A good real estate agent helps you find and buy your dream home at a great price, or sell your house fast and for top dollar.
But searching and choosing among the hundreds of local agents in your market can be challenging, especially if you’re unsure of the key qualities that make a good realtor.
The trick is understanding which skills, traits, and characteristics separate good agents from bad ones. Armed with this knowledge, you can confidently choose an expert realtor who’ll set you up for success.
To make your search for the right real estate agent easier, we’ve developed a guide with the top seven signs of a good agent.
» LEARN: How to find a real estate agent
Top signs of a good real estate agent
|🏆 Experience: Top agents typically have at least 2 years of experience.|
|💡 Local knowledge: An agent should be deeply familiar with your market.|
|👌 Honesty: The best agents are trustworthy and candid.|
|🏃 Hustle: A top agent goes the extra mile for their clients.|
|🔍 Attention to detail: A well-organized realtor stays on top of things.|
|😀 Personable: A good agent is friendly and patient, not rude or irritable.|
|📞 Responsive: A top agent is easy to reach and keeps everyone in the loop.|
The best real estate agents have a positive professional reputation, a proven track record, and years of experience. Look for an agent that has worked in the real estate industry for at least two years.
A good real estate agent “should know what to look for when buying or selling a home, and be able to navigate the tricky waters of the real estate market,” says Alan Harder, a mortgage broker in Vancouver, Canada. “They should also have a solid network of professionals they can rely on, such as loan officers, home inspectors, and appraisers.”
It pays to have a seasoned agent in your corner — a pro who has helped many clients navigate the same challenges. A lot can go wrong in a home purchase or sale.
How to check experience level
Look up their real estate license to see when it was issued. You can also find out how long they’ve been active in the industry by checking their sales history on their Zillow page.
Ask the agent for a list of recent and past sales. The data they give you should come from the multiple listing service (MLS) — a database most agents use to market and sell homes.
Meet with agents who’ve worked with other buyers or sellers in your price range. An agent or brokerage firm specializing in million-dollar home sales isn’t the best fit if you need to sell a $300,000 house, regardless of their experience level.
2. Local knowledge
A knowledgeable listing agent uses their local expertise to:
- Price your home appropriately based on recent home sales in the area.
- Identify and market your home’s key selling points.
- Negotiate with buyers and their agents on your behalf.
- Help you decide on the best offer to accept.
- Educate you on your legal requirements as a seller.
A knowledgeable buyer’s agent knows how to:
- Help you find local homes that meet your criteria.
- Set up home tours and walk through each property.
- Structure a competitive offer on your top pick.
- Negotiate with sellers and their listing agents.
- Refer you to other competent professionals, like attorneys and home inspectors.
How to gauge an agent’s local knowledge
Listing agents: An agent who knows their stuff should be able to provide a detailed and thoughtful listing presentation or comparative market analysis (CMA) report.
Agents use listing presentations and CMAs to pitch their services to home sellers. An agent shares information about the local market, their marketing strategy, and a recommended listing price.
Good agents offer a meticulous listing presentation or CMA and can defend their pricing recommendation if challenged.
A knowledgeable listing agent can also speak fluently about the market and answer your questions on the spot.
Buyer’s agents: An agent with local expertise can help you find a great house in your target area and guide you through the home-buying process.
The agent should know prices and trends in the local market, as well as real estate laws, zoning rules, utility costs, school district performance, and other common homeowner concerns.
A good buyer’s agent draws on their understanding of market conditions to structure a competitive offer on a house.
Knowledgeable agents “have a detailed understanding of local pricing trends, property tax rates, and regulations,” says Megan Micco, broker associate and CEO of Megan Micco, Inc. “Don’t fall for the story that real estate is the same everywhere, because it’s not!”
The financial and legal stakes of buying or selling a home are high, so it’s important to work with someone you can trust.
Real estate presents opportunities for agents to lie, exaggerate, or deceive to make a quick buck. Some agents may do the following:
- Inflate a property’s value in a CMA report to try to win a seller’s business
- Push you into buying a house that is not the right fit.
- Represent their experience and production level as a top-producing agent when they’re a rookie.
- Falsely claim that realtor commission is non-negotiable.
- Charge bogus fees.
An honest realtor will avoid these practices. When touring homes, for instance, they won’t embellish a home’s condition and features to persuade you to buy a crummy house.
For sellers, an honest agent will tell you if an offer isn’t good instead of pushing you into accepting the offer.
Candor and frankness are signs of an honest realtor. Be wary of an agent that always tells you what you want to hear.
How to tell if an agent is honest
Check and verify their experience and past deals. Read client reviews and ask for customer referrals. Research an agent’s claims about the market or the buying/selling process.
Interview multiple agents and ask detailed questions to see if they seem honest. Ask about their experience level, commission rate (and what it includes), strengths and weaknesses, and cancellation policy (in case you later need to part ways with your agent).
Realtors are professionally obligated to be honest and transparent, but not all realtors meet this standard. If an agent’s claims seem too good to be true (for example, they seem to misrepresent the value of the home you’re listing), get a second opinion from another agent.
A driven and successful agent will go the extra mile on your behalf.
Buying or selling a house is a complex, lengthy process, so look for agents that have the dedication and work ethic to see it through. Self-motivation and hustle can make the difference between a lackluster agent and a superstar.
How to measure an agent’s hustle
Look beyond an agent’s paper credentials. Interview them in person to judge their drive to help you.
