Buying or selling a home can be a very stressful time. Buyers need to find a home that meets all their needs, within their budget, and usually on a strict timeline. Sellers need to pack their belongings, stage the house, list it, and sell it while taking advantage of the market. 

There are countless other moving parts that are difficult to manage all by yourself. However, with the help of a trusted real estate agent, the home-buying and -selling process goes smoothly. 

To find a trusted real estate agent in Charleston, South Carolina, you will need to determine your real estate wants and needs, build a list of prospective agents and vet them through research and interviews. Your agent should have intimate knowledge of the many neighborhoods and regions in Charleston, like Kiawah Island real estate or West Ashley. 

Selling and buying a house is a significant commitment; learn how to find a real estate agent you can trust in Charleston. 

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Why You Need an Agent

The advantage a real estate agent gives you comes from their experience buying and selling homes in the location you want to buy or sell in. They know about the local market, have a trained eye for specific issues, and have connections in the area. An experienced agent can protect you from a home that seems right for you but fails to meet your needs. A seller agent can help you view your home as a product, removing the element of personal attachment. 

Buyer agent vs. seller agent

Buyer agents represent the purchasing party, and seller agents represent the selling party. Sometimes a single agent represents both sides in what is called dual agency. Although dual agency is legal in South Carolina, the dual agent cannot prioritize one party’s needs over the other. 

Even though the end goal of buyer and seller agents is the opposite, they interact with their clients in similar ways. Both want to know their clients’ needs and wants. If a seller cares most about closing a deal as quickly as possible, the REALTOR® can add that into their selling plans. 

If a buyer wants a home with a big backyard and the freedom to build home additions, they can filter their home search based on their wishlist. No matter who their clientele is, a trustworthy agent should put in significant effort to understand what you want out of this process. 

An agent’s specific responsibilities

A buyer agent helps you find the right property, adds their perspective to every potential property during showings, guides you through every step of the purchasing process, negotiates offers on your behalf, and refers you to essential professionals like home inspectors. 

A seller agent prepares your home to sell by recommending high return on investment alterations like a new coat of paint or a low-end bathroom remodel. They are also responsible for working with you to stage your home for showings, having professional listing photos taken, determining appropriate pricing for the local market, and negotiating the final deal. 

If you don’t hire a trusted real estate agent, you could be left stressing about all these steps without anyone to call for help. To ensure you get the best agent for you, start by identifying what you need from your home purchase or sale.  

Start by Determining Your Needs

Different REALTORS® are experts in specific geographic regions and types of homes. To find an agent with the right experience for your situation, you need to be clear about your deal breakers when purchasing or selling a property. 

Get pre-approved for a mortgage.

If you are buying a new home, the first step in determining your needs is finding out your budget. You can do this by approaching a lender for the preapproval of a mortgage amount. Getting pre-approved for a mortgage requires you to apply with financial institutions. They will do a credit check and look through documentation like your work history, assets and liabilities, and tax returns. To get the best mortgage offer, apply for pre-approval from multiple lenders. 

Having a preapproval before you get your buying agent shows them you are serious about purchasing a home and lets them know your budget. This helps the agent find and show you listings best suited to your needs. 

Separate wants from needs.

It is easier to determine your wants and needs when selling your home. Consider the time frame, how much you can spend preparing your home, and your negotiating limits. A real estate agent can help you determine these parameters.

When buying a home, separating wants from needs is more challenging. Start by thinking about your dream home and then eliminate various aspects of it until you’re within your budget constraints. The items you’re removing from the property are what you want, while the elements you cannot compromise are what you need. 

You should also consider resale value and the effect of value items when establishing what you want in a property versus what you need. A value item is a part of a home that significantly increases its resale value, such as hardwood floors or granite countertops. These features might be worth opting for over other wants. 

Are special qualifications important to you?

A REALTOR® is someone who is licensed through the National Association of REALTORS®. This means they are educated in best practices and have agreed to abide by a code of ethics. There are also further specialized designations and certificates REALTORS® can earn. For instance, a REALTOR® with NAR’s Green Designation is educated in finding, understanding, and marketing properties with green features. 

These specializations are not necessary for a REALTOR® to be trustworthy, but you may want to seek them out in some cases. If you are selling a luxury home, it may be worth finding an agent with the Luxury Home Certification. 

Build a List of Prospective Agents

Your goal when researching potential agents is to find three trustworthy candidates that you can interview. When you are first starting your search, finding three might seem difficult. That is why starting with referrals from people you trust is best. You can check out an agent’s online presence to see what kind of homes they work with and their general vibe.

