Money Checkup Podcast

Choosing the Right Real Estate Agent

Episode 41: Choosing the Right Real Estate Agent

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Buying and selling a home can be a stressful, emotional process, but an experienced real estate agent can make it significantly easier. Chicago agent Suchi Bhagat explains the role real estate agents play throughout a home transaction on both the buyer and seller side, from understanding a market to staging a home to writing an offer. 

“Ultimately, the selling price of a home is what a buyer is willing to pay for it. Sellers should look for an agent who can place the home in the best light, as a dream home for the right buyer.” 

As you begin your homebuying search, make sure you identify both a real estate agent and a lender who will put your needs first throughout the process. 


Suchi Bhagat is a Chicago-based real estate broker with special expertise in the Lincoln Park, South Loop, West Loop, Streeterville, and River North neighborhoods. She began her career in QA analysis and tax preparation and has been working in real estate for 13 years. She has received multiple awards, including the Five Star Professional Award, Top Producer Award (CAR), and Centurion Award. She lives in the South Loop, where she loves to cook and spend time with her nieces.

Ways to connect with today’s guest:

(224) 522-4878


  • Every real estate agent is different. If you’re looking to buy your dream home, work with a full-time, licensed agent who is affiliated with a reputable brokerage. Ideally, your agent should specialize in your desired neighborhood and product type. When you’re selling your home, look for an agent who can maximize your exposure by working with professional photographers, designers and staging companies and who can truly execute a marketing plan. 
  • Not all real estate agents have the ability to list property on all online listing services, particularly those that cater to international buyers. 
  • Connect with a loan officer early in your homebuying process so you can get pre-qualified for a mortgage, especially if you are buying in a competitive market.
  • Well-connected real estate agents have knowledge of “pocket listings,” which are homes for sale that are not advertised publicly. For sellers, pocket listings can help protect privacy and livability; for buyers, pocket listings mean less competition. 
  • To get your home ready to sell, paint it in on-trend neutral colors (currently light shades of gray). Declutter your home so buyers can imagine themselves in the home. Consider doing a home inspection and repairing electrical or plumbing issues ahead of time so that you can show buyers an inspection report that shows the home in perfect condition. Staging your home, including staging with your own furniture, helps reveal the potential of the property. 
  • Determining a selling price starts with a current market report, which examines nearby comparable sales. Suchi then considers interior finishes and fixtures, building amenities, location-specific details and more. 
  • In a luxury market, a property needs to be priced correctly, or it could see few showings and few offers. It’s best to list luxury properties at market value. After three months, a listing can begin to look stale. 
  • In late summer, the market typically slows down. Listing the property slightly under market value can accelerate sales. In the spring, agents may list a little higher than market value, but Suchi recommends listing no higher than 3% above market value.
  • In a multiple-offer situation, the agent’s reputation matters, as do the down payment and proof of funds, closing date, earnest money, and whatever else the buyer brings to the table.
  • Suchi encourages buyers to avoid hiring a discount brokerage, like Redfin, or an agent that offers kickbacks. Redfin agents are part-time and typically paid by the showing, not by the deal, she says. If the buyer chooses to move forward, the deal is handled by a transaction team that has not seen the property. 


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If you loved this episode, here’s another I know you’ll enjoy too! Episode 8: What to Know About Mortgages with Christina Razzi


“Buyers should look at the big picture and ask themselves what their reason is for buying. From there, make a list of priorities for the home, and separate wants and needs lists. Often the highest on the list is location.” 

“Ultimately the selling price of a home is what a buyer is willing to pay for it. Sellers should look for an agent who can place the home in the best light, as a dream home for the right buyer.” 

“A good negotiator is somebody that has educated their clients and shown them the current market analysis and the neighborhood and the trends. This way, the buyer knows what they need to offer to make the deal happen. The agent also should have the knowledge and present the offer with strong terms.” 

“You get the service that you pay for. Full-time agents have the knowledge and focus to ensure deadlines are met.” 

“Work with an agent who will work hard for you and your home. Hiring a full-commission agent rather than a discount agent will give you the best value.” 

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