✍️ About this guide: Our advice is based on hundreds of hours of collective research, expert interviews, and testing different ways to find realtors. We hope it helps you find a great agent faster (and potentially save some money, too). Why trust us?
Finding a realtor is easy. But finding the “right” realtor? Not so much. There are over 3.4 million licensed agents in the U.S. And a Google search for “realtor near me” yields 9.2 million results. Where do you even start?
When searching for a realtor, we recommend sticking to sources that are fast, low effort, and offer built-in benefits like quality control and savings. Based on this criteria, most people should start their realtor search here:
- Try an agent matching service: Companies that match you with vetted local agents. Some offer pre-negotiated discounts. They’re free with no obligation.
- Ask people you know: Your personal network is your most credible referral source. But this won’t always work or be an option – and may not get you a lower rate.
But there are obviously many other ways to find a realtor – and this guide covers them all. Read on to learn more about the best (and worst) ways to find a realtor in 2022.
Top 3 ways to find a realtor in 2022
1. 🏆 Best value: Try a free agent matching service
⚡️ Fast and easy, potential savings
Agent matching services learn about your situation and preferences, then match you with local realtors from name-brand brokerages (think Keller Williams, Century 21, etc.) to compare and choose from. You can’t work with any agent you want — selection is limited to agents in the company’s network — but most offer plenty of choice (many have 10,000+ partner agents nationwide). And you can try multiple services for more options, since they’re all free with no obligation.
Why they're great: Agent matching services are much faster and easier than searching on your own. Signing up takes a few minutes and you’ll usually get your agent matches in a few hours. The top brands only work with highly-rated agents, so you’re choosing from a short list of solid options. And some even offer pre-negotiated discounts, which is a big benefit (it’s hard to negotiate lower rates on your own).
How to choose: To get the most value, stick with brands that offer built-in savings and solid customer service. There are some sketchy, automated services out there with little-to-no quality control. You can view our top picks here.
2. 🏆 Also good: Ask family and friends
👍 Most credible option (if the fit is right)
Getting realtor recommendations from people you know (family, friends, neighbors, co-workers) is another great option – assuming you know people who have recently bought or sold a home in your area.
Why it's great: Tapping your personal network is a relatively fast and easy way to find a realtor. It’s also your most credible referral source. These are people who know you and care about your outcome, so they probably wouldn’t recommend an agent if they had a bad experience.
Potential drawbacks: Just because someone you know recommends a realtor doesn’t mean they’ll be a good fit for your needs or preferences. Ask the person making the referral some basic screening questions before reaching out to their agent. Also, a personal referral likely won’t get you any sort of cost benefit. If savings are a top priority, we recommend trying one of our top agent matching service picks first.
Bottom line: It’s definitely worth asking around for recommendations. But even if you get a solid referral, you should still compare the agent with 1-2 others just to be sure you’re getting the best fit and value.
3. Last resort: DIY online search
⛔️ Takes longer, difficult, risky
You can try a DIY online search via agent finder platforms like Zillow and Realtor.com, or search engines like Google, but we don’t recommend it. These sites yield too many options, with too little quality control, for you to make an informed decision quickly.
Our recommendation: Use tools like Zillow and Google to screen prospective agents you’ve found via better sources, like asking people you know or agent matching services. They make it super easy to find key info to inform your decision, like sales numbers and reviews from past clients.
Bottom line: You can certainly find a good agent through a DIY online search – we just don’t think it’s the best starting point. If you want to give it a try, check out our advice on how to use agent finder tools properly and avoid potential pitfalls.
7 more ways to find a real estate agent
Whether you’re selling or buying, swinging by open houses in your neighborhood can be a good way to meet local agents and do some instant face-to-face screening. Though it’s definitely less efficient and productive than our top picks, asking family and friends or going through an agent matching service.
Looking for an agent at open houses provides two key benefits:
- You know the agent or brokerage has relevant experience (they’re listing a house like yours in your neighborhood)
- Someone else already screened and trusted them enough to sell their house (though you’ll still need to vet the agent for yourself and compare to other options)
Open houses also give you a chance to see the agent in action and gauge their abilities or approach. You’ll be able to assess key factors like:
- Did they do a good job of preparing the home for showings?
- Is the open house generating a lot of foot traffic?