Get referrals from friends and family.

What better way to find a trustworthy real estate agent in Charleston than to ask someone you trust about their experience? If a family member or friend recently bought or sold a home in Charleston, ask them about their experience. If they had a good agent, add them to your interview list. 

That said, if your family member or friend is a different kind of buyer or seller, then their agent may be the wrong fit for your needs. Maybe your friend owns some historic downtown Charleston rentals and used an agent to purchase them. If you are looking for a home to settle down in, you may not be compatible with an agent focused primarily on investment properties. 

This should not immediately disqualify the agent from consideration but requires you to do some more research to ensure they have helped clients with similar needs to yours in the past. 

Research agents online.

Check potential agents’ social media pages, past client reviews, and websites. Their social media and website can tell you if they work with people who have the same wants and needs as you. Their past client reviews can add credibility to their work as well. However, do not fret about one or two bad reviews if most reviews are positive. 

You can also check the South Carolina Real Estate Commission Licensee Lookup to confirm an agent’s real estate license. The search also tells you if an agent has any complaints on their record.  

Interview Prospective Agents

Once you have a shortlist of prospective agents, you should set up interviews with them. Your goal in the interview is to size up their professionalism and trustworthiness and ensure they understand what you are looking for when buying or selling a home. They should welcome an interview and have a polished presentation for you to evaluate. You should also have some questions ready for them.

You will want to ask how long they have been an agent, how long they have worked in the area you hope to buy or sell in, how many clients they currently have, and how long they typically work with buyers and sellers before they close the sale. Knowing how many clients they have is necessary to find an agent that can give you an appropriate amount of time and effort.

You also want to make sure your agent’s communication methods align with yours. If you do not use email frequently and the agent relies primarily on email for correspondence, you may want to work with someone else. It may not seem that important, but open communication is essential to closing a deal in a fast-moving housing market.  

They Should Be Familiar with Charleston 

The best real estate agent in Charleston for you is the one with intimate knowledge of the regions and neighborhoods that interest you the most. Based on your input, they should know which neighborhoods work best for you. Downtown Charleston, Mount Pleasant, and Kiawah Island are three unique parts of Charleston that represent how different each neighborhood is. 

Explore All of Charleston’s Communities

Downtown Charleston

Downtown Historic Charleston is steeped in history, from homes built in the 1800s to its cobblestone streets. It has many parks and attractions like the South Carolina Aquarium and Fort Sumter. While Charleston is a southern city with the food to back that up, it also has numerous international dining options.

Your REALTOR® might propose a home in downtown Charleston if you want to be connected to city entertainment and job opportunities while enjoying historic streets and houses. There are modern and historic homes throughout downtown Charleston in varying sizes and on small and large plots of land. 

Mount Pleasant

Mount Pleasant is a suburb of Charleston where most residents own their homes. The schools in Mount Pleasant are highly rated and it’s a 20-minute drive to downtown and a quick 10-minute drive to the beach. Mount Pleasant also has many parks and dining options, suitable for both families with kids and date nights.

The Mount Pleasant homes for sale are primarily built after 2000 and vary widely in size and style. It is one of the fastest-growing communities in all of South Carolina, so you may have to act fast to snag a home before it goes off the market. A trusted REALTOR® can help you close quickly on a property that meets your needs. 

Kiawah Island

Kiawah Island has been carefully planned to maintain its beautiful barrier island characteristics. Kiawah Island real estate is built throughout a maritime forest and on beachfront property. There are also six fantastic golf courses and plenty of other outdoor recreation opportunities. 

If you are looking for a place to relax and focus on golf or escape in winter, a real estate agent is likely to recommend Kiawah Island. Like many island communities in Charleston, Kiawah attracts tourists in the summer but is otherwise a calming, nature lover’s paradise.

Find a Trusted Agent with Dunes Properties

The process of buying or selling a home is anything but simple, and even finding the right real estate agent can take serious effort. From determining your wants and needs to interviewing prospective agents, it can take time to find a trusted REALTOR®. If you are looking for a trustworthy real estate agent in Charleston, South Carolina, start your search at Dunes Properties.

Dunes Properties has certified REALTORS® who specialize in hyper-local areas within Charleston. We also have agents who specialize in second-home buyers, walkable communities, and just about every aspect that draws people to Charleston, SC. Contact us to learn more about Charleston real estate and get in touch with one of our 80+ real estate agents. 

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