How to Find the Right Real Estate Agent for You
Sometimes the most difficult part of buying a home is simply knowing where to start. That’s why it’s crucial to have a team of professionals guiding you every step of the way. Your real estate agent and mortgage lender should be educated, informed, and willing to find the ideal long-term solution that meets your wants and needs.
So, where do you begin? Should you get a loan? Talk with an agent? Let’s break it down.
Start with a Lender
The first step toward owning the home of your dreams is knowing exactly what you can afford. This is why you should meet with a lender before doing anything else. Having a good idea of what homes are within your budget will save you time, and possibly money, in the end.
Not to mention, having an approval letter from a lender can increase your bargaining and buying power when it comes time to make an offer, especially in bigger cities and booming markets.
Do Your Research
If your lender is local, they’ll most likely have a list of recommended real estate agents in your area. If not, then this is the time to reach out to friends, family, people on social media, etc. You can also use search engines to look for highly-rated agents, such as Zillow or Yelp.
When searching, it’s important to know the difference between a real estate agent and a Realtor. (That’s right— there’s a difference.) You’ve most likely heard these two terms used interchangeably, but there are actually distinctive requirements for each role.
A real estate agent is a professional who has obtained a real estate license to assist in the buying and selling of properties. In some cases, agents will have a specific focus, either listing or buying.
A Realtor, on the other hand, is a real estate agent who is also an active member of the National Association of Realtors (NAR). Agents within this organization are required to adhere to an extensive Code of Ethics, which can be an attractive quality to buyers who want to know the agent they’re working with has their best interest in mind.
Interview Your Agents
Once you’ve found a few agents that meet your basic standards, it’s a good idea to interview them. This is your opportunity to learn more about the agent’s style, personality, and willingness to work with you.
You’ll want to hit on these topics while interviewing potential agents:
How long have you been in the business? A young agent could have more time to focus on your transaction, but most real estate agents learn as they go. A seasoned agent will have experience more speedbumps and will know how to avoid them.
What is your intended strategy to buy/sell my house? As a buyer, you need to know how willing your agent is to spend time searching for a home that meets your needs. As the seller, it wouldn’t hurt to know ahead of time what their average listing price to sales price ratio is. Does their selling strategy support your financial needs, and if not, do you need to reconsider?
Can you provide a list of references? Any agent worth their salt will have a long list of references willing to speak on behalf of them.
How much do you charge? Most real estate agent fees are negotiable. According to TheBalance, agents will typically charge from 1% to 6% to represent one side of a transaction, either the seller or the buyer. A listing agent might charge 3.5% for herself and another 3.5% for the buyer’s agent, for a total of 7%. Percentages will vary. Keep in mind, a top agent might charge more for their services.
At the end of the day, you should go with an agent that you trust and know will help you in any way possible. But don’t forget to:
- Review your contract
- Double-check any references
- Take time to consider all options
Ready to begin the journey to homeownership? Contact a Mortgage Advisor today to learn about your next steps.home buying process, questions for your realtor, real estate agent