Signs You Have A Good Real Estate Agent

Buying or selling real estate is a complicated, often life-changing process. So it pays to have a professional guiding the process, especially if you're a new homeowner, which is about 1/3 of recent home buyers, according to the National Association of Realtors. But, just as you don't want to be too hasty in making a decision about a home, you don't want to just work with any real estate agent — and the gap between great agents and their less-fantastic colleagues is a wide one.

A great agent will have a multitude of qualities that makes the process of buying or selling a home much smoother for their clients. Whether it's being a fantastic communicator, listening to their clients, knowing their business inside and out, or being a tenacious advocate, the best of the best put their clients' goals and well-being first.

Generally, it's easy to tell if you should break up with your real estate agent: They don't return your calls, they don't answer your questions, and you feel like you have to pry information from them. You're left wondering if you should have just gone ahead and handled the process yourself. You definitely don't feel confident, so what's the point of dealing with this person? Save yourself some trouble and find a great agent instead. You'll be so much better off, and more likely to get exactly what you want.

Your real estate agent is responsive and available

The number one complaint both buyers and sellers have regarding their real estate agents is that they aren't responsive. Real estate transactions are rife with uncertainty, especially if you're new to buying and selling, and an agent who doesn't guide you through it or return your calls (or both) only makes it that much more stressful.

The best agents follow guidelines. According to San Jose Real Estate, they never let a client go unanswered for more than a day, and in some cases, they try to stick to a half-day delay, tops. And when they answer, they make sure the client understands, taking the time to fully explain the issue or address client concerns. Nobody likes feeling brushed off, so if you have an agent who not only returns your messages but also makes you feel like you're being heard and understood, consider yourself lucky.

Communication between you and your agent is key. It helps to ask questions up front, such as which modes of communication they prefer (calls, emails, texts) and whether they take days off. This will help you temper your expectations and understand your agent's boundaries. It's a good thing to get this information up front, because you may find that your schedule or expectations and theirs just don't mesh; it's also better to switch agents early on, rather than getting deeper into the process and finding that your needs and expectations don't match up with your agent's style.

Your real estate agent is honest, for better or worse

Honesty in a real estate agent is essential. If your agent is all gleeful promises and endless affirmations, there's a good chance that they're not being entirely truthful with you; according to Forbes, that's one of the top three signs of a bad real estate agent. Whether it involves taking a hard look at your budget and what you can actually afford, or how to price your house competitively, a good real estate agent might not always tell you what you want to hear — and that's for the best.

Not every property is perfect for every buyer, and it's important to have an agent who'll tell you both the pros and the cons of a particular property, rather than giving you a big sell and putting their commission above your needs. And, on the other end of the scale, if your home needs work or upgrades to compete with other listings in the area, you need an agent who'll tell you that, rather than a nod, smile, and assurance you that everything is just perfect and there's absolutely nothing to worry about (even if that's what you'd like to hear.)

Your real estate agent is experienced

While everyone has to start somewhere, it pays to have an experienced real estate agent on your side, one who has negotiated a few sales and has real-world experience with the ins and outs of the entire process. Experienced agents have seen a variety of situations and can help guide you through some of the more complicated things that might come up, especially situations related to financing or inspections.

The best way to get a feel for how experienced your real estate agent is would be to ask them how many times they've renewed their license. While someone can say "I've been an agent for 30 years," it could very well be the case that they started a long time ago, took a break, then got back into it at a later date. By asking how many times they've renewed their license, you'll learn quite a bit about their actual experience, according to The Balance. The length of a licensing period varies by state, but you can find out how long it is in your state by doing a search for (your state) + (how often to renew a real estate license). It's usually two to three years.

The general idea here is that agents who renew their license regularly don't have gaps in their experience, which means that they've consistently closed deals. This is to your benefit, since you can feel confident that they have a track record of success.

Your real estate agent has built a strong network

When you're working with a real estate agent, one of the benefits of having a good one is that they've taken the time to build and cultivate an impeccable network of associated professionals. This network can be vital to making your experience go as smoothly as possible. Financing, insurance, inspections, construction, trades, zoning, you name it, a good agent will have at least a few of these professionals in their network. That means that when you need help with something, you can turn to your agent and come away with a recommendation that you can trust.

Another benefit, according to Homelight, is that because these professionals have a relationship with your real estate agent, your agent may be able to get them to fit you in for work sooner than you'd normally be able to. And if your agent doesn't know someone directly, there's a good chance that they know other agents who have their own network of top-notch professionals to recommend.

