When it comes to buying a home, finding a real estate agent is one of the most important steps. A real estate agent can help guide you through the entire process, from searching for homes to closing.
They can provide invaluable advice and guidance, ensuring that the process is as seamless and stress-free as possible.
With so many real estate agents out there, it can be difficult to know where to start when looking for the right one. In this guide, we’ll provide tips on how to find an experienced and reliable real estate agent when you’re ready to buy a home.
Get Approved for a Mortgage
It is wise to speak with a mortgage lender before beginning your home search with a real estate agent.
This is because getting preapproved for a mortgage will inform you of the maximum amount you can borrow and any potential issues that should be addressed early on.
This will help you to focus your search on homes that are within your budget. Additionally, having a preapproval letter will demonstrate to agents and sellers that you are a serious buyer, which is especially important in competitive markets where a preapproval letter may be required for your offer to be considered.
Get referrals from friends and family
Want to find a real estate agent that’s a cut above the rest? Ask around your network for recommendations and look for someone who has experience working with clients similar to yourself.
First-time homebuyers have different needs than repeat buyers or those looking to downsize. And when you find that needle in a haystack of an agent, make sure they’re a “Realtor” with a capital “R” – that means they’re a member of the National Association of Realtors and they’ve agreed to play by the rules.
Bonus points if they have certifications like CRS (Certified Residential Specialist), ABR (Accredited Buyer’s Representative), or SRES (Seniors Real Estate Specialist) – these designations show that they’ve completed additional training in specific areas of expertise.
Research potential Buyers
Ready to find the perfect real estate agent? Start by stalking them online. Check out their website, social media accounts, and online reviews.
A few negative reviews here and there can happen to the best of us, but if they’re piling up, it might be a red flag. And don’t forget to check with your state’s real estate regulator to confirm that they’re licensed and haven’t been up to any shady business.
You could also check in with your local Better Business Bureau’s website to see if they’ve received any complaints. All in all, do your due diligence and you’ll be sure to find the agent of your dreams.
Interview at Least 3 Agents
An interview with a real estate agent is your chance to get to know them better and find out if they’re the right fit for you. You’re looking for an agent who is an expert in your area, and understands your budget and needs.
When you meet with an agent, pay attention to how professional and polished their proposal is. If they put in effort for the interview, they’ll likely put in the same effort when working for you. You want an agent who is savvy and experienced.
Make sure to ask questions like how long they’ve been an agent if they’re a full-time or part-time agent, how many clients they’re currently working with, and how long it typically takes them to help buyers close on a home. It’s also a good idea to ask about the typical price range and neighborhoods of homes they help buyers find, how they help buyers stay competitive in the market, and what their commission fees are.
If you’re a first-time buyer, make sure to ask about their experience helping others in the same boat, and what kind of guidance you can expect during the process. The same goes for other unique situations, like out-of-state relocations and foreclosure purchases.
The interview also gives you a chance to find out the agent’s preferred method of communication and availability. If you prefer texting and want to visit homes after work hours during the week, make sure to find an agent who is comfortable with that too.
Request references, and Check Them
Want to get a feel for an agent’s track record? Ask them to share information about homes they’ve listed and sold in the past year, and provide contact information for a few recent clients.
Give those clients a call and find out about their experiences with the agent, the type of support they provided, and whether they would work with them again in the future. This will give you a good idea of the agent’s capabilities and the level of service they provide.
Take a Close Look at Your Contract
Once you choose a real estate agent, your contract should specify all the terms you have agreed to, such as the real estate commission.
Usually, the seller is responsible for this fee, which is around 6 percent of the house’s sale price. Half of this amount goes to the seller’s agent and the other half goes to your agent.
It is possible to negotiate the commission rate, as the average commission rate is usually lower. Furthermore, consider the length of the contract. If possible, try to keep the contract to a maximum of six months. According to NAR data, homes sold in November 2022 were usually on the market for 24 days. If you haven’t found a house you like within a few months, it would be beneficial to keep your options open.