Real estate agents for investors have specific expertise. According to data from the National Association of Realtors, 73% of home buyers only interview one real estate agent during their home search. While many agents are capable of helping buyers find a comfortable primary residence, not every agent has experience determining the investment potential of a property. If you work with the first agent you interview, you may not get the most highly qualified person possible.
When it comes to investing, it’s critical to find an agent who knows what they’re doing. An investor-friendly agent can calculate a cap rate or the vacancy rate of a particular neighborhood. Essentially, their job is to help you avoid leaving money on the table.
To maximize your ROI, find out exactly what to look for when it comes to finding an investor-friendly realtor.
- Investor-friendly realtors support your goals with their knowledge of the rental market, a network of connections, experience calculating ROI, and profit-oriented negotiation tactics.
- Look for agents by using online agent-matching platforms, attending networking groups, and browsing recently listed and sold investment properties in your area.
- Interview multiple agents before committing to one person. Come prepared with a list of questions that hit on key characteristics you’re looking for in an agent.
Benefits of Working With an Experienced Real Estate Investment Agent
There’s a lot of work involved in buying and selling investment properties. That’s why some investors might be tempted to skip the hard work of finding the right agent and go with whoever is convenient.
But skipping the vetting process for agents could impact your investment in the long term. If you’re wondering how to get into real estate investing, the agent you choose makes all the difference.
Here’s why working with an experienced agent matters:
- Knowledge of Rental Market Trends: An agent who knows vacancy rates for specific neighborhoods in your region and expected job and population growth can help you estimate the long-term profitability of a property.
- Local Contacts and Connections: A well-connected agent can connect you with the best lenders, inspectors, contractors, and appraisers. The depth of your agent’s network can help you close deals more quickly than other investors and get better rates on loans and other services. You may be able to get access to off-market properties if your agent has ties to investor networks in the area.
- Ability to Calculate Returns: As a new real estate investor, you’ve done your research. You know how to calculate net operating income (NOI), cap rates, gross rent multiplier (GRM), and what type of cash flow you need to be profitable. But an experienced agent has calculated these key metrics hundreds of thousands of times. They can act as a financial consultant by sharing their first-hand experience.
- Profit-Focused Negotiation: Your agent should understand you need the best prices possible, or you’ll walk away from a deal. An agent who has worked with investors will be a determined negotiator when it comes to cost because they know every dollar counts. They’ll make sure you get a good deal, increasing your profitability.
How to Find Real Estate Agents for Investors
1. Explore Online Agent-Matching Platforms
Agent-matching platforms match you with an agent who has expertise in the specific types of properties you are interested in.
The top agent-matching platforms include:
- Upnest: Upnest is a platform that gathers some basic information from buyers and connects you quickly to multiple agents. Those agents compete for your business by detailing the services they provide, the expertise they have, and their rates. The competition can help you find the top agent in your area more quickly.
- Roofstock: Roofstock is an online platform specifically designed for investors. The company was created to make investors’ lives easier. By connecting with a Roofstock Certified Agent, you receive access to an investor-friendly agent in your area.
- Homelight: Homelight will provide you with a list of the top agents in your area who specialize in the types of properties you’re interested in. This platform allows you to quickly vet a few different agents to determine if they have the skills you need.
While online platforms can connect you with excellent options, it’s still critical to do independent research before you commit to working with someone. Don’t settle for the first person you find.
2. Network With Real Estate Investors
Networking is a great way to make connections and get introductions to top-notch real estate professionals who specialize in investment. JD Esajian the president of multi-million dollar real estate investment company CT Homes says, “Networking is one of those areas that investors know they should focus on but rarely do enough. By making networking a priority, you will not only gain more contacts but also gain more deals.”
Try these networking strategies to find real estate agents for investors:
- Reach out to agents on online platforms like LinkedIn or Facebook
- Ask friends and family for referrals
- Attend networking events for real estate professionals
- Join real estate investment clubs or mastermind groups
The National Real Estate Investors Association and the National Real Estate Investment Club are great places to look for networking events and investment clubs. The more you integrate into the industry, the more likely you are to meet a great real estate agent to develop a partnership with.
