When buying or selling real estate, finding the right agent is half the battle. Having a skilled and knowledgeable professional on your side when navigating complex transactions is an idea worth considering.
Here’s how to choose the right one.
- Talk to past clients
Ask the agents if they can provide a list of their recent sales with the corresponding contact information. That way, you can ask previous clients about their experience with the agent. Find out both the asking price and the actual price for the sold property. Ask them how long the property stayed in the market and what the agent did to promote the listing.
- Look at their qualifications and credentials
To receive a real estate license in Texas, aspiring agents must take 180 hours’ worth of pre-licensing education, complete the final exam for each corresponding course, and choose a sponsoring broker. They must also be registered with the Texas Real Estate Commission (TREC) and pass the commission’s licensing examination. Once they pass a thorough background check, during which the commission checks for any disqualifying criminal records, TREC will give them an Active Sales Agent License.
Agents with at least four years of experience in Texas may apply for a broker license. This allows them to handle transactions on their own, as well as hire agents based on a commission split.
Agents who want to gain MLS access must join the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and the Texas Association of Realtors (TAR). The local Realtor boards are an extension of NAR and TAR and embody the local level of the state and national associations.
To become a Realtor, an agent is required to attend an orientation at the local board and pledge themselves to the Realtor Code of Ethics and to all the rules imposed by NAR. Failure to follow NAR’s rules and codes of ethics can lead to their dismissal as a member of NAR, TAR, and the local board.
- Be aware of disciplinary actions
TREC reviews complaints on all residential and commercial real estate transactions in the state, conducts investigations, and takes disciplinary action against unscrupulous agents based on their findings.
The TREC site has a list of disciplinary actions that have been carried out against specific agents, so check their database before hiring someone to represent you.
Common complaints against agents in Texas include:
- Breach of fiduciary duty
- Making false promises
- Violations of TREC’s advertising rules
- Unlicensed activity
- Licensure issues, including the agent’s criminal background history, application refusals, and probationary licenses
- Leasing and property management-related issues, such as misappropriation and failure to account for money, negligence
- Poor broker supervision
- Ask about any awards
Peer-given awards are a vote of confidence from the community. One such award is Realtor of the Year, an award given to outstanding agents by the state or local branch of NAR. But there are other peer-given awards that reflect an agent’s competence.
- Find out how much experience they have
If the agent is inexperienced, they’re essentially learning as they go. That can be risky for business. Work with someone who is strongly engaged in a specific community and price range. Only hire an agent with demonstrated knowledge of the county and the homes within your price range.
Call HBS Real Estate at (817) 550-6666 for expert assistance in Texas’ housing and commercial real estate market.