Keys to Selecting the Right Agent
If you're going to buy a home, finding a home that suits your budget, is in the right school district, and has the right floor plan are all important decisions you’ll have to make. Another critical decision you’ll be making is what realtor to choose. You could try to do it alone, but without proper representation, you'll be at a distinct disadvantage negotiating a deal, as well as finding the right house. For your own sake, it's best if you work with an agent.
An agent can help you locate homes for sale in the area you’d like to live in. They can also provide valuable advice during the "looking stage". They’re likely to notice things that you don't which could end up saving you a great deal of money. In addition, chances are there will be an agent representing the seller so you'll definitely want to hire your own agent to look out for your best interests.
Once you’ve decided to retain an agent, the next decision you'll have to make is who to choose. This may not be as easy as you think. You'll need to do some homework to make sure you’ve selected the agent that is right for you. There are a number of questions you should ask when shopping for an agent. Some agents do not list homes for sale exclusively representing buyers. These agents are called "Exclusive Buyer Agents." Since they don’t list homes for sale there is less of a danger of a conflict of interest. You can still retain a buyer’s agent that is also a listing agent. Just be sure to ask whether the agent will be showing you properties that he/she has personally listed. It's best to know these things in advance to prevent further misunderstandings.
Find out how long the agent has been selling real estate. A more experienced agent is likely to give you better service and greater attention to detail. Also, ask how much of the agent's work involves representing buyers. This will give you a clue about whether the agent is likely to ask the right questions throughout the buying process. Ask for references, specifically, the names and phone numbers of several home buyers the agent has represented in the past. Obviously, if the agent is readily willing to give you this information, it shows their confidence and provides some indication of their trustworthiness. Once you have the contact numbers in hand, be sure to make the calls. You can find out whether the agent was responsive, helpful, and knowledgeable. After all, who would know better than the clients they have represented in the past?
Make sure all financial matters are settled with your agent, in writing, before looking at your first house. Find out who will be responsible for paying the real estate commission on the home you purchase. Asking questions in the beginning will help eliminate headaches later.
Find out if the agent has a list of lenders, home inspectors, and contractors that they work with on a consistent basis? It will certainly save you time and probably money, if your agent supplies this information rather than trying to find it yourself. The answer to this question will also give you an idea as to whether the agent is knowledgeable about the local real estate community.
Finally, be sure to interview more than one agent before deciding on one that suits you best. You're more likely to find the right agent if you have more than one to choose from.