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Tips on Picking a Real Estate Agent: Making a Short List!

Updated on January 28, 2018
agvulpes profile image

Peter has never worked in Real Estate however has been involved in buying and selling properties for over 50 years.

Selecting a Real Estate Agent

This is stage two in our quest of selecting the best Real Estate Agent to sell your house.

As I have previously stated I have no professional qualifications in the Real Estate Industry and these steps are not from any other sources other than those learned from my own experiences over the years of buying and selling Real Estate, both Houses and Properties.

I would be delighted to hear, via the comment boxes underneath this article, from anyone who has anything constructive to add to the discussion. Any tips, large or small that can help our readers to obtain the best result in selling their precious property would be gratefully accepted!

Now that you have decided to sell you house and you have done all of the preliminaries prior to selecting your selling Agent here are the Rules of Engagement that you might like to consider.

Firstly though, if you have not done the prelim's you might like to go over and read the Pre-selection system that I have used. They have been listed on my Hub called:

Tips on selling your house - property. Preliminaries !


Sold successfully
Sold successfully

Don't Select - Eliminate

The ultimate aim is to end up with who you regard to be the best Real Estate Agent to sell YOUR house. Some Agents have an ability for selling in niche markets such as 'acreage', apartments, land etc. So the idea is to narrow down the field to pick the right Agent to sell your home.

What the intention here is to eleminate agents so that we finish up with a short list of Three, then we interview that three and decide on the final and hopefully best Real Estate Agent.

This is how we go about making the selection!

Make a list of Local Agents

The first thing we need to do is make a list of all the Real Estate Agents in your local Area.

In Australia we do have Real Estate Offices operating on a national basis with local Offices working on a Franchise system similar to McDonald's, and also One office Real Estate Agents with just one man and a receptionist. (This is becoming a rarity these days).

I have drawn up a list below to give you some ideas on what to include. Add and remove Headings to what you think works for you.

As you are going along give each Box a rating, say out of 10 (I have put example in brackets) and carry the scores over to the Scores column.

List of Local Real Estate Agents

Real Estate Agents Name
National Office
Member of Association
WOM - Personal Reference
How many sales persons
Internet Presence
Position on list
Sleazy Sams Real Estate
No (2)
No (0)
yes but not friendly (4)
No (0)
5 (5)
No (0)
My Best Real Estate Office
Yes- In all states (10)
Yes (10)
Three / and all very friendly (9)
No (0)
12 (10)
Yes 6 sites in all (9)
I Saw You Coming Real Estate
Yes - all but one (7)
No (0)
Yes only just friendly (6)
No (0)
3 (4)
Yes - local only (5)
My Third Best Real Estate Agent
Yes (Well nearly) (7)
Yes (10)
OK friendly (5)
Yes (Friend from Club) (Sus) (2)
3 (4)
Yes- 3 only not on main one(6)
I m the Best Realtor
State wide only (5)
Yes (10)
Just Ok (5)
Yes (Sold Aunty Flo's house) (3)
5 (5)
Yes main only (4)
Dodgey Brothers Real Estate
No (5)
No (0)
Friendly in a forced manner (5)
No (0)
2 (3)
Yes but poor (3)
My Second Best Realtor
Yes - all but one (8)
Yes (10)
Very polite and courteous (6)
Yes ( We bought from him)(4)
3 (6)
Yes 4 sites (8)
Bill Ding Real Estate
No (3)
No (0)
Different on each call (4)
No (0)
2 (4)
No (0)

Make up a list similar to this using your own headings and to help you remember make notes to yourself as you go along!

Golden Rules in Selection

I have a number of Golden Rules that I have used in many of my business dealings over the years. Here they are with a brief explanation:

  • Never use a Company that is not a member of the relevant National or State Association. This safeguards you against shoddy business practices . Although it does not eliminate them altogether there is an 'indication' or impression that a particular company does want to do the 'right thing'!. It would also be a wise move to make sure that the Association carries a form of Insurance against things going wrong!
  • Here's one from left field. 'The Company Receptionist'! As the saying goes something like ' the eyes are the windows to the soul'. Well it is my belief the 'The Receptionist' is 'the window to the company soul'.
    Over my many years in Business dealing with other Businesses I have found that the Receptionist doe's reflect the morale and integrity of the company she is working for. Before you make your decision evaluate the Receptionist/s attitude to customers and if possible call her by name and establish a 'rapport' early.
    It will be invaluable later on when you just may need to get in contact with your agent quickly.
    You should also remember that any Vendors will also have to communicate with the Receptionist and you want that to be a good impression.

Short Listing

As you may see by using this method we have removed a lot of the Emotion out of making a selection and we are able to commence to make a reasoned decision based on the information that we have gathered on our list. And up to this point you should not have had a serious discussion with a Real Estate Agent. ( If they do come the heavy just say you are only shopping around and if they start to 'harass' you just 'CROSS THEM OFF THE LIST'

The next step is to make a 'short list' from your long list of all possible Real Estate Offices.

That should be relatively easy just run down the list and pick the top scorers. For this step you will need at least Three.    I would suggest no more than Four!

