Finding the Right Real Estate Agent

It seems that there are real estate agents everywhere.  Maybe it’s because I’m surrounded by it every day, but I feel like every time I turn the corner, there is another real estate agent.  This feeling is confirmed by the fact that, as of April 2018, there were over 400,000 real estate licensees in California.  Given that there are somewhere around 39-40 million Californians, this means there is 1 realtor for every 100 people in California!

It’s a no-brainer that picking a good real estate agent to work with should be a top priority when buying or selling your home.  But, with so many choices, how do you pick the right one for you? 

Here are my top tips on what to look for in a solid real estate agent:

Communication Skills

Many in the real estate profession are talkers rather than listeners.  You’ve most likely met that guy or gal at an open house who can talk your ear off, rather than asking about your needs or concerns and giving you a chance to voice them.  Additionally, the home buying and selling process can be a complex process.  It’s important for your agent to be able to communicate clearly and effectively to help you navigate this process.

Look for:  someone who actively listens to your needs and concerns; only after listening can they start to understand what you are trying to accomplish and then provide valuable guidance accordingly.

Negotiating Skills

The basic premise of a real estate transaction is that the parties (buyer and seller) have a common goal and are trying to reach an agreement that is mutually beneficial.  Thus, a successful real estate transaction is one in which both parties received what they wanted.  The job of the real estate agent, therefore, is to make sure that happens.  They identify issues and find common ground, guiding the parties through a process of back and forth until a mutually beneficial agreement is realized and the parties get what they bargained for.

At the same time, the real estate agent is acting as a fiduciary for their client (the buyer or the seller).  They must be capable, then, of navigating their dual roles as intermediary and fiduciary, acting in your best interests but also trying to bring both sides together to reach an agreement.

Look for:  someone with experience in negotiations and a thorough understanding of their role in the transaction.

Attention to Detail + Problem Solving Skills

The typical real estate transaction is riddled with potential liabilities and red flags.  You want an agent who will spot potential issues before they arise, bring them to your attention with a proposed solution, and help keep you from getting into trouble down the line.  As a seller, you want to be sure to disclose all materials facts of which you are aware to any interested buyers.  As a buyer, you want to be sure to ask the right questions and do your due diligence.  Even if you had experience with buying or selling your home before, no two transactions are exactly alike because no two properties are exactly alike.

Look for:  an agent who takes the time to provide information in an organized, accurate, and consistent way.  In addition, an agent who provides resources and solutions to potential problems.


By definition, an agent is someone who has authority to act on your behalf.  This person should be your fiduciary:  they have the ethical obligation to act in your best interests.  Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case.

Look for:  someone you make a connection with, who you feel is being 100% honest with you, providing you information up front, and who has a track record for honesty and integrity.  Read client testimonials and ask for references.


The pace of today’s real estate market demands quick action.  Currently, a home in San Francisco is sold within 27 days on average.  The escrow process can be less than a month.  Therefore, when faced with an offer deadline for a popular property, or an interested buyer who wants to make an offer on your house, you cannot afford to sit around waiting for a response from your real estate team for days on end.

Look for:  an agent who responds to your inquiries promptly, or communicates when they will be unavailable, to keep your stress levels low.


Buying or selling a home can be one of the biggest investment decisions you’ll ever make.  Be sure to find a trusted, reliable agent who can help guide you through the process efficiently and effectively.

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