This is another aspect in which having an experienced agent is an advantage; the longer they've been around, the more time they've had to cultivate their professional network. And because so much of the real estate and home services sector is based on word of mouth, they'll want to make sure that they're only referring you to professionals they trust. It's a win-win situation all around.

Your real estate agent is an excellent communicator

Communication is an essential part of any successful real estate transaction. A good real estate agent will not only be able to write property listings that garner interest, but they can communicate clearly with both their clients and any other professionals involved in the transaction. In terms of your dealings with your agent, it makes such a difference if you're not only comfortable talking to them and asking questions, but also that when you do ask them something, they're able to provide a clear, helpful answer. Communication snafus can make the entire process so much more difficult than it needs to be, and buying and selling property already comes with its share of complexities.

There's another aspect to this communication factor as well, according to the Premier Real Estate School of Tampa: likeability. The best agents have the kind of personality that puts people at ease and makes them want to work with them. They're open, engaging, and friendly, while still being professional. It's a tall order, which is why if your agent is a master communicator, you know you have a good one.

The best real estate agents are people-centered at heart. They genuinely like working with people and helping their clients reach their goals. And it's not just about their commission; they find it fulfilling to find just the right home for a buyer, or to help someone sell or rent out the property they've been trying to profit from.

Your real estate agent knows the area

While technically any agent can help you, it really pays to have a real estate agent who knows the area in which you're buying or selling. They can tell you about individual neighborhoods, as well as the pros and cons of them. But even more, according to Readynest, they can help with the details, whether you have questions about property taxes, water rates, local schools, or even the availability of public transportation. All of these are vital if you're moving somewhere you're not familiar with, and having an agent who knows the area and can ensure that you're not thrown off by unmet expectations, makes the entire process so much easier.

While a local agent is important no matter your situation is, having one "on the ground" in your desired locale if you're making a long-distance move is absolutely essential. Aside from knowing about the above issues, they can also help by taking you through video walkthroughs of properties and neighborhoods, which is the next best thing to being there yourself. This is a good first step when you're vetting properties, because then you can narrow down your options before making appointments to go see them in person.

An agent who is familiar with the area can also help because they'll have a network of other local professionals to refer you to for various issues. All of this together will make the process much more streamlined.

Your real estate agent advocates for you

The best agents treat their clients' deals the same way they'd approach a deal they're making for themselves. They make sure their clients are getting what they want, or try to find a way to make it happen. They're tenacious and resourceful, and will work with you until they know you're satisfied with the situation. An agent who brushes off their clients' concerns or tries to rush through the process regardless of a client's needs is an automatic red flag.

A good agent will "go to the mat" for you. They'll do their best to make sure your budgetary concerns, needs, preferences, and individual situation are all taken into account. They also won't make a deal until it's as close to perfect for their client as humanly possible.

Empathy is huge here. Real estate deals can be stressful, and while as real estate professionals they might be used to it, it's unlikely that it's an everyday part of your life. They'll keep that in mind and be not only patient but encouraging and informative about every step of the process. And if they feel like someone isn't working with you or doesn't have your best interests in mind, they'll speak up. Hand-in-hand with this, according to Zillow, is that they'll take the time to really get to know you and understand your concerns and stress points so they can handle them in a way that will make you more comfortable with the process.

Your real estate agent isn't pushy

It's a common stereotype at this point: the pushy salesperson. Nobody likes a hard sell, and nobody likes feeling pushed into something. Unfortunately some stereotypes have a basis in reality, and there are definitely pushy real estate agents out there who want to make the deal at any cost.

If your real estate agent not only listens to your concerns but keeps them in mind, and even gracefully passes up possible deals if they're not the right ones for you, then you've got a winner. The best agents don't encourage you to make concessions you're uncomfortable with in the name of a quick sale. Your transaction shouldn't just be one more notch in their real estate deal belt, so to speak. The best agents will put your needs above everything else, including a speedy sale and commission.

A life-changing event such as a real estate purchase or sale should be handled with care all around. A pushy agent — which is one of's top 10 signs of a bad agent – isn't putting the care required into ensuring the best for their client, while a good one recognizes the importance of the details and works in the best interest of their client, not just themselves.

Your real estate agent is focused and offers actionable advice

There is nothing more frustrating than having an important question and asking for input, and having someone essentially shrug their shoulders and wish you luck. And when this happens when you're dealing with something as important as buying or selling a home, it's absolutely maddening.

