyer's agent helps buyers find a home to purchase

It's possible for the same person to be an agent for both the home seller and buyer. Also, if you're selling a home and need to buy a new one, you can use the same agent for both transactions.

Real estate agent vs. Realtor

A real estate agent is someone who has a license to help buyers purchase a home or help sell a home. A Realtor is a specific type of real estate agent who is a member of the National Association of Realtors®. You may hear the terms "real estate agent" and "Realtor" used interchangeably, but they shouldn't be.

How to find a great real estate agent

Finding the right real estate agent could make the home selling or buying process go much more smoothly. Plus, the right agent can negotiate on your behalf so that you either pay less for a home you're buying or command a higher sale price for a home you're selling.

Here's how to find the right agent:

  1. Ask friends and neighbors for recommendations
  2. Search online for local agents
  3. Assess each agent's real estate experience
  4. Find an agent who's familiar with your local market
  5. Ask about fees

Ask friends and neighbors for recommendations

The best place to start when it comes to finding a real estate agent is to get recommendations from satisfied clients. Reach out to your network and ask people about their experiences, as that's really one of the best ways to get a sense of whether a given professional is a good agent or not. Specifically, you'll want to verify an agent's credentials, find out what skills they have, and how quickly they will get back to you when you have questions.

Search online for local agents

If you can't get any recommendations for an agent, your next best option is to look online. A simple Google search can pull up a real estate professional in your area, as can viewing listing agents' names on one of the best real estate and home-buying apps. And from there, it's a matter of interviewing them to see who is the best fit for you. Also, it's totally acceptable to ask real estate agents to connect you with past clients who can vouch for them.

Assess each agent's real estate experience

While there's nothing wrong with taking a chance on a new agent, the reality is that working with an experienced agent has its benefits. Be sure to vet the experience of each prospective agent you talk to. Find out how many homes that agent has helped buy or close on. Also, ask how many homes that agent typically sells or helps buy per year.

Find an agent who's familiar with your local market

An agent with vast experience may not be that useful if that person isn't familiar with your local market. Aim to find a local agent who knows your neighborhood and has experience selling or helping find homes there. That knowledge will help your agent come up with a good list price for a home you're selling or help you determine if a home you're looking to buy is being offered at a competitive price or not.

Ask about fees

A buyer's agent generally will not charge you a fee, but if you're selling a home, you should expect to pay your agent a commission. The going rate is generally 4% to 6% of the price your home sells for, though your agent may be willing to negotiate. Be sure to find out about fees before committing to one real estate agent over another. If two agents have similar track records and come highly recommended but one charges a 5% commission and the other charges 6%, you might as well opt for the agent who will charge less.

Need a mortgage and an agent? Check out The Ascent's Reali Loans Mortgage Review. They offer both services.

Finding the best real estate agent for you

Choosing the right real estate agent could be the difference between a stressful home search and an easy one. Similarly, the right real estate agent could score you a higher sale price on your home and help you find a buyer quickly so your home doesn't sit on the market for weeks on end.

Of course, if you're looking to buy a home, finding the right real estate agent is only part of the process. You'll also need to find the right mortgage lender.

To this end, a good bet is to check out our list of top mortgage lenders. And if you're new to the process, definitely look at these mortgage lenders for first-time home buyers.

Choosing a mortgage lender isn't an overnight process, so it pays to search for one while you're looking at real estate agents or even beforehand. And be sure to go mortgage shopping rather than go with the first mortgage lender that comes back to you with an offer. That way, you can compare rates and closing costs to see what the best deal looks like.

You may even want to do your rate shopping while you're getting mortgage pre-approval, which is a smart thing to do as a buyer. Getting pre-approved will give you a home-buying budget to work with and make it easier for your real estate agent to guide you in the right direction based on the loan amount you know you're able to borrow.

Ready for mortgage pre-approval?

Getting pre-approved for a mortgage loan is an important step in the home buying process. Our experts recommend mortgage pre-approval before you begin looking at houses or deciding on a real estate agent.


  • There are a number of things to look for in a real estate agent: great customer service, a good amount of experience, strong knowledge of your local real estate market, and reasonable fees.

  • You don't have to find a lender before finding a real estate agent, but if you're buying a home, getting a lender first is a smart idea.The benefit of finding a mortgage lender before finding a real estate agent is that you can get pre-approved for a mortgage before you start your home search. Pre-approval doesn't guarantee you a mortgage, but it will give you an idea of how much money you'll be eligible to borrow. And that could, in turn, help guide your home search.

  • A real estate agent is the general term for a licensed professional who can help you buy or sell a home. A Realtor, on the other hand, is a type of real estate agent who is a member of the National Association of Realtors®.

Our Mortgages Expert