You can find a realtor almost everywhere these days – whether through online sources like Google and Facebook, billboards and radio ads, or recommendations from family, friends, and neighbors.
So many options can make your search overwhelming. We think most people should stick to sources that make it fast and easy to find quality local real estate agents.
How to find a realtor: Top 3 ways
- Agent matching services. These companies pre-screen local agents after learning more about your specific needs as a home seller or buyer. This is the easiest, fastest way to find a good realtor because they do all the work for you (and they’re free). Some, like Clever Real Estate, even offer big commission savings for sellers and buyers.
- Personal referrals. Family and friends can provide a credible referral source, but you need to vet each agent’s experience and qualifications carefully. An agent who isn’t local or doesn’t have the expertise you need is a bad choice, even if they come highly recommended.
- Open houses. You can meet with local agents without needing an appointment, but there’s no guarantee of a good match – and you could be wasting your valuable weekend time.
There are many other ways to find the right real estate agent, but some methods are better than others. Our guide covers them all and helps you zero in on the best approach for you.
How to find a real estate agent for sellers
|👉 What to look for|
|🏡 Experience: Search for a seller's agent with at least 3 years of experience, as they've likely closed a variety of sales, and understand the various challenges that can arise during a real estate transaction.|
|📈Local sales: The agent should help a lot of sellers in your zip code. Local knowledge helps agents determine a fair listing price for your home, develop a strong marketing strategy, and get your home sold fast.|
|📸 A savvy marketer: Good listing agents do more than put a sign on your front lawn – they also provide professional photos, post your home on social media, and host effective open houses.|
|📍Sale location: Only find agents who work in the neighborhood you’re aiming to sell in.|
A good listing agent prepares your home for sale, determines a fair list price, markets it to potential buyers, and negotiates favorable contract terms on your behalf.
We recommend you find 2-3 listing agents to interview at least 3 months prior to your target list date. That should give you enough time to compare options, prepare your home for sale, and get it listed.
Here are the 3 most effective ways to find a realtor for sellers.
1. Agent matching services
|⏩ Ease and speed: Someone else does all of the screening and sends you potential matches in a few hours or less.|
|⭐ Better agents: Most agent matching services have quality criteria for agents who want to join the network.|
|👥 Compare the best options: The best agent matching services give you 2–3 matches so you can weigh your options.|
|✔ Quality control: The agent matching service ensures that the agent meets their standards throughout the sales process and can even step in if something goes wrong.|
|💸 Savings: The best agent matching services pre-negotiate savings on your behalf.|
|🆓 100% free: All agent matching services are free for consumers since they make money by charging agents a referral fee.|
Agent matching services are the fastest, easiest way to get connected to an experienced real estate agent. The best ones recommend 2-3 pre-vetted agents after first learning about your needs.
You can’t work with any agent you want (selection is limited to agents in each company’s network). But the top brands still offer plenty of choices, and only work with highly-rated agents.
Unlike other ways to find a realtor, agent matching services may also provide built-in commission savings, potentially saving you thousands on your home sale.
The bottom line
It’s worth starting your search here. Agent matching services are 100% free, with no obligation to work with any recommended agent. The potential cost savings are too good to pass up.
For example, Clever Real Estate negotiates a 1.5% listing commission rate with agents (instead of the typical 2.5-3%), saving you thousands on realtor commissions.
⚠️ Not all agent matching services are equal
Some agent matching services miss the mark when it comes to quality and value because they don’t carefully vet agents who join their network, and they don’t offer matches with multiple agents.
For example, FastExpert doesn’t have any requirements for agents who want to join their network, while Ideal Agent only matches customers with a single agent at a time — eliminating the possibility of comparing options.
The leading services, like Clever, do it all — they help you save money, provide multiple matches so you can compare options, and they ensure you’re only connected with top-performing local agents.
Best agent matching services
|Company||Built-in savings||Multiple matches|
|Best overall 🏆||Clever||✅||✅|
|Third place 🥉||Ideal Agent||✅||❌|
🏆 Our top pick: Clever Real Estate
Clever offers customers the most value when compared to other top agent matching services.