- How well is the agent communicating with prospective buyers?
Most listing agents also work with buyers, so an open house is definitely a viable way to find a good realtor – and bonus: you don’t have to set up an appointment in advance.
The open house approach provides some good built-in vetting, as you know the agent is relatively active and someone thought they were legit enough to hire.
You can use the opportunity to talk about the home buying process, local pricing trends, and gauge the agent’s soft skills (personality, communication style, etc). You can even discuss next steps, like getting pre-approved with a lender (if needed) and getting some house showings lined up.
If you really like the home in question, you can speak to the open house agent directly about buying it. If they are in fact the listing agent (vs. someone else from the same brokerage), make sure you understand the ins and outs of dual agency before agreeing to let them represent you.
If you're looking to buy and have already spoken to a lender, they may be able to recommend a local agent.
Lenders are a relatively credible referral source. It’s in the lender’s best interest to get you a good agent so you actually end up closing on a home. Like realtors, lenders only get paid if and when a deal actually closes.
You still should thoroughly vet the lender's recommendations. Some lenders might care more about maintaining their business relationship with an agent (i.e., sending each other referrals) than your specific preferences or needs.
Online forums and message boards, like Facebook groups and Nextdoor, can be a decent place to find anything local, real estate agents included. If you're trying to find a realtor for property investing (or just some advice), you can check out the BiggerPockets forums.
One of the key benefits brought by online forums is that you're getting recommendations from locals with (theoretically) no financial incentive, which adds a layer of credibility.
But this search method can be a hassle. And there's no guarantee you'll get a quality referral from anonymous sources you find online or avoid biased advice. For example, someone could just be trying to promote a family member or friend as a favor.
It may be worth exploring some of these forums if you have a specific need or goal. But asking people you know or working with an agent matching service is going to be a lot faster – and offer more quality control.
Many real estate brokerages still have local brick-and-mortar offices. There's nothing stopping you from walking into an office during normal business hours to speak with a realtor.
The main benefit? You can quickly assess the agent’s softer traits (personality, professionalism, etc.), which you can’t get from a Zillow or Realtor.com profile.
But this approach carries several big risks:
Unless you set up an appointment with a specific agent beforehand, you don’t control who you speak to. There’s a decent chance it will be a newer agent, as top agents have packed schedules and will likely be out assisting other clients.
It’s also possible that all of the agents will be out in the field – or working from home, which has become more common since the start of the pandemic.
If you do end up talking to an agent and immediately realize it’s not a good fit, getting out of the office can be a little awkward (note: this can obviously happen during scheduled meetings as well). It also makes it harder to shop around and compare multiple agents, which we recommend to get the best fit.
|⚠️ Be respectful: If you decide to walk into a real estate office, be respectful of the agent's time – consider setting up an appointment for a future meeting. Better yet, call your local brokerage to set an appointment with an agent you've pre-vetted online before walking into the office.|
Agents plaster ads all over the place to find new clients — newspapers, magazines, park benches, billboards, radio, TV, online (Facebook, Google ads) - you name it.
There’s no real risk in reaching out to an agent you saw in an ad because you don’t have to work with them. But you’re not getting the benefit of built-in vetting beforehand, like you would with an agent matching service or personal recommendation.
If you find an agent you like through a local ad, we recommend screening them online first (Zillow, Realtor.com), and comparing the agent to at least a few others (a top agent matching service can help).
If there's a house for sale in your neighborhood, odds are there's a big sign on the front lawn. While the sign may catch the eyes of a potential buyer, its main purpose is to promote the listing agent and its brokerage to attract new clients.
The sign displays the listing agent's name, brokerage, and contact information, so you can call them to set up an appointment. But this option carries a few big disadvantages.
Home sellers: It's great that the agent has an active listing in your area, as it shows a local homeowner trusts them enough to sell their home. But it says nothing about the agent's ability to actually sell, or the value or services they provide.
Home buyers: The for-sale sign method is a riskier approach for home buyers. The agent might be a listing specialist and work less (or not at all) with buyers. If you want to buy that particular home or another one the agent has listed, it can create a dual agency, which carries significant risks.
Whether you're selling or buying, it's smart to write the agent's information down and screen them online first before setting up a face-to-face meeting.
