finding agents online

How to search for agents online

How to search for agents online Photo Credit: Christina @ wocintechat.com


While the best way to start searching for an agent is to ask friends and family for recommendations, that might not be an option for you when moving to a new area.  Even if you do have friends and family to ask, you will most likely collect a lot of names. 

So whether you are starting from scratch or vetting the names you received, here are four steps to help you find a good agent.  



Step 1:

Start here if low listing commissions or rebates are important to you
You have a lot of options when it comes to low and flat listing commissions and rebates.   We are sure you have heard of Redfin, but there are also some other great companies that offer this service in different parts of the US.  Rex, Homie, Doss, Houwzer.  The key to using this service is to find a low-cost listing service that has agents on staff, not "partner agents." A good example of partner agents would be Clever.  Clever does not have actual agents on staff, but instead refer you to agents that agree to pay them a referral fee when you close with the referred agent.

If you don't have a low fee listing brokerage in your area, no worries!   There are traditional agents out there that do offer below average listing commissions and rebates.  There are two places that we love to search for these types of agents.  
CAARE is a nonprofit that not only educates consumers about buying and selling, but also connects you with agents that negotiate commissions and rebates.  This organization is lead by one of the best real estate attorneys and consumer rights advocates in the US
 
Home Openly
Home Openly is a for-profit business that is run by fierce consumer rights and anti-trust advocates.  Home Openly lets you search for agents in your area (traditional and non-traditional) that offer low commissions and rebates.  They have a solid privacy policy and do not sell your information to the industry.

Start here for steps to find a traditional agent.
You need to know that the platforms that offer to find you “the best agent” are full of it.  They only refer you to agents that agree to pay for your information.  This price could be up to 30% of your agent's commission earned from your sale or purchase.  The really good agents, with years of experience, are typically not found on these platforms.  They also do not spend a lot on advertising and can be hard to find.   So, here is what we do to find the good ones!
Search for agents by the city you are looking to sell/buy.  When you click on individual agents, you can scroll down to see where they have helped clients sell or buy.  An agent that has bought or sold in your area multiple times is more likely to be well connected, understand the neighborhoods, the local market, the schools, etc.  Almost all profiles list the agent's years of experience (found towards the bottom).   We suggest going with someone that has at least four years of experience.   Write down the names who might be a fit for you, and move on to step 2.

Selling Later Tip: To protect your privacy and avoid sales calls from related businesses, do NOT contact agents through realtor.com.


Step 2:  Search for multiple reviews.


Unfortunately, you can’t trust just one review platform as some offer a way to manipulate or remove negative reviews.  There are many places to find reviews, such as google, yelp, and social survey.  When reading reviews, look for ones from the past six months.   Take special note if they talk about timeliness, communications, etc.  Once you finish your search (after step 4) and select your top three agents, you can also ask them for a client reference from within the past three months.  

 

Step 3. Search for peer reviews


Here is one thing we didn’t know as a consumer;  4+ years of experience does not always mean that your agent knows what they are doing.  Surprisingly, some agents out there are not putting their best foot forward, but have been able to stay in business all these.  How your agent works with other agents can make a big impact on your experience and potentially your offer.  To check for peer reviews, we like to see if the agent is a “reputable agent.”  

Peer Reputation
A Reputable Agent badge is something that Peer Reputation awards to only a handful of agents.  This badge is based on sales, peer reviews and commentary, years in the business, and more.   The founder of Peer Reputation originally created a company similar to us but pivoted to Peer Reputation when he realized how many harmful agents are mixed in with the handful of good ones.  His mission is to help you find those who know what they are doing, do it well, and work for the best interest of their client.

Selling Later Tip
: The Peer Reputation badge can not be gimmicked, and there is no workaround to earn it.  While not all 1 million be found on Peer Reputation, if your agent has a Reputable Badge, then you are on the right track!

 

Step 4:  Check out their social media pages


Searching social media pages offer you a way to search for agents, without them knowing that you are looking.   But you can't believe everything that you see and read.
 
Things to look past when searching social:

Lavish personal photos
Just like influencing, these agents want you to believe a certain image about themselves.  Do not be fooled by photos that show extravagant wealth or expensive items.  While photos like that allude to success, it does not necessarily mean the person is a successful agent.

Posting listings every day does not mean they have a lot of clients.
Some agents share other agents listing as a way to get in front of buyers and get connected.  It does not mean these home sellers are all their clients. 

Offers to “see what your home is worth” is made to collect your information.
Agents use this as a way to pull sellers out of the shadows and collect their information.  Any agent that you select will be able to give you their opinion of what your home is worth.  

Content is king in the social ad world
Agents are encouraged to post often, so a lot of companies offer a service to post content for them.  This content is just recycled material that usually follows the phrases of “5 tips to get your home ready to sell” or “5 top colors in 2021.”   You can tell by looking at where the article came from (we've noticed a lot of canned articles come from rismedia.com).  
 
Positive things to look for when searching social profiles

Is the agent sharing stories and commentary about the area?
A good agent is a good community member.  Look to see if they post about their area.  Do they support local businesses on their feed, are they involved in community organizations and nonprofits in the area?

Let's go back to the content.  Is the agent curating their own content?
We get why some agents have someone else write for them as social media is time-consuming.  Knowing this, if you find an agent that writes their own articles, has a personal blog linked to their site or adds real commentary to shared articles, this shows that they want to take the time to educate you about what they feel is important. 

A way to contact them 
Here is the one positive thing to social, it creates an easy way for you to connect and ask questions with that agent, without having to give up a lot of your information, or having multiple companies profit from your info.
    
        
Yes, this looks like a time-consuming process.   But when you are talking about your hard earned equity or the biggest purchase of your life, you don't want to pick the wrong person.   There are hundreds of referral platforms out promoting the "best agents" only because those agents paid to participate.   Using our process helps you navigate away from these sites and helps you find an actual good agent.   

It is also the same process we use when we are searching for real estate experts for our "Ask an Expert" panels in new cities.