How To Pick The Right Real Estate Agent

How To Pick The Right Real Estate Agent

Buying and selling a home is one of the most important decisions an individual can make in their lifetime. As such, you will want to do plenty of research and groundwork to ensure that you get the best home and the best price for you. However, finding the right price for property can be difficult. This is why hiring a real estate agent can help you make smart decisions and avoid costly mistakes.

However, not just any real estate agent will do. Choosing the right agent can be the difference between buying your dream home or landing in a nightmare.

What do estate agents do?

Real estate agents help people buy and sell homes. It is these agents’ responsibility to educate their clients about current market conditions, guide them through each step of the process and make referrals to other professionals, such as home stagers and real estate attorneys. 

For the most part, real estate agents can also represent buyers or sellers. Their particular titles in a transaction generally depends on who they are representing during a sale.

A buyer’s agent helps buyers find and shop for listed homes, make competitive offers and negotiate with sellers.

A listing agent helps sellers price, list and market their homes, and negotiate with buyers.

In some rare cases, a single real estate agent can represent both the buyer and the seller in a single transaction. However, it is probably best to have an agent to solely represent your side when you’re looking for a house.

Real estate broker vs real estate agent

Do you know the difference between a real estate broker and real estate agent? Some people might use the terms interchangeably. The truth is that these are similar, but different titles. The main difference between an agent and a broker is that real estate brokers are supposed to have a higher level of education, experience and license than a real estate agent. 

However, there seems to be some confusion and misinformation surrounding the title of real estate broker in Malaysia. In Malaysia, the term “broker” is more often associated with a non-qualified person acting as an agent or a negotiator who might also not be attached to any real estate agency.

Dealing with such a “broker” is risky and dangerous. Therefore, those looking to buy or sell a property will need to do plenty of their own homework to ensure that the “broker” they are dealing with is actually a legitimate real estate professional or an unlicensed individual. Here is a list of differences between the two in a Malaysian context:

Real Estate AgentReal Estate Broker
Minimum of four years of theoretical and practical experience required to practiceNo minimum experience needed
Registered under Malaysian Board of Valuers, Appraisers, Estate Agents and Property ManagersUnlicensed and typically not registered with any real estate agency
Entitled to collect 3% from the Purchase Price as earnest depositCharges and fees may vary greatly
Required to follow strict procedureMore flexible but potentially more risky

Choosing the right agent

According to the Malaysian Institute of Estate Agents (MIEA), agents can charge a commission up to 3% of the sale of the property, which is charged to either the buyer or the seller, depending on whom they represent. Depending on the amount of the sale, this can total up to a hefty amount, so you will want to ensure that you get the right agent for the job to get the best deal possible.

Check their credentials

In Malaysia, all real estate agents (REA), real estate negotiators (REN) and probationary estate agents (PEA) are required to be registered with the Malaysian Board of Valuers, Appraisers, Estate Agents and Property Managers (BOVAEA). This is the official body tasked with regulating the Valuers, Appraisers, Estate Agents and Property Managers in Malaysia.

When shortlisting potential real estate agents, verify their status by checking their details on the official BOVAEA website.

Familiarise yourself with the terms REA, REN and PEA

There are a number of different terms that Malaysians use to identify real estate agents, however, there are differences between them. It is best to learn to differentiate the terms to have a better understanding of who you are hiring and what to expect.

Real Estate Agent (REA)Real Estate Negotiator (REN)Probationary Estate Agents (PEA)
- Must pass Part 1 and 2 of the real estate examinations over a minimum period of two years

- Must undergo post practical training for an additional two years

- Required to take test of professional competence to become certified as an REA
Can open own real estate agency
- Does not have full qualifications of an REA

- However, they have attended compulsory workshops and fulfilled the necessary prerequisites by BOVAEA to practice their trade

- Must be attached to a proper real estate agency as they are not allowed to operate independently or open their own company
- Have taken their real estate exams and are currently undergoing their two-year practical training to become an REA

Find out if they are an area specialist

Agents who specialise in a specific area can tell clients all the plus and minus points of every ‘taman’ or township, and city within their select area. They are also familiar with any local developments and can also advise on upcoming work in the area, such as new highways or new train routes, in addition to new amenities or facilities that may be coming up.

An agent familiar with the neighbourhood can also provide reliable information about the traffic conditions, safety and other aspects you only find out upon living there, and can advise you about how all this affects property valuation.

Look up reviews

We live in an always online world. That means that there are plenty of reviews floating around the internet, even for real estate agents. As such, you should definitely check the reviews of the property agent they are about to enlist. Of course, there are definitely going to be some biases here and there, but if there are quite a few lengthy and positive reviews, it can usually be assumed that the agent is fairly reliable. Just be careful when reading the reviews as some feedback might be given that is outside the agent’s control.

Communicate personally

Whether you are a homebuyer or seller, you will be dealing with an agent very frequently over a couple of months. As such, you should choose an agent that is open and easy to communicate with. You should make the effort to communicate with them often and they should also make you feel comfortable to ask anything at all about the process of purchasing a home, no matter how simple or obvious the question may be. There is not much more advice we can give than to trust your gut. If you feel something is off, it is okay to find another agent you get along well with better.

While you should always do your due diligence and compare agents’ experience and approaches, it is just as important that the one you choose can establish rapport and communicate with you often and sincerely. Look for a competent agent who listens and responds to your needs and has a working style that gels well with yours. In buying or selling a home, people skills matter as much as real estate experience and expertise.

Read More: 5 Things You Need To Know About Engaging A Property Agent

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