We still recommend comparing the agent to at least a few others (like through an agent matching service or personal referrals).
While you can use NAR's Find a Realtor tool to find a new agent, we don't recommend it. NAR's search tool is hard to use: there's no easy way to narrow down your search or vet agents.
The best way to use the tool is to look up the contact information, designations, and certifications of a realtor you found online or through a referral.
Everything to know about agent matching services
👉Key benefits of agent matching services
Agent matching services learn about your situation and goals, then recommend a short-list of local agents they think will be a good fit for your needs. Once you’ve got your agent matches, you can interview them, weigh your options, and pick the best fit. If you don’t like any of the agents, you can usually ask for more matches — or simply walk away.
Finding realtors through agent matching services is usually faster and easier than other approaches. You can typically sign up and get your first matches in a matter of minutes. The whole process usually takes less than 24 hours.
⚖️ How to choose an agent matching service
To get the most value and best outcome, always look for these qualities in an agent matching service:
Great customer service: The best brands have dedicated customer service teams that (a) help guide you through the selection process and (b) manage the relationship with your agent to ensure they deliver a good experience.
Strict quality standards for agents: You want a service that only works with highly-rated agents from top nationwide brands and regional brokerages. They remove agents who become inactive or get negative feedback from customers. It’s sometimes hard to tell the difference – we break down the good ones vs. the bad below.
Provides multiple agent matches: Look for a company that lets you request 2-3 agent matches to compare. If you try a brand that only offers a single match (as a policy or because they don’t have many agents in your area), consider signing up for another free service to get a few more options to compare.
Includes cost-savings benefit: A few brands offer built-in commission savings when you find your agent through their service. It’s worth starting here because, if they find you an agent you like, you could literally save thousands vs. had you found the same agent through a competitor or on your own.
Top 4 agent matching services in 2022
Avg seller savings*
Avg buyer savings**
Avg rating (# of reviews)
2. Ideal Agent
*Average of savings compared to a 3% listing fee at $100k, $250k, $500k, $750k.
**Average of savings at $250k, $500k, $750k, $1M, per offer terms.
🏆 Best overall: Clever Real Estate
Clever Real Estate is fast, easy to use, and offers the biggest guaranteed savings of any agent matching service or discount brokerage in the U.S. Sellers get pre-negotiated $3,000 or 1% listing commission rates (instead of the typical 3%). And buyers can get up to 0.5% in cash back after closing – or $2,000 on a $400,000 house.
Another unique Clever benefit is that every member of its Concierge Team is a licensed real estate agent. They can provide general real estate advice, in addition to helping manage the relationship with your agent.
🔎 The competition
Good quality, less selection and savings: Ideal Agent
Ideal Agent has strict quality criteria for the agents in its network and a solid average customer rating. It also offers discounted 2% listing fees for sellers. That’s solid savings compared to the typical 3% listing fee, but about 2x more than you’d pay through Clever. Ideal Agent offers no savings for buyers. Unlike most competitors, Ideal Agent only matches you with a single agent. If you want to give Ideal Agent a try, get 1-2 more referrals from another agent matching service or someone you know so you can compare options.
No guaranteed savings: UpNest
UpNest is fast, easy, and has solid agents in its network. It’s an “online marketplace” where agents submit proposals and compete for your business. In theory, the artificial competition drives savings. In practice, we found the savings to be pretty marginal (and not guaranteed). UpNest says sellers pay an average total commission of 5.2% — not much better than standard going rates (5.45% is the nationwide average). In contrast, Clever sellers typically pay between 3.5-4% total, or up to $8,500 more savings than UpNest on a $500,000 home.
No savings, spotty matches: HomeLight
HomeLight is probably the best-known company on the list, but we don’t recommend it. It has a lot of great agents in its network and is really easy to use. But the same could be said of Clever, Ideal Agent, and UpNest, and they all offer some sort of cost benefit. Just as importantly, the match quality can be spotty. Our mystery shoppers got great matches in certain markets, but the fully-automated process often yielded spotty results and off-base recommendations – particularly outside of major metro areas.
⛔️ Agent matching services to avoid
We recommend avoiding the following agent matching services: FastExpert, Sold.com, TopAgentsRanked, and Dave Ramsey’s ELP Realtors program. We researched and mystery shopped every major agent matching service over a two-month period and felt these brands, in particular, don’t offer enough value – quality control, customer support, or cost savings – to make them worth considering.
