So you’ve saved up your down payment, and you’re ready to start looking for your first home? Choosing the right real estate agent to help you find what you’re looking for is an important variable in the purchase equation. While the housing market is awash with agents, there are essentially only two types; each one plays a different role in the real estate transaction.
Seller’s Agent Vs. Buyer’s Agent
Seller’s Agent: This agent lists the house and works for the seller. In this role, the agent provides information about the buyers, help with pricing the property, and advises the seller during negotiations. The seller’s agent works to get the seller the highest possible price and the best terms available.
Buyer’s Agent: This agent works for the buyer. The agent assists the buyer through the purchasing process from finding the home to the closing of the deal. They help the buyer make offers and negotiates on their behalf.
As a buyer, it would be in your best interest to work with a buyer’s agent.
What The Buyer’s Agent Will Do
- Negotiate with the seller and their agent to obtain the lowest price for you;
- be an advisor and counselor on the home buying process;
- have access to and show all available properties currently on the market, even those not listed on the Multiple Listing Service;
- determine the value of a property, and
- work in your best interest as well as investigate situations that may interfere with that.
How To Find A Buyer’s Agent
Now that you know why you should work with a buyer’s agent, how do you find one?
- Friends and Family: Someone in the closer or extended social circles you frequent may have purchased a home recently and had a positive experience. They can refer you to an agent. You may also find out that someone within that circle might actually be a real estate agent.
- Internet: Local brokers and agents usually have websites you can review. Review sites are useful sources of information about local agents.
- Open Houses: Should you attend an open house and leave your information there, an agent will be contacting you. Before you decide to work with them, however, be sure to research them as best you can.
How To Vet Your Agent
Even a buyer’s agent found through a trusted source needs to be vetted. Check the state licensing board to make sure their license is in good standing. You can also find out whether any complaints have been filed against this agent. Checking online reviews is another worthwhile resource.
To determine if they are the right agent for you, you should ask them these important questions:
- “What is your client load and how much time do you have to dedicate to me?”
(Someone who has worked a while with a sizable number of clients will more than likely know the market and be well versed in current real estate law.)
- “Do you have references from clients you’ve worked with?”
(Talking with an agent’s former clients can give you a good idea if the agent is right for you. You can find out how the agent works, how they relate to their clients and other parties as well how satisfactory their service has been.)
- “How many sales have you had in my target neighborhoods?”
(This will reveal their knowledge of the market. The more sales the agent has had, the more information they will have amassed about your target areas such as demographics, crime, transportation, shopping, and other information.)
- “What’s your fee?”
(The buyer’s agent usually receives about 2-3% of the purchase price in commission. The seller determines this, so you want transparency regarding the amount. There is potential for conflict of interest if the agent is more interested in receiving his commission than helping you find the right home.)
- “What services do you offer?”
Most agents negotiate and handle escrow, but the best agents provide more. Look for someone who will also analyze your needs and the market conditions to help you create a home shopping plan. The agent should also take you on property tours, coordinate your attorney, lender, inspectors and others on your team.
A home purchase is a major financial commitment, and you want to make the best choice. While inevitably exciting, the purchase process can become very stressful if you don’t have all the necessary and correct information at your disposal. With the right agent working both with you and on your behalf, finding your dream home will be just so much easier!