Short list

Cross off the lowest scores until you are left with three then you have a Short list of Real estate Agents
Cross off the lowest scores until you are left with three then you have a Short list of Real estate Agents

The Short List

As you can see from the list that I have mocked up, there are three Agents that fill the top three places and those three Real Estate Agents constitute our Short List. By the way this list is very close to the actual list that I used in selecting the Real Estate Agent who is handling the sale of our property. Only the names have been changed to protect the innocent!

If you find that you have a 'tie' for third place, go back over your point score on the long list and see if you have been fair with the way that the scores were taken for the tied Agents. 

If you still can't separate them, don't sweat it just  call it a tie and put four Agents on your list.  The next stage will sort that out very easily!

We can now move on to stage three to select the Best Agent to sell Our House or Property

© 2011 Peter


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    • agvulpes profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Australia

      FRE thanks for dropping by and taking the time to leave a comment on picking a real estate agent :-)

      Friendliness AND efficiency is the main attribute that I would want of my receptionist. I have used it to my advantage in many of my dealings over the years, both in Real Estate and the Automotive industry.

      Thanks again for the great comment :-)

    • FriscoRealEstate profile image


      9 years ago from Summit County (Frisco) Colorado

      What a well thought-out, thorough article. I hadn't considering recommending that our potential clients consider small details such as the friendliness of the office receptionist -- but you're exactly right, small details can add up and make big differences.

      Thank you so much for sharing this great content with all of us.

    • agvulpes profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from Australia

      ASB thanks for taking the time to read my hub on tips on picking a real estate agent!

      After over 50 years coming through the front doors of businesses (of any description) the one rule that has proven time and again to be correct is that the Receptionist is the "window to the company soul"

      Thanks again for your kind words:-)

    • AllSuretyBonds profile image


      10 years ago

      Great Hub. I really like your point on how the receptionist reflects the overall business. Very true!

    • agvulpes profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from Australia

      Thanks so much for the kind words. I hope I have been of some assistance in this tough field of picking a real estate agent:-)

    • ImChemist profile image


      10 years ago

      Very informative hub , thanks for sharing it . rated and voted.

    • agvulpes profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from Australia

      crystolite, thanks for your kind comment, I'm glad you enjoyed my article on picking a real estate agent:-)

    • crystolite profile image


      10 years ago from Houston TX

      Great work,thanks for sharing.

    • agvulpes profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from Australia

      @queenbe thanks for taking the time out to read my tips on picking a real estate agent and leaving a contribution to the discussion.

      In my state the only 'hands out' that the agent handles is the 'advertising' which is negotiated in a separate package. Here the Real Estate Agent collects their payment as soon as the 'deposit' is released. By their own figures on average 60 days from date of Contract.

      I don't believe in the theory that a job is 'hard' or 'easy' the are doing a job that they are trained to do. Their job is no more involved than, lets say an electrician or a motor mechanic. I do believe in a fair days pay for a fair days work, I do not have a problem with that at all!

      I also never rule out employing someone because they are 'new' in fact our last agent was just completing his qualifications when we 'contracted' the company where he is working. I think new Real Estate Agents working with a large reputable office is a pretty good mix. Here in my state a person can work at a Real Estate Office while they are obtaining their qualifications.

      I would say that if you like a Realtor right off the bat you use that as a yardstick for any future interviews.

      As far as Receptionist it is certainly one of my 'Golden Rules' I'm glad that you agree:-)

      I never forget that people are human and that we all have 'off days'. I believe that I treat people the way I like to be treated, with politeness and understanding.

      Thanks again for dropping by I do appreciate your input to the discussion.

      cheers agvulpes :-)

    • agvulpes profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from Australia

      @Granny's House, thanks for dropping by and leaving a great comment, I appear to have hit a raw nerve here, do you have a vested interest in the Real Estate Industry?

      Lets go through your points one by one:

      "An agent does a lot more than show houses!" We should hope so! An agent has to, with your authority, attract buyers to your property, convince one of these buyers to buy your house, obtain the deposit which is placed in a trust fund, get all of the relevant contracts signed, hand over to the Conveyancer to complete the transaction, place a 'SOLD' sign out the front and drop in the Hamper. Sounds easy to me?

      "Agents do not get paid until a property is sold!" Every Real Estate Agent I have spoken to claim an average time of selling a house as less than 30 days. They also take their payment out of the Deposit when it is released. In my state the deposit can be released in 28 days which means that the Real Estate Office gets paid on average in 60 days? That is pretty normal for any business that runs accounts.

      "I do not know why people think agents make a huge commission". Personally I think that 6%commission is bordering on 'obscene'. I don't know how it works in your country but here the maximum % rate would not go over 3% and I would not pay more that 2% plus advertising package of my choice. To my knowledge the commission here is generally cut three ways. The Listing Agent, The Selling Agent and the Real Estate Office. Conveyancing fees are paid to a separate Company.

      btw All I am doing it giving tips on picking a real estate agent !