The company pre-negotiates a flat rate with listing agents, so you pay the agent just 1.5% to list your home instead of the typical 2.5–3%.
Clever also matches you with multiple agents, giving you the chance to interview several agents and select the one you like best.
2. Personal referrals
Get connected with agents through friends and family
- Can be a quick first step
- Work with someone your trust
- Learn more about the agent
Referrals can be great, but don’t accept them without doing your homework. Even if you trust the person who’s referring you to the agent, look into the agent’s expertise and local knowledge before you go any further.
Family and friends provide a credible, trustworthy referral source since the referral comes from someone who cares about you (and probably wouldn’t recommend a realtor they didn’t like).
But referrals are not the most reliable way to find an agent for a few reasons.
⚠️ Why personal referrals aren’t bulletproof
- You need to know someone who recently sold a similar home in your area.
- It’s hard to gauge whether or not the agent will be a good fit for your specific needs.
- You must carefully vet the agent’s experience, sales history, and online reviews.
- The agent probably won’t offer you a discount like they would if you connected with them through an agent matching service.
- Things could get awkward if the agent is a family member or friend. You should keep your relationship professional, and hire someone you’d be comfortable firing if they don’t meet your expectation.
The bottom line
Personal referrals can provide legit realtor recommendations, but we don’t recommend working with a listing agent just because they helped a family member or friend.
You need to thoroughly vet and compare referred agents with at least a few other agents from other sources to make an informed decision.
3. Finding a realtor at open houses
You can find a listing agent by attending an agent’s open house, but it takes more time and effort than other methods, with no guarantees of a good match.
The benefits: You can meet with local agents without needing an appointment, simply by showing up at a scheduled open house in your area, where you can vet the agent’s market knowledge and communication skills.
There’s also little risk involved (other than potentially wasting an hour or so of your time). Talk to the agent, exchange contact information and set a follow-up appointment, or simply walk away if it’s a bad fit.
⚠️ Who are you meeting with?
You simply don’t know if you’ll be meeting with an experienced agent or a rookie, and there’s no way to know if the agent will be a good match for you.
The agent hosting the open house isn’t always the home’s listing agent, either. It could be another agent in their office helping them out. So it’s probably a good idea to find out who’s hosting the open house and vet that agent before attending.
The bottom line
Open houses provide an easy way to talk with local realtors. But it’s often a hit-or-miss way to find a realtor to sell your home.
How to find a realtor at an open house
If you want to give an open house a shot, here’s what to do next.
- Search Zillow listings before the upcoming weekend to find all scheduled open houses in your area. You can also drive around looking for open house signs, but searching online is much faster and easier.
- On Zillow’s main page, click on homes for sale, and then click “more” and “must have an open house.”
- Scroll down under the home’s listing description. You’ll see the time and date of the open house, as well as the name of the real estate broker.
- Show up during the scheduled time. An agent representing the listing brokerage should be waiting for you inside.
- Ask the agent any questions you may have about selling your home or the local market, and learn more about their experience and skills.
How to find a realtor for buyers
|👉 What to look for|
|🏡 Local knowledge: Search for agents who have helped lots of buyers in your market — they'll show you homes that match your buying criteria, and have strategies to help you win a home over the competition.|
|💲Sale price history: Find agents who mostly assist buyers in your price range.|
|👍🏻 Positive reviews: Check Zillow to see if the agent's buyer clients had a good experience – look at the review comments to see how the agent performed.|
|📍Sale location: Only find agents who work in the neighborhood you’re aiming to buy in.|
A good real estate agent is critical to finding and winning the home of your dreams – especially in a competitive seller’s market.
It’s crucial to find a real estate agent who is responsive and available to show you homes at any hour of the day, given how fast homes are flying off the shelves in most major markets.
What does a buyer’s agent do?
- Send you available homes on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) – the database where all agents and brokers list houses.
- Schedule and coordinate home showings.
- Submit offers and negotiate price and contract terms on your behalf.
