You don’t need to rely on word of mouth to find a good realtor while in the military. By blending word of mouth with your own research, you can find a realtor that’s completed many sales in your price range and target market. If you’re looking for a $200K home in north San Antonio, you don’t want an agent that primarily deals with mansions in the west.
Here’s how I found a good real estate agent before moving to Shaw AFB:
1. Build a list of real estate agents that work in your desired city
Ask your future coworkers who they recommend. Write those names down.
Now do your own homework. Look for homes online, and take note of realtors that represent homes you like. Look for real estate agents that represent sales in your price range and desired city.
Finally, add in some names from the top companies in the area. It does not hurt to expand your list, as the proof will come in the next step.
2. Interview those agents via email by asking for an activity list for the past 12 months
This step is key. Send each real estate agent an email telling them that you’re moving to the area and are considering purchasing a home. Ask for an activity list showing homes represented during the last year. You will likely get 1 of 3 responses:
- A handful of agents will reply back stating why you should choose them, but not send the list.
- A couple will completely ignore your questions: aka “Love to do business with you, when are you coming in?”
- A minority will send you a detailed list showing their activity, and tell you why you should choose them.
The third group is proud of their sales and can back up their reputation with stats. If they’ve represented many buyers/sellers in the area, with most of sales falling in your price range and desired neighborhoods, then you know you’ve found someone knowledgeable that can show you around and find the best deal. Move everybody in the first and second group off your list.
3. Call or email the agents in the third group
Keep in mind the following when you talk to them:
- Are they responsive to your questions? Do they actually listen to your questions?
- Are they friendly?
- Do they seem as knowledgeable as you initially thought?
You’ll soon get a feel for who you click with and who you don’t.
4. Rank order the agents based on all of your research
Factor in your coworker’s recommendations, sales statistics, and customer service to rank order the real estate agents.
The ideal agent will have completed many sales in your desired market. He/she will also be friendly and responsive.
5. Call and make an appointment with your top ranked agent
Make an appointment with the agent to ensure they are free when you come into town.
In the mean time, have them email you homes in your price range so you continue to get a feel for the market.
Since you’ve chosen a top notch agent, chances are they will not ask you to sign a contract that binds you to them for representation. If they do, be cautious and consider moving to another realtor on your list. You should retain the flexibility to move to another agent if things aren’t working out.
Good luck with your house hunting!