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The right way to find a realtor through family or friends
- It’s definitely worth asking family and friends for recommendations!
- This is the most credible referral source – but don’t just assume their agent will be a perfect fit for your needs.
- You’ll need to ask the referrer several questions to ensure their recommendation is actually a good fit.
- Always vet any agent recommendation thoroughly and compare with a few other agents to make an informed decision.
Tapping your personal network for realtor recommendations is 100% worth it, assuming you know people who have recently bought or sold homes in your market.
Personal referrals are the most trustworthy, because they’re coming from people who actually know and care about you. It’s unlikely they’ll recommend an agent they had a bad experience with.
Just know that personal referrals aren’t always the best or most reliable option. And they definitely carry some risks.
Finding the right agent is a highly subjective and personal thing. The situation surrounding your sale or purchase is unique, and so are your preferences when it comes to things like personality and customer service.
In other words, the perfect agent for a friend could be all wrong for you. The agent might not have the right experience for your price range or neighborhood. Or maybe you just won't connect with them, personality-wise.
We don't recommend agreeing to work with a realtor just because they helped a family member, friend, or relative. You still need to thoroughly vet the agent, as you would if you’d found them on your own.
Before you even start screening the agent, evaluate the person making the recommendation to ensure their preferences and circumstances line up with your own.
7 things to ask about when someone recommends an agent
Ask whether the sale or purchase was relatively recent — ideally within the past year. The market conditions should be similar, too: Your brother’s speedy sale may have been more due to a scorching-hot market than his agent’s skills (i.e., selling in a slower market may bring you a different outcome).
Avoid hiring an agent who helped someone sell or buy a property outside of your target area. Tip: in lower population areas, it’s common for agents to cover several towns or zip codes. In cities and high-population suburbs, try to find agents who specialize in your neighborhood, specifically.
Does the agent have experience in your price range? For example, the agent who just sold your cousin’s $300,000 condo might not be the best choice for selling your $2 million mansion. For sellers, the agent should know what buyers in your price range are looking for and how to market your home effectively.
The agent's commission rate will help determine whether they’re in your price range and even worth considering. It also provides useful intel for pricing discussions: you’ll know if the agent is overcharging you compared to your family member or friend — or if there may be wiggle room to negotiate the commission down from their initially quoted rate.
Ask if the agent is a strong communicator and can handle your specific needs and preferences. For example, if you’re a first time home buyer, you might want more proactive communication and hand holding compared to someone with lots of home buying experience.
While personality can be subjective, try to dig into what the agent was like to work with. If someone tells you, “They weren’t exactly what I’d call ‘friendly’ – but they got the deal done,” that’s useful info you can factor into your decision-making process.
You want to get a clear sense of any and all services provided to help get a house sold or purchased. Did the agent go above and beyond the call of duty? Was there anything they didn’t do that you know you absolutely want, like attending showings and inspections for buyers, or including 3D video tours for sellers?
⚠️ You should still shop around!
When someone you know recommends an agent, it’s still important to shop around to get the best fit and value — even if that agent seems like a perfect fit. An agent matching service like Clever, can quickly match you with 1-2 additional agents from top brokerages in your area so you can compare options and make an informed decision.
Finding a good realtor via a DIY online search is hard
👉 Key takeaways
While it’s certainly possible to find a great realtor via Google or an agent finder tool like Zillow and Realtor.com, we don’t recommend it.
Agent finder tools surface and general search engines usually:
- Give you an overwhelming number of results to sift through.
- Contain unhelpful or completely inaccurate data and information.
- Prioritize agents who pay over the most qualified or relevant ones.
While many agent finder tools offer filters to help narrow your search, they’re not very reliable or useful. And you don’t get that same level of built-in trustworthiness that comes with a recommendation from a good agent matching services or someone you know.
A good strategy is to find prospective agents through other, more efficient and reliable means, then use tools like Realtor.com to vet them by looking at past sales, customer reviews, and so on.
If you want to try your hand at a DIY online realtor search anyhow, we’ve compiled some helpful tips and advice on how to use (and not use) some of the top agent finder platforms in 2022.