Use your initial meeting or listing presentation to evaluate an agent’s thoroughness and professionalism — good indicators of their level of hustle.
“Don’t just get sold on the fancy national brokerage affiliations,” says Vincent Chan, chief operating officer of the real estate development and investment firm Christina. “Sometimes the younger, newer agents who work for independent brokerages will have more to prove, work hardest, and be your best advocate.”
5. Attention to detail
Buying or selling a home is a complex transaction with many details.
A disorganized agent may overlook some details, like missing a paperwork deadline or failing to inform you of your responsibilities as a seller or buyer. One missed deadline or overlooked form can derail a deal and even get you into legal trouble.
Signs of an organized agent
The agent’s self-presentation can reveal a lot about their attention to detail and organization skills. A well-dressed agent who shows up on time and professionally conducts themselves is likely more competent and dependable than one who doesn’t.
“When evaluating other real estate professionals, consider how they present themselves during your initial interaction,” says Bill Samuel, real estate broker and head of cash home buyer company Blue Ladder Development. “Did they prepare for your meeting with detailed information and have an organized conversation covering all of the key points of the transaction?”
An agent should be warm, personable, and patient — never rude or irritated.
An agent needs patience to educate you about the market and the real estate process. They should listen to you carefully and be responsive to your questions and concerns. This behavior shows they understand and care about your situation, and it signals they’ll likely walk you through important contract details as the process unfolds.
If you find an agent easy to work with, people on the other side of the deal will likely feel the same, which increases your chances of achieving your goals as a seller or buyer.
Signs of a personable realtor
Look for agents who are empathetic, friendly, and genuine.
“You want someone who sees you as an individual and is genuinely curious about your financial and emotional needs,” says Micco, the broker associate. “Someone to guide you based on what is best for your situation, not the agent’s pocketbook.”
“Trust your instincts,” Micco adds. “Personal chemistry is worth its weight in gold.”
7. Good communication
Clear, timely communication is vital in any real estate transaction. Because a realtor is the main point of contact in a transaction, they should make sure all parties — buyers, sellers, agents, lenders, inspectors, appraisers, title companies, and attorneys — are on the same page.
Your agent needs to be a skilled communicator when showing your house to prospective buyers, negotiating a contract, or answering your questions about the home-buying or selling process.
How responsive should your realtor be?
A responsive agent should:
- Be accessible by phone during business hours.
- Reply to your texts and emails within 1–2 hours.
- Contact you proactively at every step in the buying or selling process to inform you about what’s next and what’s needed from you.
- Let you know if they’ll be unreachable for a certain period.
Experts agree that effective communication between agents and their clients is crucial. Just one delayed email response can prevent you from closing on your ideal offer or the home of your dreams, notes Ricardo Mello, co-founder and managing partner of Manhattan Miami Real Estate.
Bill Gassett, realtor and founder of Maximum Real Estate Exposure, warns that an agent’s lack of communication is a red flag: “Some agents are notorious for putting communication on the back burner.”
For example, a buyer’s agent should give feedback to a listing agent after a showing. For sellers, your agent needs to keep you apprised of what buyers’ agents are saying.
“If you’re selling your home, it’s nice to know if there is any interest — and if not, why,” says Gassett.
Signs of a strong communicator
They respond quickly to your calls, texts, or emails to set up an initial interview.
The agent should call you ahead of time to confirm your interview. During the interview, they should clearly explain how the real estate sales process works and answer all your questions.
A good communicator provides clear and correct paperwork. If you’re selling, the agent will draw up the contract. If you’re buying, they will write the offer letter.
Signs of a good real estate agent: The bottom line
Search for seasoned agents with a proven track record of success. Check their work history and reviews online.
Interview your shortlist of agent candidates or set up listing presentations to evaluate if they’re professional, prepared, and personable. Ask tough questions to gauge their level of knowledge and skill.
7 Warning Signs of a Bad Realtor. Look out for these red flags when you’re interviewing agents, from negative reviews to attitude problems.
The Best Questions to Ask a Realtor. We spoke to realtors, brokers, and other real estate professionals to discover the best questions to ask before committing to working with an agent.
How to Fire Your Realtor. Is your realtor not getting the job done for you? You may be able to terminate your contract without any penalties. Learn how.
What are some of the best qualities of a real estate agent?
A good real estate agent has the knowledge and experience to help you navigate the complex real estate process and achieve a successful home purchase or sale. Ideally, your agent should have at least two years of transactions under their belt and deep knowledge of the local market. You also want an agent who is honest, hard-working, and attentive to detail. It's important that your agent be friendly and personable as well as a great communicator. Learn how to find a realtor that has these crucial qualities.
How often should your realtor contact you?
Clear, timely communication is key in real estate. Your agent should be accessible by phone during business hours and promptly respond to your texts and emails within a reasonable time frame of 1–2 hours. Your realtor should also be proactive in contacting you at every step in the buying/selling process to inform you about what's next and what you need to do. Agents should give you advance notice if they're going to be out of office and/or unreachable for a period of time. It only takes one miscommunication or delayed email reply to derail a transaction, so make sure you don't hire an agent with poor communication skills.
What makes a good real estate agent for sellers?
A good real estate agent for sellers is one who has years of experience selling houses in your price range and deep knowledge of your local market, so they can price your home appropriately. Your listing agent should be able to identify your home's key selling points, evaluate whether a buyer's offer is fair, and negotiate with buyers on your behalf. Good listing agents draw on their knowledge of the market and your property to judge how much leverage you have as a seller.
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