Six Tips for Investors to Find the Right Real Estate Agent

Not all real estate agents are created equal. Anyone who has spent their day with a real estate agent going from one underwhelming property to the next already knows this. While an agent might be perfect for finding the right forever home for a family, that’s a totally different skill set than being able to identify properties with investment potential. You want someone who understands your niche as a real estate investor, as opposed to someone who’s pushing properties on you that aren’t going to cashflow. So now that we understand what we don’t want, here are six ways you can find the real estate agent who’s right for you. Just remember to be patient when you’re seeking an agent who specializes in real estate investing. They’re a bit harder to find than general residential agents, and are highly sought after in this booming market.

Word of Mouth

It’s pretty hard to beat the value of a word-of-mouth recommendation. Ask all of your friends and contacts who are real estate investors if they have any real estate agents they can recommend. When someone gives you a name, be sure to ask if this is someone they have personally worked with. Too often, people like to be helpful by giving you a name, even if it’s someone they’ve never worked with. Just because they have that person’s information doesn’t make it a good recommendation. They could be recommending someone who’s amazing or wildly incompetent. You just don’t know. Whenever I seek referrals for any type of professional, I always ask if they’ve worked together.

Real Estate Investing Clubs

If you’re not already part of a real estate investing club in your area, I would highly recommend joining one. If there isn’t one in your area, see if there are any online organizations or real estate-focused meetup groups you could join. Not only will this put you in contact with your peers and potential mentors, it will expose you to a wealth of contacts. There could be an agent in your group who specializes in investing. If there isn’t, you could certainly get a referral through your fellow members.

Discuss Your Goals

Before you’ve officially started working together, have a conversation about your goals with the agent. This can also serve as a way of testing their knowledge. If you’re interested in short sales, for example, let them know and ask them some questions about their experience in that area. If you want the option of turning your property into an Airbnb, ask them what neighborhoods have HOAs that don’t allow them.

Prompt Responses

Real estate agents are extremely busy right now. Having said that, you still need someone who will be responsive to your needs. Make sure that this is someone who will respond to your calls or emails within 24 hours, or whatever time frame you need, although I wouldn’t give them too big of a window to get back to you. If they’re too overextended to return your first call in a timely fashion, consider that a preview of what working with this agent would be like and keep looking.

Investor Knowledge

You specifically want a real estate agent who understands the objectives of investing.  Whereas traditional home buyers are more likely to want something turnkey, when you’re investing, you’re looking for properties where you can make improvements and monetize those improvements. Some questions you should ask to gage their level of knowledge are:

  • Do they invest in real estate or have they in the past?
  • Have they worked with real estate investors before?
  • What types of properties do they typically deal with?
  • Are they full-time or part-time agents? (This will gage their availability.)

Knowing the Area

Any real estate agent can boast that “I know this city like the back of my hand.” But in larger cities especially, it’s not just about knowing the city as a whole that’s important, but being able to identify the pros and cons of different submarkets. Are they familiar with off-the-beaten-path, up-and-coming neighborhoods? Or do they just know the commonly sought-after markets? Real estate investing is all about maximizing your investment, and it’s easier to do that in a neighborhood that may be getting overlooked. When you’re deciding whether to work with an agent, ask them if there are any neighborhoods that they won’t show you. Since you’re trying to buy properties with room for monetization, you’ll want someone who will be willing to help you find deals anywhere.

So those are the strategies I would implement if you’re looking for an investment-savvy real estate agent. Once you’ve chosen an agent, don’t just wait for them to land the perfect property. Yes, you’re enlisting them to help you, but in our current market, two sets of eyes are better than one. Also, don’t be afraid to look into properties that haven’t come on the market yet. If you’re driving around and see a property that looks distressed, talk to your agent about making an offer. The worst thing that can happen is the homeowner will say no. Until next time, Ken


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