Top 4 sites for finding a realtor online in 2022
1. Zillow’s Agent Finder tool
Zillow is far and away the most popular real estate platform — but it’s also one of the most unreliable. The site is pretty notorious for having inaccurate or out-of-date information, both on its listings and in agent profiles.
Additionally, all agent finder tools generate money through A) advertising and B) selling your information, but Zillow is particularly loose when it comes to data privacy.
If you want to search for a realtor on Zillow, stick to the agent finder tool (i.e., its self-serve database) and avoid connecting with agents via buttons on actual property listings.
|⚡️Quick tips for using Zillow’s agent finder tool|
⚙️ Don’t get sucked into Zillow’s advertising machine!
The “Contact Agent” and “Schedule a tour” buttons on Zillow listings connect you with Zillow Premier Agents — agents who sign up for Zillow's paid advertising platform. Agents pay a monthly fee to Zillow for a share of the total number of people who click that button in a certain zip code. There's no vetting and no matching. Like any ad platform, it’s all about who has the biggest budget. And get ready for a flood of phone calls and text messages from not only agents, but also lenders, title companies, and insurance brokers.
When you enter your zip code or area into Zillow’s agent finder tool, you’re going to get a ton of results. You’ll need to use the filters to narrow it down to a more actionable short list.
2. Realtor.com’s Find Realtors® tool
Realtor.com and Zillow's home search and agent finder tools are pretty dang similar, but there are a few notable differences. For one, info on Realtor.com is usually more reliable than Zillow. Its data gets pulled directly from local MLSs, which are generally up-to-date and subject to at least some degree of oversight and accuracy requirements.
But unlike most agent finder tools, Realtor.com only shows you capital-R Realtors®, dues paying members of the National Association of Realtors (NAR). NAR has about 1.4 million members, which is a lot — but the other 2 million+ active real estate agents who aren’t NAR members won’t show up in your results.
Like Zillow, Realtor.com makes its money via advertising, which means it tends to push you toward the highest bidders vs. the best agents for your needs. So the same advice applies here: Avoid the “email agent” and “schedule a private tour” buttons on listings. And reach out to agents directly vs. through the platform — or you’ll be swept away by a tidal wave of calls from agents and other service providers (check out this disclaimer 👀).
|⚡️ Quick tips for using Realtor.com’s agent finder tool|
🔎 How to find agents who bought or sold nearby homes on Realtor.com
If you want to figure out who helped the seller or buyer in a recent home sale in your area, it’s actually pretty easy to do on Realtor.com.
- On the Realtor.com homepage, click “Just Sold” above the search bar.
- Type in your zip code, town, or region, then filter by price and property type to see who handled recent sales or purchases similar to yours.
- You can also type in a specific address if you have a particular property in mind.
- At the top of any listing, you’ll see the names of the agents / brokerages who handled the transaction (even if they’re not REALTORS®).
- Again, contact that agent or brokerage directly instead of through Realtor.com to avoid the deluge of sales calls and emails.
Note: Some Zillow listings also show this info, but property listings on Zillow are often less up-to-date and accurate than those on Realtor.com.
3. Finding a realtor on Redfin
Redfin, a popular home search site and the largest discount brokerage in the U.S., has an agent finder tool similar to those on Zillow and Realtor.com.
However — and this is important — while Redfin’s home search tool shows all property listings (pulled from the MLS), its agent finder tool ONLY shows you Redfin agents.
Redfin’s tool is pretty easy to use and offers good transparency. You can see recent sales in your area and read reviews from past customers, just like any other agent finder tool.
But if you’re iffy about working with a discount brokerage and would prefer a conventional brokerage, Redfin’s agent finder tool is obviously a no-fly zone.
If you’re unsure whether you want to work with Redfin, check out our Redfin review to learn more about its service. If you’re here for the savings, it’s worth giving Clever a look as well.
Clever matches you with full-service agents from conventional brokerages like Keller Williams and RE/MAX, but offers lower pre-negotiated rates ($3k or 1%) than Redfin (1.5%). In other words, better savings without any of the risk.
👉 What’s a Redfin Partner Agent?
When you search for an agent on Redfin, you might see some “Redfin Partner Agents” at the bottom of the page. These are agents from other brokerages who pay Redfin a fee for referred business. Importantly, Redfin’s partners don’t have to offer the 1.5% fee, so expect to pay the typical 2.5-3% listing fee rate.