      Thanks again for your great contribution to the discussion. cheers agvulpes

    • agvulpes profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from Australia

      @dallas93444, thanks for dropping in and leaving a great tip, it will certainly be included in my final selection criteria on my Final Selection Hub.

      However one of the problems with that is proving the accuracy of the Real Estate Agents statements. I have seen so many numbers fudged :-)

      cheers and thanks for the flag up - agvulpes

    • agvulpes profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from Australia

      @gr82bme, thanks for posting your perspective here on my Hub 'Tips on picking a Real Estate Agent' You seem to have taken this Hub from the wrong viewpoint. I'm giving advise on picking an agent to SELL a house!

      However to reply to your comment: Yes I have heard of that 'saying' and that would be precisely why I'm offering these tips to find an agent to sell a house. To weed out the genuine buyers you need the 'best' Real Estate agent, would you not agree?

      I agree that getting pre-qualified is a great idea, we are actually off to do that today.

      Since the GFC, here in Australia, lending agencies have tightened right up in the pre-requisites for a Home loan and having a steady income is one of the areas.

      I don't entirely agree with your last statement! I do agree that at times the buyer/seller is not completely honest with the agent, but it is how the agent overcomes that problem that sorts out the 'good' Real Estate Agent from the 'not so good' agent.

      That gets me back to the point that if you are selling your house you need to find the best Real Estate Agent for your circumstances and you are very fortunate indeed if you can do that by just using a 'dart board' system!

      Thanks so much for adding to the discussion, I enjoy hearing other people opinions.

      Cheers... agvulpes :-)

    • queenbe profile image


      10 years ago from NY

      This hub posted on my facebook page and I clicked on to read it.Realtors only receive a %of on a sale as one reader commented. There are a lot of 'hands out' to collect. They are the last one paid. It can take months to be paid for a sale. It is a very involved job. They earn their money. Track records was a good idea but you may be selling yourself short as 'new' agents who have just come out of school (that they pay for on their own) and passed the school and state tests should not be left out of the equation. They are very eager to get going. In my opinion when you come across a realtor you like right off the bat you are on the track you need to be on. YES a receptionist is an awesome clue to a company and I agree wholeheartedly with what you said. Just remember they are human and have their moments too. Listen for the smile in the voice. It should be there.

    • agvulpes profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from Australia

      @marshacanada, thanks for dropping by, that is also a good strategy when picking a real estate agent however it is hard to sort out the truth from fiction sometimes. Picking a real estate agent is not for the faint of heart :-)

      I believe that the Internet has become one of the most important tools for selling/buying houses, our last three transactions have instigated via the internet and if you see my guide to getting a short list it rates highly.

      We may operate under a different system here in our state but I would never recommend to the general public to handle their own sale, for me the risks involved are just too large.

      In the estate we are moving from (with large lot sizes) the developers are moving in and trying to buy the acreage up at bargain prices, this is one of the reasons that I am writing this series on how to go about selecting a real estate agent.

      Thanks so much for adding to the discussion :-)

    • Granny's House profile image

      Granny's House 

      10 years ago from Older and Hopefully Wiser Time

      An agent does a lot more then show houses. Also they do not get paid until a property is sold. Then they do not get paid until it closes. So they can be working on a property for months before getting paid. I do not know why people think agents make a huge commission. Most is 6% of the sale and they get a % of that after the brokers cut, office cut.If it is a co broke, then the commission is split with the listing agency

    • dallas93444 profile image

      Dallas W Thompson 

      10 years ago from Bakersfield, CA

      Perhaps examine the agent's track record in terms of how many transactions completed and their ranking in terms of top seller and etc...

      Flag up!

    • gr82bme profile image


      10 years ago from USA

      Did you ever hear the saying buyers are liars? You need to be up front and honest with your agent also if you want them to be able to find you what YOU are looking for.

      Get pre- qualified first. You need a job to get a mortgage. No, unemployment check does not count. many times an agent gets a bad rap because the buyer or seller was not honest with them, so they do not get what they want and now the agent was a bad one

    • marshacanada profile image


      10 years ago from Vancouver BC

      A good article since the agent gets a big commission they should be good. I have looked for agents who charge a reduced commission and have got good results.

      In Vancouver where the real estate market is hot buyers can access the internet listings themselves. Also many houses are sold for just the lot value-which could be over two million dollars in desireable areas. Therefore a real estate agent is not so necessary. Several people I know sold their properties themselves.

    • agvulpes profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from Australia

      earnestshub I appreciate your kind words. I feel that the 'Getting to know' the Receptionist actually worked in my favor today. I had a very tricky negotiation and I had to get in touch with her boss quickly and she gave me his personal cell phone number (He was playing golf lol). Problem solved!

      Dealing with Real Estate Agents is something that I find very frustrating.

      Thanks again for your votes of confidence it is much appreciated!

    • earnestshub profile image


      10 years ago from Melbourne Australia

      Invaluable tips on Real Estate Agents and selecting the right one ag.

      Your tip about the receptionist reflecting the business was very insightful in my view.

      Anyone selling their home should read this and your previous hub. Well done indeed!Voted UP and awesome!


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