Choosing a Real Estate Agent
How to Find the Right Agent for You
Buying a home can be a challenging journey – especially if it’s your first time on the market. For this reason, many people choose to enlist the services of a qualified real estate agent to help navigate these waters. Because you’ll come to rely on this person to help you through many complicated issues, it’s important to spend some time finding the agent that best meets your needs. Don’t just choose the first person whose advertisement you see or, worse, the person whose picture is on the “For Sale” sign of the house you’ve fallen in love with.
Enlist Your Own Agent
If this is your first time buying a home, you might be wondering, “Why shouldn’t I just call up the agent that’s pictured on the For Sale sign? Wouldn’t that be easier for everyone involved?” What most people don’t realize is that there are typically two agents involved in a real estate transaction – one representing the buyer and one representing the seller. The agent listed on the For Sale sign is representing the seller, and he or she is contractually obligated to look out for the seller’s best interests.
What this means is that if you approach this person to represent you as well and you tell the agent how much you can afford to spend on your new home, the agent is required to report that back to the seller. Obviously, you want someone who’s going to look out for you in that way. You need a buyer’s agent – but how do you go about choosing one?
Look for Someone with Experience
Now, this isn’t to say that there aren’t plenty of young, up-and-coming agents out there, but if you’re a first-time homebuyer, you really need to find someone with experience – not just as a real estate agent, but also with the market where you’ll be buying. An experienced agent will know more about the different homebuyer incentive programs available today, as well as how the neighborhoods in your target city have changed over time. Experienced agents have also been through more transactions than their newer colleagues, so they’ll be better prepared to help you through any unusual situations you may experience.
Ask for Referrals
The easiest way to find a good, experienced agent is to ask friends and coworkers which agents they’ve worked with in the past and whether or not they would recommend them to you. Any agent can put together a great looking website or make bold claims in their advertising materials, so you need to go off of more than just paper. If possible, get recommendations for several different agents and then set up consultations with each agent individually. Take the time to prepare some questions ahead of time and give the agent as much information about your housing needs as possible to see what he or she can come up with. You’ll likely find that one is a better fit for your personality and your needs throughout the home buying process.