R.E. Agents: Three Things I Have To Know When I Hire An Agent

Re: R.E. Agents

“How do I find the right agent?”

If you are in the middle of searching for your first property to flip, finding the right agent can sometimes be a discouraging process.

More than likely, the “right” agent is busy with existing clients. Most of the time, working with investors with no experience or track record is left to the new agents in the office.

Welcome to reality. Your first flip isn’t going to be easy. Fast and easy is only on TV.

Which is OK. We all have to start somewhere.

Let me share with you a few things that I look for when I hire an agent to sell a property. You might be surprised to know – it has very little to do with the number of transactions.

1. Time in DC Area.
Did this agent grow up in the area, or did they just arrive from Dallas or Milwaukee due to a spouses job transfer? The DC area is very transient. I like building relationships in our business and someone who just moved into town is also likely to be moving out of town in a few years as well.

If you are serious about this business, play the long game. It will pay off down the road.

Sometimes people leave a profession and enter into real estate sales. I tend to prefer a person who has been an agent for at least 5 years and 10 is even better. But they must have been in the DC area far longer, and have a great grasp on the local “scene” when it comes to our market. Which areas are hot, which are consistent, and what part of town has gone soft – all great questions for an initial conversation. Their answers will tell you a lot about their experience.

2. Let’s talk marketing.
“Can you give me an address of one of your current listings?” This question usually cuts right to the bottom line of our discussion. While we are talking, I immediately pull up the listing on my computer or phone, like 99% of our buyers. If the photos are all hacked up, disjointed, blurry and/or the property description is boring – the conversation is over.

3. Reputation.
This is a big one for me. Referrals are a big part of my business. When I try to buy or sell a property that is out of town, I do everything I can to quickly find another investor who does a lot of business in the area and use their judgment on the best fit for an agent. Sometimes, it works in reverse. I find an agent, and ask if they have any investors who can recommend them professionally. Either way, talk to both people.

People are surprised when they first hear – even though I have a license – I hire or partner with other agents to sell property for me.

Why would that be a surprise? Every month at WREIA we talk about how important it is to spend time on what you do best. Higher-end, luxury DC condos are not my specialty when it comes to sales. So, when we have those projects, I hire agents who specialize in luxury condo sales.

When we purchase homes in other niches outside of my normal “bread and butter” DMV single family or townhouse flip, I immediately start looking for the pro in that out-of-town or niche market. It’s worth every penny to pay for professionals in those tight niches.

I use my license as a default. If no one is clamoring for my business, it’s easy enough to put together a listing for the property. However, sometimes an agent is hungry, wants the listing, and meets the three criteria above. In those instances, we usually pass off the listing to that agent so I can focus on what I really enjoy doing – finding the next project.

You should do the same.


Don’t go into this process thinking you are going to do everything. It will take too long and you can kiss your profits goodbye.

For instance, should you paint the house? Is that what you do best? Or did you overpay for the property and now you HAVE TO paint the house yourself because you don’t have the budget to pay professional painters?

Plumbing, electrical, windows, roof repairs….. The list is endless. It doesn’t start or stop with the agent. The agent is simply one more person that you should hire to specialize in their craft.

If you are looking for a little more insight into doing your first or maybe your next flip here in the DC area, you should join us at our Oct. WREIA meeting Monday, Oct. 16th in Bethesda.

Reserve your seat here.

Dozens of active and aspiring investors get together each month at our WREIA meetings to network, share resources and educate each other on tactics and practices that are working right now in the DC area.

We’ve been doing this every month since 2001.

And on Oct. 16th, we will cover so much more…..

If you want to learn how to make money flipping houses in the DC area – in 2017, ’18 and beyond – join us at WREIA on Oct. 16th.

I’ll give you a roadmap with action items you can take and put to use as soon as you leave the room.

Enjoy yet another meeting with no sales pitch. Just tactics and info for members of our WREIA community.

If you are ready to get to work – Join me on Oct. 16th.

Reserve your seat here.

John Peterson
Founder, Washington Real Estate Investors Association