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If you’re in the market to either buy or sell a home or property, you will most likely go through a qualified real estate agent–but first you want to make sure they’re reputable and will provide the services they say they will. Conducting a background check will give you a little insight into their character and help you determine whether or not they’re a good choice to handle your business. Following are a few tips on how to do a background check on a real estate agent.

Professional Background Check

Although you may not have to go this far, conducting a professional background check will provide as much in depth knowledge as it’s possible to accumulate. Contact a reputable private investigator and provide them with as much information as you have available to you, such as name, address, business address, phone numbers, etc. Because a professional investigator is used to digging around in people’s lives, they will be able to come up with sources of information that you may not have access to. If you’ve chosen your investigator well, they’ll be able to give you all the information necessary in order to make an informed decision about using the real estate agent. Of course, professional services aren’t cheap. Be prepared to pay accordingly. In most cases it probably won’t be necessary to take this route, because there are a number of things you can do on your own.

Conduct Your Own Search

A background check can be as complex or as simple as you choose to make it. Because you’re the final authority, you will be the one to make the decision on how far you need to dig into the real estate agent’s past. As stated above, a professional investigation will provide in depth knowledge, but if you merely want to know a little bit about their character and reliability you can find out quite a bit about most people simply by doing your own investigation.

Reputation Counts

If someone wants to do business in the real estate market over a long period of time, they must be reputable, which means being honest and above board with their clients. If the real estate agent in question has been in business for any length of time, their reputation will be established. Ask your friends, neighbors, and colleagues if they’ve done business with this individual and if they were satisfied with the service? Did the agent provide the services as advertised? Were they available when they were needed? If your friends, neighbors, or colleagues haven’t worked with the agent, expand your search until you uncover someone who has. Reputation counts in the real estate business, and if the person you’re investigating has any negative qualities they’ll be noticed by the people they’ve done business with.

Ask for References

Before you agree to work with a real estate agent, it wouldn’t be out of line to ask them for references. These can be useful in conducting your background check. Contact the individuals or businesses and ask them about the agent. Find out if they were satisfied with the agent, what qualities they liked about them, and if they would recommend them. Remember, these contacts were supplied by the agent in question, so their answers need to be evaluated accordingly.

Do an Online Search

Conducting an online search of a real estate agent may provide some insights into their business practices. Entering their name in a search engine is likely to give you quite a few hits, most of which will be advertising for their real estate business. At first glance, you may think this won’t be useful, but if you follow some of the links you’re bound to come up with a few names of people they’ve done business with over the years. Contacting these individuals could provide you with some additional information about how the agent conducts business. Most real estate agents that have websites will have listings posted. If you do a little research, you can find out a phone number for the owner and ask them about the agent. The addresses of the listing are generally posted, so a trip to the sight may allow you to talk to the owner about the agent.

Better Business Bureau

If you feel it’s necessary to gather even more information before making your decision, you can always contact the Better Business Bureau and find out if the real estate agent in question, or the agency they work for, has had any complaints about them. If they have, ask whether or not they were resolved.

Guest post from Jean Clark. Jean writes for BackgroundCheck.org, a site that educates people about free background check procedures.