- Refer you to inspectors, contractors, and appraisers to assist with your purchase.
- Help you read through contracts and sign paperwork.
- Meet all contract deadlines to close on time.
Finding and comparing buyer’s agents is easier than listing agents because you may not need to commit to an agent to begin touring homes.
Unlike listing agents, who usually require a signed listing agreement before they can represent you, some buyer’s agents don’t ask you to sign a contract until you’re ready to submit an offer (however, the laws vary by state).
Here’s how to find the best real estate agent for buying a home.
1. Agent matching services
Agent matching services are our top choice. AMS’ can match you up quickly to pre-vetted local agents who specialize in helping buyers.
Some companies, like Clever Real Estate, provide built-in commission savings for buyers, which you likely won’t find through other sourcing methods.
It’s also a good choice for buyers who want to look at homes ASAP. You get agent matches within just a few hours of signing up and confirming your details.
💰Big savings: Clever offers cash back on eligible home purchases, so in addition to finding a top buyer’s agent to help you score the home of your dreams, you can save some money as well. Always a nice thing!
2. Lender referrals
Lenders provide a credible referral source. Like realtors, lenders only get paid if you close on a home, and likely wouldn’t refer you to an agent they don’t trust.
Another potential benefit: Realtors and lenders have likely developed strong, clear lines of communication, which can make the buying process a smoother experience.
However, you still need to vet the referred agent carefully. And some lenders may care more about maintaining a business relationship with an agent vs. looking out for your best interests.
Another drawback: Lender referrals likely won’t provide you with commission savings, unlike agent matching services.
3. Online realtor search
Popular real estate sites like Zillow and Realtor.com have agent finder tools that allow you to look up agents by city or ZIP code – but we don’t recommend using them to find a realtor.
Agent finder tools may seem like an easy way to find local agents, but they actually make it harder:
- There are thousands of agents to choose from. It can take hours to find even a handful of relevant options.
- Online real estate sites tend to favor agents who pay to advertise, such as Zillow Premier Agents, so the rankings don’t necessarily indicate which agents are actually best.
Even if you find agents, you’ll still have to wade through all of them and carefully vet each agent you select (an agent matching service does this for you).
⚔️ Agent finder tools vs. agent matching services
Good agent matching services focus on quality control and still give you a way to choose the best agent for your needs.
In contrast, agent finder tools on sites like Zillow and Realtor.com give preference to agents who buy customer leads, so there’s no assurance that the agents you connect with using these tools will be a good fit.
🛑 Avoid using Zillow, Realtor, and Google to find a realtor
- Zillow prioritizes agents who pay to advertise
Zillow’s agent finder gives preference to agents who pay to market themselves on Zillow.
The “Featured agents” list at the top of the results shows Zillow Premier agents with the most reviews, the most transactions, or a combination of the two.
This emphasis on volume doesn’t really give you any qualitative information about what the agent is actually like. For example, an agent might have 600 reviews, but that doesn’t mean they’re all positive.
You might have to scroll through several pages of results before you start seeing non-Premier agents.
Zillow is also notorious for having incomplete data. For example, a listing agent’s info in the agent finder search results might say that they have 20 sales in the past 12 months, but you’ll notice that they have no active listings if you click on their whole profile.
For this reason, it’s best not to rely on Zillow’s data when you’re vetting an agent.
2. Realtor can be both limiting and overwhelming to use
Realtor.com’s search tool can help you search for local REALTORS. But it excludes agents who aren’t members of the National Association of REALTORS (NAR). This means it leaves out hundreds, if not thousands, of possible good agents.
The tool ranks agents by metrics like years of experience, number of sales in the past 24 months, and active listings.
Those metrics can be helpful, but they don’t give you the full story – like what actual customers are saying about the agent or where they’re doing the majority of their business — unless you’re willing to keep digging for the information.
If you’re using Realtor’s search tool, you might have to search by ZIP code and then pick a few agents based on your own criteria before you can learn more about each agent.
