Sounds like a very good question, and in many ways, it is a great question. However, the question is probably incomplete, and leaves a little too much open to assumption. If I said to you "I have been in the business for 25 years!" you might assume that I am very knowledgeable and have the kind of experience that you would want and need from a Realtor. Unfortunately, your assumptions might be more robust than my experience in today's fast moving business market. To be good at what I do every day, I can not rely on the fact that I took classes 10 years ago, or sold a few nice homes in my community last year. Too much is changing in Real Estate, and for my money, I would want to know about one's real-time experience during the past 12-18 months. Q: How many homes have you sold this year? Q: What do you know about the lending environment? Q: Are you doing so much business that you are surrounded by a team of professionals? Q: What about Title companies. Real Estate Attorneys. Licensed property Inspectors. Construction trades. Builders. Who are you surrounded by that are in the business to help your clients with a smooth transaction and home delivery?
If you look up the statistic and national profile for a Realtor, you will find some surprising and shocking statistics. The typical profile for a Realtor in the US is a person who is probably not the primary 'bread winner' for the family, and makes relatively little money. The biggest group of Realtors helps 1-5 clients a year in their home search. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported in 2008 that 64% of the Realtors in the nation sold from 0-10 homes in 2008. 43% of all Realtors sold 0- 5 homes. Approximately 45% of all Realtors sold less than $1M in sales last year. That would equal a gross income of about $20-25,000 for the year, minus all of their professional and personal expenses--which are not small. It is hard to imagine that these people are feeding families on this income.
If your Realtor's primary income is not Real Estate, and they are not selling houses every day of the week, you may discover that "25 years in business" is not as robust and helpful as you may have believed it to be. That is not to say that every Realtor that has been in the business for a long time is a bad Realtor. But when you are getting to know your Realtor, please make sure you are asking the kind of questions that tell you about his/her experience in this current market--not their years on the job. What kind of organization are they surrounded by? Not the number of people in the organization. Numbers of people mean nothing about quality. Numbers of transactions per individual, revenue by individual, and ongoing, weekly team training can be the kind of information that tell you more about your Realtor's qualifications.
Experience is a wonderful thing. I have met Realtors that are just getting started in the business that I would recommend to my friends and family over Realtors who have been in the business for many years--why? Because they have studied hard during the past year to know more about what is going on in this current market--more than many of the Realtors that I have met in the business for many years. They may not live in the community, but living in a community does not mean that someone is a good Realtor or business person. At the end of the day, it is not about how long your Realtor has been in the business that counts. It is about how knowledgeable and experienced they are with what is happening in this ever-changing market and how well they can help you in your very important home search.
My bottom line recommendation: don't ask your Realtor how long they have been in the business--ask your Realtor how many homes they sold in during the past 12-24 months. Ask them about what is happening in this current market that makes it different than 2 years ago. Ask them for references and customer satisfaction from your clients. What do their clients have to say about them? And then judge for yourself.
[Ref NAR web site: http://mysinglepropertywebsites.com/propertysites/2009-nar-member-profile-2]