How I would pick my real estate agent...

Yvo Smit | September 30, 2020

It continues to amaze me that many people do more research buying a car than choosing a real estate agent. Buying or selling a home is arguably one of the most important sales transactions you will make, so don't be afraid to do your due diligence before signing on with an agent. Here is my advice for picking a real estate agent:

First of all, I would only work with an agent who has a team. We, for example, have two full-time marketing colleagues, who constantly monitor and adjust our social media and internet advertising campaigns to hit the right potential buyers. Year to date we have had over 600,000 social media exposures for our client’s properties.

Too often, we run into agents who are ‘too busy’ to manage prepping a house for sale or even to show interested buyers the property they are listing. Agents with a team, in our case 6 people, have exponentially more power behind their punch.

When selling a home, you want the highest price and quickest sale. Many sellers go with the agent who promises the highest price. My experience is that the actual sales price is highly correlated to the number of qualified buyers who see and like your home, so consider your real estate agent's plan and ability to bring in the greatest number of potential buyers. We for example email almost 2,000 San Francisco agents (who do more than 95% of all transactions) about every listing we bring on the market.

We have the most analytical sales team in San Francisco, and have data and insights from every transaction we have been part of for the last +15 years. We for example check every vendor we have against previous projects they have done for us. Ask the real estate agents you consider which of their stagers would be right for your sale and which one has achieved the highest price for a property like yours.

If you're looking to sell your home, here are some questions I would ask:

  • What are your marketing capabilities, especially on social media? What sets you apart from other agents?
  • What do you think is the profile of the buyer of my home and how are you going to bring them in?
  • Who were the agents on the other side of your last three transactions? Do you mind if I give them a call? (You really want to know that your real estate agent is respected and liked by their colleagues.)
  • What are your sales stats and how do they compare to other real estate agents? (+3% per square foot can make huge difference!)
  • What does your team bring to the table?
  • How often do you ‘double end’ a property? (You want to make sure your property gets maximum exposure and is not just (easily) sold to another client of your agent.)

When looking to buy a property I would want to work with a real estate agent who is connected with other real estate agents, is in the know and has a proven track record negotiating deals. Here are some of the questions I would ask:

  • How many of your buyers this year have bought an off-market home? You want to make sure that your real estate agent is in the loop, since many of the best properties never come on the market. This also means working with a real estate agent from one of the larger firms, since they hear about coming soon properties from their colleagues before anyone else.
  • How do I know you will pay enough attention to my search, and how will we communicate? Make sure you are a priority.
  • What would other agents say about you? Can I call the agents on the other side of your last transactions?
  • How can I help you to find me my dream home? You want to make sure you do your part too. Under the COVID showing rules many real estate agents require pre-approvals, to see a property. Make sure you get pre-approved now.

Last but not least; Work with a proven entity. Your home sale or search is too important to be handled by your cousin or friend who just got their real estate license. It often would be a better financial decision to hand them a $20k check and work with the best team in the market.  

The San Francisco real estate market has seen a huge uptick in the level of sophistication, skills and knowledge of real estate agents in the last couple of years. There are very smart, sharp, connected, well-liked (by other real estate agents and clients), innovative, business-minded rear estate agents out there. In the end, my main recommendation is to do your research.

As always, feel free to reach out if you'd like to discuss any. You can find us at  (UPDATED OCTOBER 2020)