3. Google agents pay to advertise
You’ll probably notice a list of agents who are “Google screened” when you do a local realtor search. These agents pay to advertise on Google. “Google screened” only means that Google has verified the agent holds an active real estate license.
The agents haven’t been evaluated on meaningful factors like customer reviews, transaction volume, and expertise, so don’t rely on Google to find the best realtor for you.
You’ll also probably see business listings when you search for agents. This just means that the agent or their broker has set up a Google page, not that they’re the best agent in your area.
As always, do your homework and look out for bad customer reviews before you contact an agent.
You can use Realtor.com transaction data to dive deeper
Realtor.com generally has more up-to-date transaction data than Zillow. We recommend using it to learn more about how much money comparable homes in your area are selling for.
This might also be a good way to find the names of 3–4 agents who you can interview. At the very least, you’ll know that they all have experience in the right neighborhood at the right price point. Here’s how to find those names:
- Above the search bar on the Realtor.com home page, click “Just sold” and then search by city or ZIP code.
- Use the filters to show results that match the features of the home you want to buy or sell.
- You’ll see sold prices for matching results. Click on individual listings to see if the agent represented the buyer or seller.
How to find a real estate agent: 7 other methods
1. Walk into a brokerage office
Most major real estate brokerages, like Re-Max and Century 21, still have physical offices.
Walk-ins are more than welcome by real estate agents, who typically have to advertise and market themselves aggressively to find new clients.
But like a blind date, you don’t know what you’re walking into. You could be meeting with a brand-new agent or an unlicensed assistant. Top producing agents are often out in the field helping clients or writing up contracts.
If you visit a brokerage, it’s best to request the business cards of several top agents, vet each agent online, and then set up appointments if any seem like a good fit.
2. Online forums or message boards
Online forums and message boards like Nextdoor and Front Porch Forum can provide you with realtor recommendations from local residents.
However, there’s no guarantee that you’re getting a good match, and you don’t know the person who’s making the recommendation. After all, it could be someone just trying to help out a family member or friend.
3. For sale signs
If you’re looking to sell a house, you can call the number listed on homes for sale in your area, which puts you in touch with each home’s listing agent.
However, finding agents through for-sale signs only works if the home is in your area and in a similar price range to yours. You still need to vet each agent carefully.
4. Local ads
Some top agents in your market pay big bucks to plaster their faces and phone numbers on television, radio, and billboards around town.
There’s no risk in reaching out and setting up an appointment. But you need to vet and screen each agent carefully before doing so – just because the agent advertises doesn’t mean they are a good fit for you.
5. Credit unions
Credit unions are nonprofit financial institutions that often provide members with access to mortgage financing and other loan products.
Your local credit union may have partnered with a real estate brokerage to provide you with help in your home search (or sale), including finding a local agent.
However, you need to belong to a local credit union to be eligible, and most have very specific requirements. There’s also no guarantee of a match (we recommend vetting each agent carefully).
6. Social media
You can find real estate agents on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram by searching popular realtor hashtags. Realtors love to post photos of current listings to attract buyers and win new business.
For example, the term “#SummervilleRealtors” returns 100+ recent posts on Instagram and surfaces dozens of local real estate agent profiles.
Social media is a good way to quickly vet an agent’s marketing skills. But it’s not a great way to find a realtor. The agent’s social media posts say nothing of their experience and track record, so you’ll need to do your own vetting.
7. NAR’s search tool
Using the National Association of Realtors (NAR) search tool is probably the worst way to find a realtor.
NAR’s search tool is dated, and the results don’t provide any information about the realtor’s experience or sales history, making it impossible to compare agents.
Instead, we recommend finding and vetting agents elsewhere, and then using the tool to look up a realtor’s contact information, professional designations, and if they’ve had any formal complaints filed against them.
Key realtor criteria to consider
We spoke to several top-producing real estate agents in major markets. Here’s what they recommend drilling down on when you’re trying to find a good realtor.
📈 Sales history: Experience is super-important. Experts agree that the best agents close between 12-50 deals in a year, and have at least 3 years of full-time real estate experience.