A great real estate agent will never do this. They'll look at any question or issue you have with the practiced eye that comes with experience and professionalism, and they'll not only answer your question, but offer real, actionable advice. Say you're trying to sell a home in a tough market. They won't just throw up a real estate listing and pat you on the head, telling you to be patient if it's not selling. Instead, they'll draw on their knowledge of the market to give you very specific advice and examples of how you can make your home more desirable to buyers.

And if you're a buyer trying to buy in a tough market, or are having a hard time finding just the right home, they'll work on a plan with you to either be able to finance more effectively or work with you to pinpoint exactly which qualities of a home or neighborhood are most important to you. According to Hommati, this sort of proactive, focused feedback and guidance from a professional who knows the area and is experienced in the field, is invaluable and will help you get exactly what you want.

Your real estate agent knows their stuff

A great real estate agent knows their business inside and out. Not only can they buy, sell and negotiate, but they know all about things like home warranties, financing, insurance, home staging, taxes, effective copywriting and photography, real estate laws and regulations, and a plethora of other related topics. And not only do they know these things, but because a great agent is also a great communicator, they can explain them to you in a way that will help you go through the process with confidence.

Great real estate agents know the process of buying and selling real estate, and that process should start with pre-approval. An effective agent will ask almost immediately if you've been pre-approved if you're trying to buy a home. If you haven't been, they'll help you get that process underway so you can move forward. This streamlines the process and helps determine exactly how much you can afford. They'll be by your side from this point, all the way through until closing.

According to US News & World Report, many real estate agents now refer to themselves as "real estate advisors," which is a perfect descriptor for what great agents are. It's not just about the deal, but about genuinely helping their clients.

Your real estate agent asks about your long-term needs and goals

The best real estate agents listen and take your individual needs into mind; they aren't cookie cutter in how they serve their clients. They also understand that every individual and every situation is unique, and that what worked for one client might not necessarily work for you.

As part of this depth of understanding, a great agent will ask about your future goals and possibilities. According to Apartment Therapy, one of the questions an agent should ask is "where do you see yourself in five years?" Additionally, questions such as whether you plan to start a family, downsize, have pets, want space to garden, or plan to provide guest rooms for family, for example, will help your agent pin down a plan for helping you not just in the immediate future, but years into the future as well.

Figuring out these longer-term goals will help your agent get the most out of this deal for you. A family that plans to expand in the next few years will need more bedrooms and maybe prefer a location near schools or parks. Someone who wants to adopt a dog will need a nice-sized yard, and someone who loves gardening would love a nice, sunny place to grow things. Again, it's not just about the deal, but about serving their clients to their fullest possible abilities.

Your real estate agent really considers your budget

Just because you're pre-approved for an amount and can spend that much on a home, doesn't always mean you should. A great real estate agent will encourage you to get real about your finances and situation so you don't end up in a situation in which your mortgage is overwhelming you. They'll want you to be realistic about your current monthly expenses and how a mortgage payment will affect you.

A real estate agent that's truly working for you will do this, even though they might make a smaller commission. This is because the best agents know that their reputation is built on word of mouth and reviews. If a client ends up over-extended and unhappy with the way things worked out, they're less likely to recommend an agent to their friends and family. They're also less likely to leave positive reviews.

In a business that's essentially built on reputation and word of mouth, a truly professional real estate agent will take the short term loss in commission for the long-term gain of building a reputation that brings in business. In the end, a great real estate agent is always customer-focused, according to Zia Group. They know it's the best way to build a strong reputation.

Your real estate agent asks questions

As excellent communicators, the best real estate agents are also adept at asking questions to figure out what it is that will delight their clients. Beyond the basics, such as how many bedrooms you need or which neighborhood you prefer, a great agent will delve into the details of what you liked and didn't like about properties they've shown you. And not only will they ask, but, according to The Lighter Side of Real Estate, they'll keep those answers in mind, refining the choices they present to you so you get something as close to your dream home as possible.

This process of asking questions, getting feedback, refining their options, and then presenting new options makes all the difference between a fantastic experience with a real estate agent and an utterly horrible one. An agent that not only asks questions, but asks the right ones, challenging you a little, helping you fully refine your goals, is a treasure and the best ones do this consistently with their clients.

An important aspect of this is that you'll need to be fully honest with your agent and think about what's most important so they can help you as much as possible. This isn't a time to hold back with your opinions.