4. Finding a realtor on Google
When it comes to searching for anything, Google is pretty much everyone’s go-to tool. But we don’t recommend it for finding real estate agents. You’ll simply get too many results with too little quality control to make an informed decision quickly.
Use Google to track down info for a specific agent – their profile, phone number, address, etc. Get your referrals from a more efficient and reliable source, like people you know or a top agent matching service.
If you type something like “real estate agent near me” into Google, you’re going to get an unbelievably huge number of results. And there’s effectively zero quality control built into the platform.
Remember, Google is an advertising engine, and the agents who appear in the “Real estate agents nearby” widget at the top of the page paid to be there (hence the “sponsored” label). And the “Google screened” badge doesn’t speak to their ability or experience, either: It just means the agent holds an active real estate license.
The map widget features the three local businesses Google deems most relevant to your search. You can also click through to see more options in your area.
Bear in mind that Google Maps will only show agencies with GoogleMyBusiness accounts, and therefore may not reflect all the options in your area.
Also remember that Google doesn’t rank or vet these businesses, so don’t make any assumptions about the quality of the brokerages you see featured here.
In practice, Google Maps is a lot better for finding restaurants and retail stores than professional services providers, like realtors.
The other Google results you’ll see are mostly advertisements and links for agent matching services like Clever and HomeLight, local directories like Yelp and Zillow, and possibly some local brokerages. Once you click one of these links, you’re finding your agent via that platform, not Google.
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🔎 Finding a realtor for specific situations or goals
To save the most money, your best choice is an agent matching service that offers built-in discounts for sellers and buyers.
Clever Real Estate currently offers the best overall savings of any nationwide, full-service real estate company.
- Sellers get full service for just $3,000 or 1% commission, vs. the typical 2.5% to 3% listing commission.
- Buyers can get .50% of their home's purchase price in cash back after closing ($1,500 on a $300,000 purchase).
Other savings-centric agent matching brands include UpNest and Ideal Agent. The agent quality is comparable to Clever's, but both are more expensive and have some significant drawbacks. Make sure you compare top agent matching services to achieve the best outcome.
It might also be worth investigating discount real estate brokerages like Redfin, Trelora, and Houwzer.
Redfin offers 1.5% listing fees in 80+ markets. Trelora and Houwzer may also provide good value (particularly for pricier homes, due to their flat fee pricing models), but are only available in a handful of markets. Discount real estate brokers also carry some risks when it comes to service quality.
Selling your house fast
If you need to sell your house fast and want to find a realtor, you have a couple of options.
Agent matching service: Most will get you matched with local agents with established track records of fast sales, and can do so within a few hours (even minutes), so this is likely your best bet. Compare top agent matching services.
iBuyers: These are companies that make near-instant cash offers, like Opendoor and Offerpad. iBuyers typically pay close to fair market value and can close in just a few weeks. But they only buy certain types of homes in a handful of cities across the country, so your home may not qualify.
Investors: Selling to a local investor or "We Buy Houses for Cash" company is a last resort option that should only be used if you need to sell ASAP, or have a home in poor condition that will be hard to sell in a traditional sale. Investors purchase properties in any condition, typically pay all cash, and can close in a few weeks (or sooner). But expect to take a hit on price: Investors usually offer 70% or less of a home's after-repair value, minus estimated repairs.
Some realtors claim to specialize in "change of life" situations, which often includes helping divorcing clients sell a house.
The key benefit is the agent has experience handling the various issues and conflicts that may arise between divorcing clients in the home sale process.
If you have a divorce attorney, you can ask them for local realtor recommendations. The attorney might be able to refer you to an agent who has relevant experience.
You can also search for realtors who have completed the Certified Divorce Specialist program, which is a course for professionals who work with divorcing clients.
Relocation (remote sale or purchase)
Some realtors specialize in helping clients who are relocating to a new area.
Often called relocation specialists, these agents not only help you sell or buy a home, but may also assist with your move.
There are a few key benefits to hiring a relocation specialist:
- The agent can help with stressful tasks related to your move, like finding movers and booking travel.
- If you've not yet relocated to your destination but need to buy a house, tech-savvy relocation agents can provide you with virtual tours.
