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Buying a home is a big deal, and it’s one of the most important financial decisions you’ll ever make. Finding an experienced real estate agent to guide you through the process when you’re ready to buy is critical.
There are plenty of real estate agents fighting for the job, with online ads, newspaper listings, and yard signs all contending for the position. However, with so many professionals to select from, it can be difficult to locate the correct one. To ensure that you hire the best real estate agent for your purchase, here follow these advice on how to find a real estate agent.
1. Get a mortgage preapproval first.
Before speaking with a mortgage lender, some home buyers engage a real estate agent and begin their property hunt. However, it’s a good idea to speak with a lender beforehand to figure out how much you can pay.
Preapproval for a mortgage detects any concerns that need to be addressed early in the process and tells you of the maximum amount you can borrow. This allows you to limit your search to homes in your price range. It will also demonstrate to prospective real estate brokers (and sellers) that you are a serious buyer. For sellers to evaluate your offer in today’s competitive marketplaces, you’ll need a preapproval letter.
2. Seek out recommendations from friends and family.
Request recommendations from people in your network who have worked with a reputable real estate agent. You want someone who has worked with clients who are comparable to you in the past. For example, the needs of first-time buyers differ from those of repeat buyers or homeowners wishing to downsize.
Look for a Realtor — with a big R — in a real estate agent. That they are a member of the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and have pledged to follow the organization’s code of ethics. Some Realtors have credentials demonstrating that they have completed training in a specific area of real estate. The following are some examples of titles:
Make sure you understand the difference between a buyer’s agent and a seller’s agent. In a real estate transaction, a buyer’s agent represents the buyer, while a seller’s or listing agent is in charge of the seller’s side, which includes pricing, marketing, and negotiating the conditions of the sale.
A single real estate agent can sometimes operate as both the buyer’s and seller’s agent, a process known as dual agency. Some states don’t allow dual agency, and it comes with its own set of risks, so bear that in mind if you’re thinking about agreeing to it.
You can also come across an agent who works as a referral agent, which means that for a charge, the agent provides leads to other agents.
3. Conduct background checks on possible individuals
Examine an agent’s online presence first. Examine the agent’s website as well as his or her social media sites. Also, take a peek at their internet reviews. One or two unfavorable reviews aren’t a big deal, but more than that could be a red flag.
Check with your state’s real estate authority to see if an agent you’re considering is licensed and if they’ve had any disciplinary measures. Check the website of your local Better Business Bureau to discover whether any of the prospects you’re interviewing have received any complaints.
While you’re doing your research to discover the ideal agent, make a wish list and a list of must-haves for what you’re looking for in a property.
4. Conduct at least three interviews with real estate agents.
An interview is your chance to gain a sense of the agent’s personality and background. Finally, you want someone who is knowledgeable about a specific subject and is aware of your budget and requirements.
“Look at how polished and professional their proposal is,” says Katherine Hutt, president and creator of Nautilus Communications and former BBB chief communications officer. “The more time and effort they spend into a presentation for you, the more time and effort they’ll put into presentations while working for you.” You need someone with a lot of experience.”
How long have they been a real estate agent, how many customers do they now have, and how long do they generally work with buyers to close on a home are all good questions to ask. It’s also a good idea to inquire about the typical price range and neighborhoods of homes they typically assist buyers in locating, as well as how they assist buyers in remaining competitive in this market and what their commission fees are.
You can also learn about the agent’s preferred form of communication and availability during the interview. If you prefer texting and anticipate to visit properties after work hours during the week, for example, you’ll want an agent who is willing to do the same.
5. Get references — and double-check them.
Request information on houses listed and sold in the last year from any agents you’re considering, as well as contact information for at least a few recent clients. Make contact with those clients to learn about their experiences and the level of support provided by the agent throughout the process, including during the negotiations. Inquire if they would use the same agent for their next real estate transaction.
6. Trust your instincts.
The skill of an agent to lead you smoothly through the procedure is just as crucial as their expertise and experience. Above all, choose an agent you can trust and with whom you will feel at ease if the path to closing becomes rocky.
“It’s like dating,” Herman Chan, an associate broker and Realtor with Golden Gate Sotheby’s International Realty in Berkeley, California, explains. “Don’t go with that individual if everything checks out but you just don’t vibe with them.” There are plenty of other real estate agents that will gladly assist you and may be a better personality match.”
7. Examine your contract thoroughly.
Your contract should spell out all of the terms to which you’ve agreed, including the real estate commission, once you’ve chosen an agent. Traditionally, the seller pays 6% of the home’s sale price in commissions, with half going to their own agency and the other half to the buyer’s agent. However, the commission rate is often negotiable, with the average commission falling just under 6%, according to an EffectiveAgents analysis.
Another thing to consider is the contract’s duration. Aim for a contract that lasts no more than six months. According to the National Association of Realtors, selling a property in today’s competitive seller’s market can take just 20 days – or less. It’s beneficial to keep your options open if you haven’t found the property you want in a few months.
Why is it important to hire the right real estate agent?
The appropriate real estate agent can make all the difference in today’s hyper-competitive home market. You want someone you can trust and feel at ease with, someone who will look out for your best interests throughout the process. The more familiar a buyer’s agent is with a given location, the more likely they are to lead you to the correct house at the right price, on time, and within your budget.