The Right Real Estate Agent
If you're considering buying a home, you may have a number of things on
your mind: finding a house that suits your budget, locating a house in
the right school district, deciding on the right floor plan. While all
of these things are important, the single most critical decision you have
to make when home shopping is which Realtor you will choose. It's true,
you could go it alone, but without proper representation, you'll be at
a distinct disadvantage, not only in negotiating a deal, but also in finding
the right house.
For your sake and the sake of your family, it's best if you work with an
agent. An agent can help you locate properties for sale in the areas you
want to live and may even be able to recommend some areas you haven’t
considered yet. He or she can also provide valuable insight during the "looking
stage". Your agent is likely to notice things that you don't and therefore
could end up saving you a great deal of money. In addition, since chances
are the seller will be represented by an agent, you'll want an agent there
to look out for your best interests.
Once you make the decision to retain an agent, the next decision you'll
have to make is which agent to choose. This is not as easy as it might
appear. You'll want to do more than just flip through a phone book to find
a name. You'll need to do some homework to make sure you select an agent
who's right for you.
Find out how long the agent has been in the field. 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 about
a half dozen buyers the agent has represented in the last six months. If
the agent is readily willing to give you this information, it shows his
or her confidence and provides some indication of trustworthiness. Once
you have contact information in hand, be sure to follow up by making calls
or sending an email. You can find out whether the agent was responsive,
helpful, and knowledgeable. And who would know better than the clients
he or she has represented?
In addition, ask the agent about credentials. Has the agent had specific
training related to the unique needs of buyers? Does he or she hold special
accreditation? Any agent who is not willing to share this information with
you is probably not worth dealing with.
Another important question is whether the agent has a list of lenders,
home inspectors, and contractors that he or she likes to work with. It
will certainly save you time, and probably money, if you can rely on your
agent to supply this information rather than trying to hunt it down yourself.
The answer to this question will also give you an idea as to whether the
agent is knowledgeable about the community.