Indiana natives Ben and Alexis Smith didn’t have to scour the web through lists of Tennessee real estate agents. When they were looking to buy their first home in the area, there was no doubt who they would enlist to lead their home buying team.

“We found our realtor through a friend who recommended an agent to us,” Alexis said. “So we started our research by looking her up.”

Trent Kathrein, local Buyer’s Expert with The Huffaker Group of Keller Williams, said referrals lead many people to a real estate agent. But, there are other ways home buyers find realtors, the most common being through the house itself. For example, The Huffaker Group of Keller Williams represents homes currently on the market. According to Kathrein, interested buyers will contact the agent associated with a particular listing. Agents field their questions and manage viewings and tours.

When you connect with a real estate agent by phone, email, or through an in-person meeting, it does not always develop into a working relationship. Other factors influence whether or not you will trust an agent to guide you through one of life’s biggest investments.

“Referrals help a lot to get a potential client in the door to meet with a real estate agent, but the ultimate key is showing that you are knowledgeable and professional,” Kathrein said.

Alexis and Ben found their realtor through a referral, but they decided to work with her because of her experience, personality, and ability to negotiate with sellers.

“When we knew we had found the home we wanted, she gave her best advice on what to say and pay to the seller so we could seal the deal,” Alexis said.

Skills to Look for in Tennessee Real Estate Agents

With nearly 36,000 certified real estate agents across the state, it can seem nearly impossible to determine which team or agent might best support your interests. Kathrein has been in the real estate industry for more than eight years, six of which were done in partnership with a financial institution in Illinois. He assists individuals in all parts of the home buying process, from securing a property within their means to finding appropriate financing through institutions like US Community Credit Union. Through feedback from a wide range of clients, he has discovered four skills good real estate agents have, which can make buying a home easier.


Kathrein recommends selecting a real estate agent based on your needs. Some people confine their search to a single neighborhood for commuting purposes. Others have children, and want to be in a certain school system. Many look for a specific type of home or building style. Be sure to find an agent who is an expert in the areas that matter most to you. An infinite amount of variables are involved in any given real estate transaction. It’s not uncommon for unexpected circumstances to arise during the inspection report, appraisal, lending arrangement, and more. Without an experienced agent on your side, Kathrein believes you could be at a disadvantage in a transaction.

Buyers and sellers have varying needs when it comes to utilizing a real estate agent. Both will need to have an agent representing their interests. If you don’t have a home to sell, Katherin suggests working with a buyer’s agent. This type of real estate agent specializes in purchasing homes. Like a foot soldier, this agent is on the front lines. They regularly view homes, handle multiple offer situations, and build contracts for home buyers.

Maybe you do have a home to sell. In that case, a seller’s agent might be your best bet. An agent with a seller’s point of view is better equipped to assess the current housing market and choose a correct starting price for your home. They also specialize in marketing your property and negotiating offers as you proceed through the selling process.

If you are both selling and buying a home, Katherin suggests finding a more robust team or group that can rally agents to fit all of your needs.

“That way you have one agent fully focused on finding your next home and getting that locked down while the seller’s agent is focused on getting the home sold and working together to make it a smooth transition from one to the other,” he said.


Experience plays an important role, in Kathrein’s opinion, especially as it relates to availability. The average Zillow listing in Nashville lasted 65 days in the first quarter of 2019. In the past, however, homes have sold even quicker, sometimes spending only a few days on the market.

“You need to make sure your agent can be available to get you into that home quickly and put together an offer before someone else has a chance to beat you to it,” he said.

Many people put off finding a real estate agent until they have found the perfect home. In the Nashville market, that can be a risky strategy. If you don’t have a plan in place for when you do find the perfect home, you could miss your chance to put in a competitive offer. A real estate agent crafts a customized plan for managing situations like getting pre-approved for a loan, finalizing appointments to view the home when there isn’t an open house, and going after a home having multiple offers. The first step in any home buying situation is obtaining pre-approval. USCCU allows you to apply for pre-approval with a quick turnaround, and we contact your agent with the details for you.

Some may feel like they are taking advantage of a real estate agent if they solicit their help prior to finding a home they are interested in buying. Contrary to that line of thinking, Kathrein believes it’s never too early to reach out to a real estate agent.

“A good agent will want to help you decide if making a move is the right decision in the first place,” he said.

The average person doesn’t come across real estate terms and dissect market reports on a daily basis. What is the appreciation of homes? How are you impacted by changes in interest rates? What is the cost of breaking a lease? A real estate agent is capable of delivering answers to those questions, on top of creating a home buying or selling strategy putting you in the best possible position.


Getting a mutually beneficial deal on a house is more than settling on a fair price and flexible terms. During a transaction, you may encounter the need for major home repairs or with new construction, a vendor may accidentally deliver a product too early. As a home buyer, you will need cooperation from the seller in order to meet your ideal end objective.

“Having someone to not only be tough, but also tactful in order to get the other side on board makes things run more smoothly,” Kathrein said.

With a real estate agent who is a powerful negotiator on your team, you can increase the possibility you will achieve the outcomes you desire.

People Management

Buying or selling a home is a pivotal moment in any person’s life. For that reason, you need a real estate agent who can not just walk, but also talk you through the ups and downs of a transaction.

“I think the best type of personality is someone that can be both firm and also nurturing,” Kathrein mentioned. “It is sometimes necessary to have a tough conversation that is against what [the client] thinks (i.e. [the client] wanting to list their house higher than it should be), and it really is in their best interest to listen to [the agent’s] advice.”

Have open and honest conversations with the real estate agents you review in Tennessee. Tell them what you expect out of the collaboration. Express your wishes, and ensure the person on the other side of the desk understands you.

The Path to Your Dream Home

Now that you know what to look for when reviewing real estate agents in Tennessee, set yourself up for even more success! Start the journey to your dream home by getting pre-approved for a home loan. US Community Credit Union (USCCU) offers mortgages with flexible term lengths and low interest rates. We’re a not-for-profit institution, so all of the money we do make goes back to you in the form of cost-effective loan products. Get reliable information and access to better deals by contacting a USCCU representative today!