Once you've made the decision to buy a home, your next step is one of your most important: finding a real estate professional to guide you through the process. A good agent will help you avoid common pitfalls, make wise home investment decisions, and bring order to the entire buying process.
We believe that both the buyer and the seller should have professional representation. If an agent represents you, you're privy to more information and receive the benefit of someone promoting your best interests at all times – usually with no out-of-pocket costs to you.
One of the things to look for in a buyer's agent is their reputation and standing in the community. Realtors know (and are known) favorably in their territories. Because they know the neighborhoods inside and out, they can help you decide which home is right for you.
For example, you might see two houses in the same neighborhood as being identical, but your agent will be well-versed in their differences – no matter how subtle. In addition, even comparable homes may differ in terms of contract, financing, inspection requirements and closing costs. Let your agent help with all the details.
You should also expect your agent to provide you with quick and easy ways to make the home search process more convenient. Look for a buyer's agent who has access to tools that can help you weed through potential homes at your convenience, online. Being able to view property photos, information and details in advance of in-person showings can help save you a great deal of time in the home search process. Technology-savvy agents should provide this type of service as part of their overall offering to you as a client.
What to look for in an agent
An agent actively approaches the home-buying process with enthusiasm, experience and patience. Below is a list of important characteristics found with good agents:
- Work on your behalf to find your new home.
- Research comparable properties to determine a fair price and terms.
- Prepare your Agreement of Purchase and Sale and accompanying legal paperwork, including any necessary disclosure documents.
- Negotiate for the price, terms and conditions that are agreeable to you.
- Accompany you and your home inspector on a thorough property examination.
- Follow up with your Mortgage Lender, Lawyer's Office, Listing Agent and others until the house is legally yours.
Finding the right sales associate involves asking tough questions of yourself and your agent. For example, if you're always on the go and prefer updated listing information via email, ask your prospective real estate agent if she or he is tech-savvy. If you'd prefer a "one-stop shop" where you can get assistance with mortgage, title and relocation needs, consult with an agent at a full-service brokerage company.
Finally, remember to employ an agent with whom you have a rapport. Knowing you're in capable, trusting hands will let you enjoy the excitement of the home-buying process, not agonize over it.