Buying a home is a significant financial decision, perhaps one of the biggest you will make in your life. It is essential to choose a real estate agent that can guide you through and help streamline the process for you.
The good news is the real estate market is teeming with Realtors, as you might already know through all the newspaper listings, online ads, and yard signs all around. The real challenge is picking, from among a vast number of real estate professionals, someone who is reliable, knowledgeable, connected, and truly grasps your buying situation. Below are tips in finding a real estate agent who will work well with you in making your investment.
But before kicking off the search for your best-fit real estate agent, it’s advisable that you get pre-approved for a mortgage, should you be making the purchase through a loan. This determines your budget and any financial or fiscal issues that you may have to confront.
Ask for referrals from family and friends
Ask around for recommendations from individuals who have had positive experience with a real estate agent. Focus on feedback from people who are quite similar to you (such as in budget, challenges, or if you’re a first-time buyer, etc.), and have successfully purchased a home.
Stick to professional Realtors
It is ideal to only deal with a real estate agent with accreditation. Look for someone who is a member of the National Association of Realtors (or NAR) or similar trade associations who abide by a code of ethics. A number of Realtors will also have various certifications in particular areas of real estate.
Understand buyer’s agents vs. seller’s agents
There is a difference between a Realtor who acts as a buyer’s agent and one who acts as a seller’s agent (or listing agent). The variance lies in the party which the agent represents in a transaction. As the buyer, you will, of course, need a real estate agent who will act in your best interest.
There are individual real estate agents who work for both parties, known as dual agents. You should know that certain states do not allow this practice and working with dual agencies may pose some risk to either the buyer or the seller. Keep this in mind before entering into a transaction with this set-up.
Background-check your potential candidates
Once you have short-listed a few candidates, get online and examine their digital presence. A good real estate agent will have a portfolio of successful transactions published online. Also, you may also find service reviews by other clients who have worked with them. A couple of negative reviews may be normal, but anything more may be considered a red flag.
Get in touch with real estate regulators in your location. This is a good place to find out if the agent you’re considering is duly licensed or have any disciplinary notes on their record. Remember to check the website of your local Better Business Bureau, as well.
Interview your candidates
After doing your research, schedule interviews with your top candidates. Actual in-person interaction provides more insight than just credentials on record. This will also give you and your candidates a chance to discuss your needs and determine if they are equipped or skilled to help you with any unique issues to your home purchase.
Ask them about years of experience, as well as fields of specialization they might have. Also, ask about how long a typical transaction lasts, with their assistance.
Interviewing a candidate can also help you learn more about their availability and communication methods or process. See if they can match yours. Interview at least three candidates before making a decision.
A knowledgeable and experienced agent is only half the battle. Just as essential is their ability to guide you seamlessly from beginning to closing on your home. Go with your gut; surely you will feel more comfortable with someone over the others. Aside from finding good chemistry with an agent, you will tell if someone can be relied upon to see things through even in the face of bumps on the road to home ownership.