- If you're selling your home but need to move ASAP, a trustworthy agent can handle the sale in your absence.
Worldwide ERC, a trade group for the relocation services industry, has two designations for realtors: CRP (Certified Relocation Professional) and GMS (Global Mobility Specialist). You can search for certified agents at its online directory.
Clever can also refer you to top-rated local agents with remote sale or purchase experience. It provides pre-negotiated low commission rates for sellers and cash back at closing for buyers.
Investors in need of an agent should consider using an agent matching service.
Companies like Clever can recommend investor-friendly agents in your local market, and can even help you find agents with specific investing expertise, like rental properties, house flipping, or commercial investing. And Clever’s built-in savings can help widen your margins on the purchase and resale.
It's also worth digging into the BiggerPockets forums, which are a great resource for finding agents, investment opportunities, potential partners, or just real estate education.
Military and veterans
There are several agent matching services out there that cater specifically to members of the military, first responders, or veterans, like Homes for Heroes and Veterans United Realty.
These organizations aren't affiliated with any government agencies, but may be worth investigating to find an agent who understands the unique needs of service members and veterans, and to potentially get a commission discount or home buyer rebate.
That said, some agent matching brands and discount brokers can match you with military-friendly realtors, and may offer built-in savings.
For example, Clever pre-negotiates a $3,000 discount or 1% listing fee for sellers, the lowest of any full-service nationwide real estate company, and offers 0.5% cash back for buyers on eligible purchases.
We recommend trying a few agent matching services so you can compare multiple realtors and price points to get the best overall fit and value.
Selling in pre-foreclosure or short sales
If you’re in pre-foreclosure or underwater on your loan, you’ll want to find a specialist to help you navigate the tricky process and get the best possible outcome.
Clever can find you a short sale specialist quickly. And its pre-negotiated $3,000 or 1% rates will help you save big and minimize any losses.
You can try Realtor.com’s agent finder tool and use the filters to find agents with CDPE or SFR designations, which signify they've gotten some additional training for short sales and/or foreclosures. Though think of this as more of a starting point than a guarantee of practical expertise.
Zillow’s agent finder tool lets you filter for “short sale / pre-foreclosure” specialists, but these credentials aren’t verified. Agents self-submit their own “specializations” on their Zillow profiles, so this isn’t necessarily a very trustworthy approach.
Just keep in mind that agents with this type of experience are rare. According to NAR, only about 14% of realtors have closed a deal involving foreclosure in the past 12 months. Only about 2% of realtors have handled more than six. Regardless of how you search, be careful and thoroughly vet any prospects to ensure they have legit experience.
Buying foreclosures and government-owned homes
If you're looking to buy a REO (real estate-owned) foreclosure directly from a bank or lender, an agent-matching service can help you find an agent with extensive REO experience, as the process differs from a conventional purchase.
Same goes for government-owned properties – you need to work with a realtor to buy HUD, VA, and USDA foreclosures.
You can also try Realtor.com to search for agents with investor designations, such as CDPE or SFR, or look for buyer's agents with "foreclosure" experience on Zillow. Proceed with caution: while these credentials signify the agent may have completed training, there's no guarantee it will translate into practical expertise.
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Why trust us?
Clever has helped thousands of people, just like you, find great real estate agents and save money when selling or buying their homes. So “how to find a realtor” is a topic we’re well acquainted with — and have a lot of opinions on.
About our recommendations
It's our honest and objective opinion that, for most people, the best way to find a realtor is to use a free agent matching service – whether it’s Clever or one of our competitors.
Agent matching services are the fastest, easiest way to get a short-list of good options. And if you find an agent you like through a brand offering built-in savings, you’re getting a lot of value with no real drawbacks (discounts are hard to negotiate on your own).
But ultimately, the most important thing is finding the best agent for the job. Sometimes agent matching services (including our own) simply won’t have any agents you like – or another approach will make more sense.
Our primary goal is empowering you to make smarter real estate decisions, achieve your goals, and, ideally, save some money while you're at it. To that end, we strive to deliver highly objective, practical guides that cover a variety of different methods and companies so you get the best possible outcome, whether you choose to use our service or not.
✍️ About the author
I've been writing about real estate professionally for the better part of a decade – I've written and edited dozens of guides about discount real estate brokers, agent matching services, and how to save money when buying or selling a home.
