Buying or selling a home is likely the largest financial transaction of a person’s life and often a life-impacting and life-altering event as well. Knowing that, you want to entrust that purchase or sale to qualified hands. You want to make sure the agent you hire really is reputable and qualified, has the necessary experience, and has a demonstrable track record of getting results. And you also know that you can’t just believe and take at face value everything everyone tells you. So let’s make sure that agent is exactly what she is representing herself to be. Here’s how to look up your agent’s background and sales history in Northern Virginia.
Checking an Agent’s License
The first and most crucial step in checking an agent’s background is checking her license. Is she really licensed, and has she been licensed as long as she claims? This can be done, but it may take a little effort in some states.
Your starting point will be The Association of Real Estate License Law Officials website. Enter your prospective agent’s name and see what you get. If the results yielded say “no data,” click on the name and then record the license number you’re given. Dates are not always accurate on this site, but license numbers tend to be correct.
Then you will take the license number you just got and go to the website for your state’s licensing division. You can find it by conducting a Google search for “[name of state] real estate licensing division. (For [name of state], you will, of course, substitute, say, Michigan or Oklahoma or whatever your state is.) Then look for “license verification” and enter the number in the appropriate spot. You will then be informed when the license was officially issued (for most states).
Keep in mind, too, that for some states this site will also tell you whether any complaints have been filed against the agent and whether a license has been temporarily suspended. And don’t forget to search the agent’s background and reputation online through reviews.
Checking an Agent’s Background Concerning Production
To check out an agent’s production record, you can first simply ask her to print out this record from the MLS. Or if you feel uncomfortable with that, you can ask another real estate agent to do it. Checking the production record through the MLS will enable you to know whether the agent has been truthful in her claims about a number of completed transactions, whether she is really the top performer she claims to be. Remember that on average a successful agent sells about a minimum of one home per month or 12 per year.
Also, be sure in checking the agent’s background with respect to performance to look into the agent’s website. Do the testimonials have actual names on them? If not, ask the agent to provide names and phone numbers so you can ask the client’s themselves about the agent’s performance. If the agent refuses to comply, well, then there’s a big red flag.
While you’re digging into the agent’s background via her website, be sure to look into the agent’s active listings. There should be a section and a tab, something like “My Listings,” so you can do this. If there isn’t, then beware.
Read through the listings carefully. Occasionally, an agent will advertise other agents’ listings at the same real estate company as her own. If you have any doubts, call the office number and ask for the agent’s name for a particular listing. These things aren’t common, but it always pays to perform due diligence.