Mid-Missouri has a strong real estate market, and some would say this is a good time to consider buying commercial or residential property. As our population continues to grow, we can see the nearly constant addition of real estate. There are plenty of opportunities to buy and sell and plenty of real estate professionals who want to help with the process.

Whether you are buying or selling property, the real estate representative you choose makes a big difference. It’s a major decision, and you want to hire someone who is familiar with the market and the process. When hiring a real estate agent, it’s imperative to find someone who has your best interests in mind. Here are some tips for hiring that person.

 

Check BBB’s online business directory at BBB.org.

BBB’s business directory can provide the names of real estate companies with information about them, including their BBB accreditation and their rating (from A+ to F). If BBB has received complaints about the company, those complaints will be provided there as well, along with information about how they were resolved.

 

Ask for referrals.

Ask friends, family members, and business associates who have recently bought or sold property for recommendations. Ask if they were satisfied with their experience and if they would use the agent or company in the future. You may wish to consider companies in the area so they’ll be knowledgeable about the neighborhoods and the community. Whether you are buying or selling, look for an agent who can act in your best interest for the sale.

 

Ask if they are a licensed agent.

A real estate agent is required to take real estate courses and pass a licensing exam before practicing.

 

Interview candidates.

Once you’ve assembled at least three prospective agents, schedule a time to meet with each in person. Each agent should provide their background, marketing plan, and market analysis, which should include information about similar properties 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, whether they have an active state license, and whether they work full- or part-time. For houses, be sure to ask if the agent or company is a member of a multiple listing service, or MLS, an online registry of properties on the market from all over the country.

 

Request references.

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

 

Discuss compensation.

Usually agents are compensated through commission. The commission fee is usually 5 to 7 percent of the selling price, but it can vary from area to area, and the percentage of the commission fee can sometimes be negotiated depending on the local market. The agent receives commission regardless of who finds the buyer but receives no commission if the property does not sell. The commission is usually divided between the agent and their broker.

 

Carefully read the contract.

Last on the list, but certainly not least: 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 a property, you may sign a contract granting the agent exclusive rights to sell it within a specific period of time. Make sure you understand the length of that period of time. Also request that any known defects in the property be disclosed.
Sean Spence is the regional director of Better Business Bureau Columbia. 

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