Finding A Real Estate Agent

by Marty Morua, NYC Realtor at The Corcoran Group 

NYC Real Estate Agent

There are regrettably some industries that tend to have bad names, and it's generally a small percentage of individuals that give a bad name to the masses. Movies and newspaper headlines have also created a poor image of some people in professions such as lawyers, car salespeople, stock brokers and real estate agents.

There are by far more wonderful professionals than bad ones in the industries I mentioned, but where can you find them? Recommendations maybe? Yup….Word of mouth is probably at the very top of the list. Your friends, family, neighbors and even the baristas selling you coffee at Starbucks that you've gotten friendly with are people you trust who can help you in your search.

So what about Real Estate brokers and agents? There are so many; but where do you start to find one? Besides the trusted word of mouth, is there anything else you can do? What other due diligence can you do in hopes of finding a solid real estate agent?

One of the most important choices an apartment renter, home seller or home buyer can make is finding that right real estate agent. Many take it for granted and guess what…. even referrals don't always work out. Some things to consider are:


  • Commissions
  • Communication
  • Past customers
  • Interviewing process
  • Social Media
  • Marketing



Sure, commissions are negotiable, but don't simply chose the cheapest brokerage firm because they're the cheapest. There are many gimmicks like no-fee or “we buy all cash”, but sometimes there is a catch to reel you in. When a real estate agent helps someone find an apartment, there is always a fee (commission) paid. No fees generally might mean the landlord pays the agents fee or the fee might be built into the rent (meaning a higher monthly rent). Some real estate firms advertise "We buy all Cash", but don't expect to get fair market value for your home. They will not pay you what your home's true value is and give you a lowball offer. If you want the most dollars for home you don't want to get talked into one of these offers. I love buying things on sale (who doesn't) but when it comes to finding a great apartment rental, buying or selling your home, is cheaper always better? You don't want a discounted commission and then end up with discounted services. Some real estate firms offer super low commissions, but will that include:


  • Are they Advertising and Marketing your property for sale in all local newspapers on your behalf?
  • Do they have a highly rated/searchable website that gets lots of traffic?
  • Do they use Social Media to promote your home (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or SnapChat,)?
  • Do they do direct mailings to all your surrounding neighbors when selling your home?
  • Are they fully committed and available to show your home for sale at any moment?
  • Do they give a complete market analysis and comparable report to best price your home?
  • Do they consult or offer staging recommendations to get the most money for your home?
  • Are they full time professionals or part-time agents?



How To Find the best Realtor

I've met countless other agents while helping my clients find apartments for rent. Since most real estate firms operate on a shared listing system, co-broke real estate partnerships are a normal part of the rental process. As an agent, I expect the other brokerage firm's agents to be as responsive as possible (with me) in order to help get their listings rented (and more importantly, help the client find a new home/apartment to rent). Regrettably this is not the case, and not all agents are easily accessible. When working with a real estate agent, make sure they are committed to responding to you within a reasonable time frame. Besides using phone calls as communication, ask if they are open to communicating via text, email, Skype, Apple's FaceTime, WhatsApp, (DM) Direct Messaging via Twitter, Facebook's messenger app, et cetera. When you're searching for an apartment to rent, how creative will the real estate agent be in terms of communicating with you? This is true of not only communicating with you, but with others on your behalf too. Will your real estate agent have timely communications with the landlords of apartments you're interested in renting, the building management firms or other agents in order to help you find your future apartment? Please don't worry about hurting their feelings, or thinking it's an awkward question, and just ask them. Pay attention to their reaction and how they respond.



Social media Presence


Some of the best real estate agents do not have an online presence. That's common in smaller mom and pop firms, but in today's world many real estate firms do have some or a great deal of online presence. Beyond a website, there are several important Social Media pages you should investigate before choosing an agent. Any agent can post their listings, and that's a very important part of showcasing what apartments they have for rent or sale, but look beyond that. Do they share information? Do they share tips for renters, sellers or buyers? Do they give free advice without asking for anything in return? Do they give tips and advice on moving with pets, or how to find a trustworthy moving company like Oz Moving, or how to negotiate lease terms? Do they post helpful Blogs on a regular basis? Check what social media pages they have and what they are posting. Do they have a Twitter or Facebook page but never post anything? Don't just look at the number of listings they have on their websites. Look at their profiles on these sites to get a better idea:


  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn                                         
  • Google+
  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Pinterest



Whether you're selling a house, condo or coop apartment, or looking to rent or buy one, it's a good idea to try and speak with your agent’s past clients. Sure, many real estate brokerage firm websites have prior client testimonials…..but are they for real? Getting personal recommendations from a trusted friend or family member, who's used a particular real estate agent is probably one of the best ways of speaking to a past customer……but what if you don't have that luxury? Yelp is one great way to see what others have experienced. Type in the name of the real estate brokerage firm on Yelp and see what pops up. You can also  check the agent’s LinkedIn page and see if anyone has written a recommendation for them. Ask the prospective agent if they have a list of previous clients who are willing to speak with you. If they give you a list you can randomly call a few past clients and ask questions such as:


  • What was the worst part working with your real estate agent?
  • Did they communicate on a regular basis and through what means?
  • Were there any delays on their end?
  • Was the fee/commission they charged worth it?
  • Would you use them again?

Don't be shy or embarrassed to ask a prospective real estate agent questions. You ARE interviewing them and they WANT your business. Even if a friend recommended them, please also use your gut instincts. Make sure you really feel good, not rushed or fast talked, and that you are genuinely feeling comfortable with the agent you're speaking with. I'm no psychologist, but that gut instinct you've experienced in your life is real and not your imagination. Go with it.







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