However, agents with an unusually large number of transactions (50+ per year) or years of experience (5+ years) aren’t automatically the best option for you – they might be too busy to help you or provide poor service.
📍Local knowledge: Look for agents with at least 3 years of experience working in and around your zip code.
Knowledgeable agents know how to best market your home to buyers and get it sold for the highest price, or provide you with important local information to help you make a more informed purchase.
💰Sale price range: Learn if the agent has experience helping buyers or sellers in your price range, as it indicates they know your segment of the market. You wouldn’t want to work with an agent who deals mostly in luxury sales if you’re a first-time home buyer, for example.
😠 Bad reviews: Good customer reviews can be helpful, but bad reviews can help you weed out bad or inexperienced agents. Numerous bad reviews may be a red flag and a sign to steer clear of an agent. Watch out for a pattern of negative comments on real estate websites like Zillow and Trulia.
After compiling a shortlist of great options to choose from, check out our guide on how to choose a realtor for more in-depth advice.
How to find a realtor: FAQs
How do I find a good real estate agent?
The most reliable way to find a good real estate agent is to use an agent matching service. The service will learn about your situation as a buyer or seller and then connect you with 2–3 top local agents in their network who might be a good fit.
Agent matching services are free, there's no obligation, and they're easy to use.
We recommend using Clever Real Estate. You can get matched with multiple agents and interview the one who's the best fit for you, and you'll save thousands of dollars in commission.
How do I find a local real estate agent?
- Work with a free agent matching service (Best): Agent matching services have a network of pre-vetted agents, so they can take your information and quickly match you with 2–3 local agents who would be a good fit.
- Ask friends and family in the area for recommendations (Can also work): Referrals from someone you trust can be helpful if their buying or selling situation was similar to yours. However, you still need to vet each referral to find out if they're actually a good agent for your situation.
- Try an agent finder tool like Realtor.com or Zillow (If all else fails): We don't recommend using these sites because they're biased towards realtors who pay for advertising, and because searching on your own is time consuming.
I'm a first-time home buyer. How do I find a realtor?
First-time home buyers should stick to trusted sources to find a realtor. We recommend starting with agent matching services, followed by asking a local lender for recommendations, and searching online.
You can also get a referral from family, friends, or neighbors, but you need to vet each referral to make sure they're a good fit for your situation.
Other ways to find a buyer's agent include walking into a local brokerage office or finding agents at local open houses.
Why you should trust us
Real Estate Witch’s mission is to provide accurate, actionable, and practical information you can use to make better decisions on your real estate journey.
About the authors
Steve Nicastro is a real estate agent, investor, and personal finance writer based in South Carolina. While working as a full-time agent between 2020-21, Steve closed 19 transactions totaling $6 million in volume.
Steve has also shadowed several top-producing agents in the Charleston, S.C. market, learning the ins and outs of the business – including how home buyers and sellers find and choose the best agent to work with.
Before writing for Real Estate Witch, he spent more than 6 years on NerdWallet’s content team as a personal finance writer. His work has been published in USA Today, The Associated Press, and US News, among other publications.
Andrew Whytock contributed to this article. He spent hours interviewing realtors, real estate investors, and experienced home buyers and sellers to find out how to find and choose the best realtor.
Andrew has written dozens of other articles and guides to educate homeowners on the home sale process.
How to Choose a Realtor: Expert Secrets. Learn how to vet agents, set up interviews, read and sign a buyer’s agency agreement or listing agreement, and pick the best realtor for you.
How to Sell Your House – The Ultimate Guide. Learn everything you need to know about the home sale process, from start to finish.
The Best Discount Real Estate Brokers. Discover more companies that negotiate commission rates in your favor, potentially saving you thousands on realtor commissions.
What’s a Buyer’s Agent? (And Do I Need One?) Buyer’s agents represent home buyers. Learn more about what a good buyer’s agent will do for you when you’re ready to buy a new home.
What’s a Listing Agent? (Do I Need One?) Listing agents work with home sellers to help them sell quickly and for the best possible price. Learn more about how they do it!