This article was originally published in Real Estate Agent Magazine Twin Cities, written by Charity Malmberg, Founder and President of Trademark Title


When it comes to selling a home, often major repairs, even some remodels, are a necessary first step to making a home “market-ready.” Additionally, some clients actually purchased a home with the intent to remodel and resell. Whatever the case, your client needs a reliable contractor to help them out.

Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to know where to look for good, honest work. It’s vital that you, as their agent, know how to point them in the right direction. The list below is designed to be a resource for your clients looking to sell, but not sure where or how to find the right contractor for them.

Tips And Tricks To Finding The ‘Right’ Contractor

Learn some tips and tricks from professionals in the field about what makes a good contractor and how to find the right fit for your client. You can give your clients this list and perhaps add the contact info of few contractors that your previous clients have worked with and loved.

  1. Look for the proper paperwork …

Licensure, references and insurance certificates should all be part of what you expect when interviewing a potential contractor.

“You’ll need to contact your county offices to research what is required for home improvement contractors in your state and in your county,” says Debra Cohen of Home Referral Network. “I also recommend that the contractor you hire have a minimum of $1 million in general liability insurance. Be sure to get a copy of his license and insurance for your records.”

  1. … and passion!

“There are a lot of builders and remodelers to choose from,” says Lunn. “Most of those can provide you with a license, references and insurance certificates. Those should be a given. Beyond that, pick someone (or a team) that has an obvious passion for his/her work!”

  1. Read (legitimate) reviews

Online reviews can be super helpful, but unfortunately, reviews can be easy to fake.

“You want someone with a high quantity of good reviews versus just one or two, and reviews where you are seeing some of the same qualities repeated: on time, on budget, good quality, good experience,” says Julie Lunn of Constructive Builders. “We like or Angie’s List for sources of reviews that can’t easily be falsified by the company owners.”

  1. Check in with previous customers

Beyond just reading reviews, ask your contractor for same names and numbers of previous clients, says Cohen.

“Call each reference and ask the homeowner what they liked and didn’t like about the contractor. Ask if the final cost of the job exceeded his estimate and if he completed the work in a neat and timely fashion. Most importantly, ask them if they would hire the contractor again.”

  1. Expect organization

“A lot of great crafts people just aren’t great at time management or money management,” says Lunn. “Do they have an office person to help with some details outside of building? Do they seem organized and take notes when you meet?”

You’re hiring a professional, so you can expect organization.

  1. Be wary of scams

If a contractor seems overly zealous for your business, especially after a major storm or home catastrophe, don’t be too quick to sign on the dotted line, Lunn warns. Additionally, look out for large initial deposits.

“Also, if anyone asks for a lot of money in advance, I’d be forceful in renegotiating payment terms.”

  1. Details matter

Along with being organized, you want a contractor who isn’t afraid to dive into the details and answer your specific questions.

“If your contractor is hesitant to put the details of your job in writing, consider it a red flag,” says Cohen. “Also, in addition to getting a written cost estimate for the job, ask the contractor to document details about the type of materials he plans to use, his anticipated start date, project schedule and completion date.”

  1. Be sure your personalities are compatible

If you know you’re the “hands-on” or the “leave-it-to-the-professionals” type, you need to let your contractor know.

“The best way to find out if you and your contractor’s personalities are a good fit is to be upfront about how involved you’d like to be on your renovation,” says Cohen. “If your approaches aren’t compatible, it’s a good sign that he might not be the right person for the job.”

  1. Go with your gut

Don’t underestimate the power of your intuition. This person or team is going to be present in your home and around your family, so feeling comfortable is more than just a commodity.

“Go with your gut and don’t settle until you’ve found a remodeler you feel comfortable with,” says Lunn.

  1. Have realistic expectations

You are not the only one seeking out well-respected and talented contractors, so being reasonable with your expectations and planning ahead will set you up for a better experience.

“Be reasonable, plan as far ahead as you can to get on a quality contractor’s schedule, and be a good partner, just as you expect your contractor to be a good partner for you,” says Lunn.