How to Choose Your Next Real Estate Agent

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When a husband learns he has a metastasizing tumor, or a mom receives news that her toddler has a rare autoimmune disease, you would expect that choosing a specialist will involve more thought than deciding which entrée to order from a menu.

And rightfully so, because that decision will significantly affect both their future and that of their family, for better or for worse. Well, choosing a real estate agent is kind of like that. While people are irreplaceable and infinitely more valuable than homes, the reality is that your choice of a real estate professional still carries with it a certain gravity.

Given the obvious financial ramifications of buying or selling a home, as well as the notable impacts upon your quality of life, finding the right individual to guide you through the selection and closing processes is not a decision that you should take lightly. This is especially true if you are new to that market and lack real estate experience.

How do you pick a real estate agent?

When searching for the right agent or interviewing an agent, what questions should you ask? What should you look for? Here are five thoughts I recently shared with an out-of-state family member that should get you moving in the right direction:

  • Local knowledge. When trying to find the right home in the right location, it helps to work with a market expert. That doesn’t mean that the agent must be an area native, but it certainly helps. Ask them how long they’ve lived in the area. Find out about what areas and developments are popular. Find out how long homes are staying on the market. And if shopping, restaurants, schools, parks, or beaches are important to you, ask about those things. Don’t expect the agent to know it all, but they should at least know how to obtain that information for you. 
  • Real estate experience. Find out how long the agent has been in the industry and whether it's their full-time job. Ask them if they have experience in the general area or with the specific type of property you are looking for (e.g., new construction, 55+ communities, luxury market, condos, etc.). The bottom line is this: You don’t want an inexperienced agent any more than a patient would want an inexperienced surgeon. There’s a lot riding on this. However, experience by itself isn’t sufficient. Excellent experience is not the same thing as experience in excellence. There are plenty of experienced agents who coast and stop striving to improve the service they provide. Ask whether they have any special designations and certifications. These accolades are one way that real estate agents can continue to elevate and advance their industry knowledge and skills beyond the minimum continuing education requirements. 
  • Good reviews. Whether or not you know anyone in the area, be sure to do your own research as well. Personal referrals are great, but take time to look at Google and Facebook business pages, too. See what others have said about the agent. Real estate can involve unforeseeable and unavoidable challenges. But when those challenges arose, how did the agent respond? Were they a calming influence? Were they patient and flexible? Did they demonstrate strong negotiating skills? Were they diligent, dependable, and honest? People can lie and competitors can sabotage, so be sure to read the actual content and age of the reviews. One bad review among many positive reviews could simply be a sign of their humanity. Multiple could be a sign of their inexperience, negligence, or lack of integrity.
  • Professionalism. If living out of state, you would be wise to at least interview your agent over a Zoom call if you can’t meet in person. Face-to-face—even virtually—will provide you with a much better assessment opportunity. Do they come prepared? How does the agent present themselves? Appearance and attire are certainly part of this, but timeliness and follow through are just as important. If they say they are going to send you something after the meeting, do they? When you send them a message, how long does it take them to respond? What is their general attitude? Do they seem overly negative? Do they seem focused or distracted? Set your expectations for an agent high, but keep them fair and realistic.
  • Interpersonal skills. Patients value good bedside manner. Likewise, home buyers and sellers want to work with people who are generally agreeable and considerate. You don’t have to be best friends with your agent, but you also don’t want to knowingly choose one with a big ego or whose personality irritates you since you’ll be working closely and spending extended time with them. How’s their communication? Do they come across as overly aggressive, blunt, dramatic, or desperate? Do they set clear expectations? Do they ask good questions, and are they good listeners? Are they thoughtful and understanding? Are they good at explaining things and offering solutions? Are they attentive to your needs? Ask them to share about a recent or challenging negotiation they conducted. The last thing you want to do is choose an agent just because they are nice, but do keep in mind that the seller and the agent on the other side of the real estate transaction will have to work with this person as well.


As a Charleston native and an experienced agent, Josh is a trusted resource when it comes to buying or selling real estate in the greater Charleston area. He has experience with first-time home buyers, luxury home buyers, vacation and second-home buyers, seasoned sellers, individuals, families, retirees, new construction, those needing to coordinate listing their current home while also purchasing a new home, military and job relocation, and investors alike. His years of experience in the medical field taught him the importance of relationships and truly caring for people beyond the real estate transaction. It's shown him the necessity of listening well, anticipating client needs, and advocating for them. It's also helped instill in him a commitment to putting his client's needs above his own and a dedication to ensuring those needs are met. With the goal of providing luxury-level service to every client, he has partnered with the best industry professionals in the Charleston area, and he has earned numerous additional real estate certifications and designations, ensuring that his clients have the needed resources, knowledge, and expertise available to them throughout the process. When he's not helping his clients, he's either serving his church, reading, or enjoying much-needed time with his amazing wife and kids.

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