The perfect broker does not exist. Neither does the perfect client. Here are my ideas about what you should look for when you set out to find a great broker to work with. The more of these traits you discover, the better your chances of safe and profitable investing.

Great brokers deliver great results. Top performers in any field don’t outperform their run-of-the-mill colleagues by a whisker, but by a large margin. San Diego County has 15,000+ agents. In the last generation, there have been more than 10,000 apartment building listings. Only 42% of those apartment listings sold during their listing period. My team’s success rate is 83%.

Top-performing brokers do many things differently. Based on client feedback and my experience, here are the top six qualities of the best brokers.

A great broker puts the client first

This should be true for every broker, but unfortunately, it’s not. You must trust your broker’s professional knowledge, and you must also trust that your broker will put your interests first. If you don’t trust your broker, then you’re wasting everyone’s time. When a crunch decision comes, if you don’t trust the broker you won’t take his or her advice, even if it’s correct or appropriate. If you won’t act on good counsel, then counsel is useless to you.

A great broker knows and tells the truth

Truth is your friend. You may not like the truth, but you need to know it. A great broker will tell you the truth promptly, so you can act on it. A wise broker cares enough to explain what you need to know, not necessarily what you want to hear. A great broker tells the truth because he or she knows that truth is one of the pillars of trust. A single lie or omission of an important fact can bring that pillar crashing down and ruin a relationship.

A great broker, like a master teacher, knows and explains the market and the process

To make wise choices, you need two things.  You need market information. And you need a solid process for identifying, evaluating, buying, operating, and selling properties. Superior brokers will explain how things work so that you have the needed information. Mediocre brokers try to sell rather than partner with or develop a client. They see their role as presenting you with choices that you either accept or reject. A fabulous broker understands the responsibility to help you make a wise choice and become a wiser investor.

A great broker cushions clients from transaction speed bumps and shocks

It would be nice if everything would go smoothly without surprises or problems, but that isn’t the way life is. It’s certainly not the way it is in investment real estate. A top broker warns you about future risks. A competent broker can insulate you from emotional stupidity, no matter who originates it. Setting realistic expectations reduces negative reactions. A great broker will also be your shock absorber. I often get the emotion-filled call or email from the other side of a negotiation. Before I pass it on, I try to remove the flaming emotion and convey the business idea and some polite explanation of other side’s intensity.

Superior brokers routinely achieve remarkable results

You want a brokerage team that has proven how to close more or better or tougher transactions. Third-party awards can give you an idea of who the brokerage community thinks is excellent.  Our team has won eleven county-wide awards for brokerage excellence, more than any other two teams. There is probably a broker with similar stand-out performance in your market.

Our team has some novel approaches that our worthy competition is not yet using. The best coaches have trick plays that are used only on high-stakes situations. You are best served by a team with some innovative techniques that give their client a competitive edge.

A great broker understands what you want and how you want to be remembered

There is a “what” and a “why” to building legacy wealth. The “what” is your investment goal and is related to your wealth. The “why” is about the way you want to be remembered. A terrific broker understands both and helps you achieve them. A champion broker “gets you” and your unique mix of goals and values.

What’s your experience? What do you think makes a great broker?

This post was adapted from the chapter “Team Up with a Great Broker” in Building Legacy Wealth.


Terry Moore, CCIM, is the author of Building Legacy Wealth: How to Build Wealth and Live a Life Worth Imitating. Read his “Welcome to My Blog.