BBB on Homes: It’s best to hire a Realtor when buying, selling home

Whether you are buying or selling property, a real estate agent or Realtor can assist in either side of the sale. Buying and selling a home is a major decision and it is beneficial to hire someone who is familiar with the housing market and the process. When hiring a Realtor, it is imperative to find someone who has your best interest in mind. The Better Business Bureau of Greater Houston and South Texas offers the following tips as a guide when hiring a real estate agent or Realtor.

Do your research. In Texas, real estate agents and brokers must be licensed with the Texas Real Estate Commission, and you can verify licensing at trec.texas.gov. Also, check if the business has any complaints or customer reviews filed with the BBB by visiting BBBHouston.org.

Ask for referrals. Ask friends and family members who have recently bought or sold their home for recommendations. Ask if they were satisfied with their experience and if they would use the agent or company in the future. Look for residential agents and companies in the area so they will be knowledgeable about the neighborhood and the community.

Interview candidates. Once you have assembled at least four prospective agents, schedule a time to meet with them in person. If you are selling your home, each agent will likely make a listing presentation. This presentation allows you to become familiar with their background, marketing plan, and market analysis, which includes information about similar houses in your area that have recently sold. Make sure to find out how long the agent has been practicing, how long they have been with their company, and if they work full or part time. Be sure to ask if the agent or company is a member of the Multiple Listing Service (MLS). MLS is an online registry of properties on the market from all over the country.

Request references. Ask the agent to provide a list of references who have previously used their services to buy or sell similar types of properties. Ask the references about their experience with the agent or Realtor. This will give you an idea if the agent or company suits your needs.

Discuss compensation. Usually agents and realtors are compensated through commission. The commission fee can vary from area to area. The percentage of the commission fee can sometimes be negotiated depending on the housing market. The agent receives commission regardless of who finds the buyer, but receives no commission if the property doesn’t sell.

Carefully read the contract. Be wary of agents who pressure you to sign documents immediately. Carefully and completely read the documents and make sure the agent clearly answers any of your questions. If you are selling your home, usually you sign a contract granting the agent exclusive rights to sell your property within a period of time. Make sure to ask about the length of that period of time.

The Better Business Bureau is an unbiased nonprofit organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. Visit www.bbbhouston.org or call 713-868-9500. Leah Napoliello is senior director of Investigative Services with the BBB of Greater Houston and South Texas. Send questions to Leah Napoliello, Better Business Bureau, 1333 West Loop South, Suite 1200, Houston, TX 77027, or e-mail lnapoliello@bbbhou.org. Include your mailing address and phone number.

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