A good real estate agent: how to find, hire

Feb. 2, this Tuesday, is Groundhog Day. If the groundhog sees his shadow, it means six more weeks of winter. If you’re looking to get a head start on buying or selling a home, you’re likely hoping for an early spring.

Shadow or not, finding the right real estate professional can make the task less stressful. Your Better Business Bureau offers advice to select a reputable real estate professional.

You can choose a realtor, real estate agent or broker. All have received their licenses to legally perform real estate transactions. However, realtors follow the National Association of Realtors (NAR) Code of Ethics.

Over the last year, your BBB recorded almost 882,000 inquiries and almost 2,900 complaints across North America about realtors. More than 3,100 inquiries were filed locally against realtors with your BBB about this industry.

When searching for professional help to buy or sell your home, your BBB suggests these tips:

• Get recommendations from friends and family. If they’re pleased with who they’ve used, most likely you’ll be, too.

• Check with your BBB and research online.

• Ask for a list of previous clients. A reputable and trustworthy professional will have no problem providing this information.

• Make sure the real estate professional has a longstanding, solid reputation.

• Attend open houses to see if you connect with the professional.

• Ask about fees and/or commission. Some charge as much as much as 10 percent commission.

• Find out if the professional is a member of an industry association such as the National Association of Realtors or the Ohio Association of Realtors.

• Shop around. Select a customer-focused professional. A reputable professional is a consultant, as well as a sales person.

• Make sure the professional is properly licensed and/or certified. Verify the license and make sure it’s in good standing and not expired.

• Get everything in writing and carefully read the contract.

Remember, you’ll be spending a lot of time with the professional you select. So, be sure to maintain an honest and open relationship. Be upfront from the start about what you expect. Be sure to ask what his or her specialties are and if he or she is familiar with area where you plan to look for houses.

John North is president of the Dayton Better Business Bureau.

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