How to Pick a Real Estate Agent

Before investing or purchasing a new home, most people need to pick a real estate agent to help them on their home search.  To help you figure out how to get this first step complete we went to one of the experts. Ashley Wilson of Wilson Realty Group, was kind enough to answer our questions and give you tips on how to get started and find the best. In fact she gave us so much information we had to break this into two posts. Keep an eye out for the next one!


What is the difference between a REALTOR®, an agent and a broker?

Agent – To be an agent you must first obtain a real estate license in the state where you would like to work. Each state has different rules and regulations; therefore each state requires its own test before you can become a licensed agent in that state.  To find out more about the licensing laws in your state click here.

REALTORS® – All Realtors are agents, but not all agents are REALTORS. A Realtor® is a voluntary member of the National Association of Realtors®. They pay to be a member of the association and get special benefits, continuing education, networking etc. They are also held to a specific code of ethics when they sign up.

Broker – Generally, a broker has more education than an agent although that isn’t always the case. In North Carolina, all real estate agents are Brokers, however there are different levels of Broker status – varying from a newly licensed agent who is a provisional broker to a status of Broker in Charge, where they are able to run their own real estate firm and hold earnest monies. At Wilson Realty Group, we require all of our buyer agents to be full brokers (no provisional status), our listing and closing coordinators are licensed agents and we have a BIC on staff to ensure that we are always on top of the newest rules and regulations for our clients. So you can see it can get a little confusing and varies by state.


What is the best way to go about finding one?

Usually buyers and sellers trust friends for referrals of agents they know – I feel that it is critical you trust the person you work with, but that also you can have a business relationship with them, and sometimes that is challenging when you hire people you know.

Make sure you can respect and appreciate their professional opinion and don’t take it personally. The feeling should be mutual – you hire an agent to tell you honestly about the real estate market and in many cases these days the news isn’t positive. Make sure you feel confident that they have your best interests at heart, even if they tell you things that hurt your feelings.  An example, my mother’s neighbor wanted her home on the market and it hurt her feelings when I had to tell her to remove her collection of frogs from the kitchen. The truth is that some home buyers might find it offensive – it was what she needed to hear, not what she wanted to hear!


What types of things should you look for in an agent?

Real estate success via their track record of sales history is the best reflection of an agent’s ability to sell your home, or help you find a new one.

  • If they are a selling agent, what is their average price point sold and days on the market?
  • If they are a buyer’s agent, how many buyers do you work with at a time?
  • Testimonials from recent clients in the same area you are selling or buying in.
  • Punctuality – did they show up on time and if not, did they call to let you know they were running late?
  • Do they work full time?
    • There are so many part time agents out there. How can they focus on selling your home, or helping you buy one, when they are distracted by other things and not focused? If another buyer client called, wouldn’t you expect them to either answer the call, or call them back in a timely manner? If they were working another job, could they juggle this effectively??


What questions should you ask?

  • How many sales transactions did you have last year? Last month?
  • What is your average list to sales price ratio?
  • What are your average days on market for a listed property?
  • Who are some professional references I can call- clients you have worked with?
  • Do you work primarily as a buyer agent, seller agent or both?
  • Do you work by yourself or do you have assistance?
  • Would I always hear from you directly or would there be a time when someone would contact me on your behalf?
  • What turnaround time can I expect when calling or emailing you?
  • What availability do you have to show me the homes that I request?
  • What do you feel that you do that sets you apart from the rest of the agents?

This blog post was created by Ashley Wilson of Wilson Realty Group – Real Estate for Real Life.

Find us on facebook or for real estate in Raleigh, Wake Forest, Cary, North Carolina at   or for real estate in Charlotte, Fort Mill South Carolina at


One Comment

  1. Michael J. Gallo
    Posted Aug 28 at 6:50 pm |

    Excellent Post. These are key questions to ask when interviewing Realtors(R) for the position of your home sales agent. I have been on many listing consultations and if I am not asked these questions by the homeowner I will almost always offer the information.

    Ask to read those testimonials!!

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