One of the very best things you can do as a real estate investor is to find a trustworthy real estate agent and develop a relationship with them. A good agent will save you time and help you tap into the local market in a way you might not be able to yourself. Most importantly, a great real estate agent will possess a wealth of information that you, the investor, might not have the time to learn.

Unfortunately, there’s one big problem with real estate agents: It’s incredibly hard to find a good one. Not every agent is experienced in working with investors, and fewer still understand the unique lens value investors use to evaluate a property. It can add up to stressful communication errors and misunderstandings.

A great real estate agent may be hard to find, but they’re out there! As an investor, you just need to take a few extra steps when vetting potential agents.

Before you talk to any agents

There’s one essential step before you start networking with real estate agents: Figure out what you want! If you’re not sure of what your goals are or what position you’re in, how can you expect any agent to realistically help you? Ironing out your own agenda first will expedite the search for a great agent and make sure you find one who can align their abilities with your expectations.

Finding leads and prospecting

Finding real estate agents to talk to is as easy as doing a quick Google search or stopping into a local real estate branch. However, this means casting a very wide net. The better approach is to consult with professionals in your network.

Ask fellow investors in your local real estate investing club who they use. Or, if you have a mortgage broker you’re on good terms with (and who also works with a lot of investors), ask them for a recommendation or two.

Narrowing your search for the right agent

Right out of the gate, make sure every potential agent you speak with knows you’re an investor. Be upfront and clear about your intentions for the property you’re planning to buy, as well as your long-term goals. This not only weeds out agents who prefer not to work with investors, it sets the standard for a long-term outlook.

In addition to setting expectations, vet the credentials of agents recommended to you. One of the single most important qualifications you should look for as an investor is whether an agent is an investor him or herself. Investor-agents are more likely to have the perspective and insight you need to evaluate potential investment properties. Other questions you might ask of your potential agent - what kind of sales volume do they do in a year? How long have they been licensed and in the field? What’s their familiarity with different types of real estate transactions? As an investor, you need someone knowledgeable.

If your prospective agents check the boxes so far, it’s time to take a look at other important factors such as where they operate or what types of real estate they specialize in. You’ll want someone with keen insight into the specific city or town you want to buy property in, as well as experience matching your property interest (single family, commercial, mixed-use, condo, etc.).

It’s also important not to ignore gut feel and personability. You’re about to put a lot of trust in your real estate agent and (hopefully) form a long-term relationship with them. Make sure you’re talking with someone who instills confidence, is accessible and appears knowledgeable.

Why go through the trouble?

This might all sound like a lot of work and in some cases, it is! But, it’s well worth it to find a real estate agent who understands your needs and expectations. Here’s why:

•Agents can provide quantitative and analytical data beneficial to investors, such as comps, market information and historical insights about specific properties or areas.

•Agents can navigate MLS listings fluidly and have access to listings before they hit the general buyers’ market, allowing you to find opportunities earlier.

•They’ll save you the time of scheduling showings and inspections, as well as filling out and filing paperwork.

•They’ll fill you in on recent transactions, upcoming developments and general trends at the market level in specific areas.

These benefits will help you find and capitalize on investment opportunities you might not have been privy to without the help of a good real estate agent.

If you’re lucky enough to find a real estate agent who understands your goals, meets your expectations and adds value to the investment process, add them to your inner circle. Tap them for advice, insights and more involving real estate, and reward them with your business. It’ll be a partnership that plays no small role in your long-term investing success.

Monika Jazyk, Rachel Oliver and Gillian Irving are the “The Mothers Of Real Estate” aka MORE. With almost 30 years combined experience and over $100M in deals across multiple strategies, new investors have been turning to MORE for comprehensive real estate fundamentals training since 2016. For MORE information and to register for the online course, click here.