How do I find a trusted real estate agent?
This question is often asked. Well, you rarely hear reports on honest real estate agents in the news because news is about revealing the downsides of society. One hears rather of arrested brokers, scams of millions and all sorts of dirty stories in the building sector. But that's just the case because honesty in the media is mostly not newsworthy.

In fact, about 10 per cent of the real estate agents do 90 per cent of the business, and those top 10 per cent are generally those buyers and sellers can trust. Real estate agents in the Algarve who have a solid position for many years can confirm that they have looked after their buyers and sellers in this small enclave for many years. Especially real estate companies that survived the crisis of 2008 should receive extra attention. Many home buyers and sellers who have negotiated with the top 10 per cent confirm that their real estate agent was experienced and honest, ethical and professional.
Real estate agents are generally more trustworthy than the public would like to believe. But if we think carefully, even brokers can only survive in the long run through repeating business. Of course, they want happy customers, just like any other entrepreneur. And then there's the code of ethics, which should stop unethical behaviour.

Buyers sometimes claim the broker had lied to them. Such a situation is often due to the fact that inexperienced real estate agents are simply telling some nonsense, just to be better off the customer rather than admitting that they do not have the required knowledge.

And then there is the classic twist if your broker claims that another buyer is interested in the same asset and puts pressure on you to decide quickly. My experience has shown that especially properties that have been lingering on the market for a long time suddenly attract the attention of several buyers at the same time. Call it "Murphy's Law", but it does exist. Then it depends on you whether you keep your nerves or let put yourself under pressure. But do not assume that your broker is telling you this just to fool you and force a sale.

If your real estate agent claims that the market is "just right" or that "this offer is a good investment opportunity," it's probably true. After all, that's part of the homework a professional real estate agent should do. Agents generally do not lie about these kinds of things.

What would real estate agents lie about then?
Unfortunately, mostly about themselves. Many emphasize their experience and publish unconfirmed references on their 

websites. But what can you believe? How can you check it? The self-portrayal of agents nowadays is done via websites and
social media. Everyone wants to be at the top of the search engine results, in order to do so they pay copious amounts of money for ads to rank high on Google, Yahoo and Co. All agents make an effort to get you to click on their website before you find a competitor.
You can rightly ask yourself if you can trust the websites of the countless agents in the Algarve. Just because it's launched on the internet, it's not automatically true or correct. Every time I consult the website of a real estate company, I first look at "about us" and often I have to grin, how many of them are using sophisticated rhetorics creating bloated phrases and promises presenting a picture of the perfect broker, while the truthful picture is rather pale and inconspicuous and they won't be able to keep half of the promises.

But how do you nail down such misrepresentations on the website of the agent in the Algarve?

Real estate experience, arguably the most important quality a broker should have. An experienced realtor is more capable of anticipating and solving problems; he or she has learned to deal with any kind of potential difficulties over the years.
In the Algarve - and generally in Portugal - you can easily tell by the number of the AMI license who is new to the business and who is an old hand. If the AMI license has 3 or 4 digits, you're dealing with a long-established broker. If the license has 5 numbers, the broker has just received it.

Property offers. Real estate websites usually show the active listings of the respective broker. But does the broker know the houses he lists? Does he know the owners? Does he know the story behind the house? Is he familiar with the environment? Listings are the backbone of experienced real estate agents. Send them an email and don't hesitate to ask. At the latest, you will recognize whether the broker is familiar with the property at the viewing.

Specialization. Brokers often praise a specification, be it a specific area of the Algarve, a specific type of property, such as view or location, or a specific price range. For example, a broker might present himself as an exclusive specialist in the high-end segment on his website, but has he ever sold a house in this price range? Do all the houses that the specialist advertises for a great view really have one? Are all properties set in a prime location if the respective specialist promises it? With some detective work, you can find out if the broker is bedazzling or projecting an honest picture of himself.