If conversations with friends–especially recent home buyers–have not yielded a leading candidate for a realtor, I recommend calling around to all of the different offices about the homes they have listed. Evaluate them based on how they respond to your calls or e-mails. Are they relentless? Are they courteous? Did you receive prompt service.
A realtor who follows up is ideal.
It may be enough to choose whoever responds the most and provides the most service. That is the key to finding a house. A realtor who is always e-mailing new homes and offering to help is the best asset a home buyer can have.
Remember, this is no time to worry about hurting someone’s feelings. If you do not trust a realtor or find his/her mannerisms difficult to deal with, move on.
I personally prefer a realtor who is capable of using e-mail. I don’t know how houses were sold before e-mail. It must have taken years to sell a house! E-mail provides a simple way to share documents and to keep others in the loop.
Another helpful way to evaluate a realtor is to view a home with him/her. Does the realtor have anything to hide or is there a steady stream of information about the house? A series of “I don’t knows” or indifference toward your concerns is the sign of a bad realtor. If a realtor doesn’t know the answers to your questions, he/she should have them answered in a few days. If not, then the buyers concerns are clearly not important.
Though a realtor is essentially working for the seller, the mark of a good realtor is the ability to learn about the buyer’s concerns and preferences and to then act accordingly. There should be no pressure, no brushing off, and no evasiveness. Once again, if you are not comfortable, find another realtor.
One final note: check the papers to see who is closing the most homes. This does not make a good realtor, but it can be a good sign.