3. Find Out Which Agents Are Dominating Your Area
You can view nearly any property for sale or recently sold in your area with platforms like Zillow and Redfin. Each listed property will have the listing agent’s information included. You can tell an agent is a top-performing, investment-friendly agent when their name is attached to many investment properties in your area.
Neva Williams a real estate agent and investor explains on the Bigger Pockets YouTube channel how to identify investor-friendly agents by scrolling Zillow or the MLS. She recommends identifying a target area and going through the last 50 transactions.
She says, “You want to find real estate agents that have consistently listed pre-foreclosures, short sales, and REOs or bank-owned properties . . . If you see an agent that consistently lists pre-foreclosures, short sale, and REOs, they are definitely investor friendly.”
Questions to Ask a Real Estate Agent to Learn If They’re Investment-Friendly
Do you have personal real estate investment experience?
Look for agents who have participated in real estate investing themselves. First-hand investment experience goes a long way in helping you make informed decisions. An agent’s personal investment experience shows their investment advice is not just talk. You want someone with a track record of investment decisions that have proven successful.
How many investors do you work with as clients, and what are some examples of investment deals you’ve closed?
It’s important to know your agent has worked with at least a small handful of investors in the past and successfully closed multiple deals. Discuss with your potential agent the successes and failures they’ve seen while helping investors find profitable properties. Share your goals as an investor with your potential agent and ask whether they’ve succeeded in helping previous clients achieve similar goals.
Do you specialize in any specific market or property type?
Real estate agents for investors often have specialties. Some agents work exclusively with luxury rentals or vacation homes, while others focus on fix-and-flips or distressed properties. Every sub-market in your region has its own challenges. An agent who has bought and sold a particular property type dozens of times will know how to guide you through the process.
On the other hand, an agent who primarily works with luxury properties may not be a good resource when identifying potential fix-and-flip properties. You’ll have the best experience possible when working with someone who knows your target market like the back of their hand.
Do you have any qualifications or certifications related to investment?
The National Association of Realtors (NAR) certification programs provide agents with investor-oriented training. When looking for the best real estate agents for investors, ask potential agents if they’ve participated in these training programs or any other educational programs to give them additional expertise.
- Real Estate Investing/REI: This certification program requires agents to take 14 credit hours and an exam. Agents who go through this program learn how to find the best investment properties.
- Short Sale and Foreclosure Resource/SFR: This certification program focuses on short sales and foreclosures. If your investment strategy involves these properties, working with an agent trained to deal with the complexities of these properties can give you an upper hand.
- Certified Commercial Investment Member/CCIM: This certification requires agents to take eight classes and an exam. They also must work in the commercial real estate industry for at least two years. An agent with this certification has proven their knowledge and experience are sufficient to help CRE investors.
Find Success With a Thorough Vetting Process
The right agent can act as a mentor throughout your real estate investment career. Once you’ve found the right person, you can create a partnership that lasts years, increases your wealth, and introduces you to opportunities you couldn’t have found on your own.
To perfect your vetting process, follow these four steps:
- Understand your needs and wants: Once you know your investing strategy and budget, as well as which markets you’d like to pursue, you can have fully informed discussions with potential agents.
- Identify top agents in your area: Make a list of top-performing agents who work within your market and specialize in the type of properties you’d like to focus on.
- Interview top candidates: Bring your list of questions to a conversation with potential agents. Whether in-person, by phone, or through email, make sure you look for agents with high-quality responses to your questions.
- Connect with the top candidate: Choose the top agent from the list of those you interviewed. But remember, if you don’t feel a good connection with the chosen agent, it’s okay to fire your agent and begin the process again. It’s better to put in the extra effort instead of losing money on your investment because you’re working with the wrong person.
To learn more about becoming a top-tier real estate investor, check out “How to Minimize Risks in Real Estate Investing.”