My wife and I found our realtor using Clever's agent matching service. We got matched with a great agent, who helped us buy our home for its asking price in a competitive market. Plus we got a check for $2,000 cash back after closing. Not too shabby.
While Clever's agent matching service worked for us, there's obviously no guarantee it will work for you. But since it's free, with no risk or obligation, it's definitely worth a try. If you don't like the agent Clever recommends, you can just walk away and find an agent elsewhere.
Author, Researcher, Content Product Manager at Clever
FAQs about finding a realtor
The best way to find a realtor is through a free agent matching service. These companies learn about your needs and quickly match you with 2-3 pre-vetted local agents from top brokerages like Century 21 and RE/MAX. Going through an agent matching service is much easier and faster than finding an agent on your own. A few agent matching services, like Clever Real Estate, even offer significant built-in cost benefits. If you're selling, Clever's pre-negotiated discounts can save you up to 50% on commission fees. On average, Clever sellers save $9,600. And eligible buyers can get 0.5% of their home's purchase price in cash back after closing. On a $400,000 purchase, that'd put $2,000 back in your pocket. Just for finding your agent through Clever instead of on your own. Find the best agent matching services here.
Sellers and buyers aren’t required to work with real estate agents, but it’s a smart choice for most people and situations. The latest data suggests claims that technology is making realtors obsolete simply aren’t true: today, roughly 90% of sellers and buyers sell or purchase their homes through real estate agents and brokers.
Home sellers: Your agent has the experience and connections to help you get a better outcome and save you a huge amount of time, hassle, and stress throughout the process.In most cases, an agent’s impact on final selling price more than makes up for their commission fee (this is especially true in the case of agents with reduced rates). If you’re a more experienced seller in a hot market, you may be able to get away with selling for sale by owner (FSBO) — but it’s a ton of work and, according to a recent study, you’ll likely sell for less than you would with an agent.
Home buyers: Because you likely won’t pay your agent’s fee out of pocket, it’s effectively free to work with them. And a good buyer’s agent makes a huge difference, especially if you’re a less experienced buyer or relocating to a new area. We recommend all buyers work with an agent. The only exception might be if you opt for a dual agency purchase to give yourself an edge in a competitive market — but make sure you fully understand the risks beforehand.
The short answer is that it’s never too early to reach out to agents to start asking questions and weighing your options — whether you’re selling or buying.
Home sellers: When possible, try to find your realtor at least 4-6 months in advance. But even 12+ might make sense in some situations. Reaching out early when you’re selling gives you plenty of time to:
- Choose the optimal time of year to list your home.
- Get the pieces in place so you’re prepared for your move.
- Make any necessary improvements or repairs beforehand.
Home buyers: You can certainly reach out to agents well in advance, too. But most agents will likely answer your questions, then recommend you get back in touch when you’re actually ready to start house hunting. To that end, it often makes sense to get pre-approved by a lender before contacting agents, which signals you’re not just a tire kicker, but serious and ready to make offers.
Most real estate agents collect 2.5-3% of a home’s sale price as a commission fee at closing. Because most home sales involve two agents, the total commission is usually between 5-6%. If you’re the seller, you’ll typically be on the hook for this fee; however, it’s taken out of your sale proceeds, so it’s unlikely you’ll be paying any of it out of pocket. That said, 5-6% is a hefty chunk of change that can really eat into your profits. Luckily, some brokerages and agent matching services are upending the conventional commission model and offering significant discounts for sellers — in some cases, with no reduction in service quality or scope. Find out which companies offer the lowest commission rates here.
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Consumer Federation of America. "Hidden Real Estate Commissions: Consumer Costs and Improved Transparency."
Clever Real Estate. "What Real Estate Company Has the Lowest Commission Rate in 2022?."
Clever Real Estate. "Average Real Estate Commission Rates By State."
The National Association of Realtors. "Quick Real Estate Statistics."
ARELLO's task force on Promoting Judicious Real Estate Regulation. "Licensure Study 2021."
Mike DelPrete. "The 2021 Emerging Models in Real Estate Report."
Dr. Michael Sklarz and Dr. Norman Miller, Collateral Analytics Research. "Saving Real Estate Commissions at Any Price."