Finding a Real Estate Agent
Choosing the best real estate agent for you
Once you've assessed your spending qualifications, you will need to find a real estate agent to help you find your perfect home. It’s important to choose an agent who is responsive to your needs and can guide you through each step of the home buying process.
Here are a few simple guidelines for finding the right agent for you:
- If you already know the neighborhood where you would like to live, find an agent within that community.
- Seek an experienced agent with a known reputation—look at credentials, track records and awards received.
- Look for someone who is a member of the National Association of REALTORS®.
- Find someone who is continuing their education, like a Certified Residential Specialist, a Certified Residential Broker, a graduate of the REALTORS® Institute or an Accredited Buyer's Representative. This shows the agent is invested in their career and the industry.
- Seek referrals from your family and friends.
- Interview at least three agents before you make your final decision.
If you are being referred to an agent, here are some questions you will want to ask about him or her:
- What were they like to deal with?
- How hard did they work for you?
- Did they get you a good price?
- Were there any complications?
- Did they always tell you the truth?
- Were they always looking out for you or just interested in getting paid?
- Would you use their services again?
Once you’ve narrowed your options to your top three potential agents, ask these questions of your finalists:
- How many buyers have you successfully represented in the last six months?
- Can I have the names and phone numbers of three to six of your most recent buyer clients?
- Do you deal mostly with home buyers or primarily with home sellers?
- Which professional designations do you have?
- Are you fully automated with your own personal computer, fax machine, copier, smartphone, voice mail, etc.?
- What is your commission? Or do you have hourly rates or a set fee?
- Do you have a list of home inspectors, insurance agents and reputable lenders for me to consider?
- Which clauses will be included in our offer to protect us as buyers?
- Will you try to sell me one of your listed properties before you show me listings from other real estate companies?
- Do you have information about For Sale by Owner properties?
- How will you help me save money?
- How will you protect my interests, and why should I hire you rather than another agent?
Now, here are some questions to ask yourself after the final interview of potential agents. The answers to the following questions will increase your chances of choosing the best real estate agent for you and your family.
- Which one returned your phone calls?
- Which one asked questions to determine what you want/need in a home?
- Which one performed a financial analysis to determine how much you can afford?
- Which one suggested financing methods?
- Which one seemed most knowledgeable about the community?
- Which one explained things most clearly?
- Which one did you feel most comfortable with?
Keep in mind, home buyers—you need to search for a real estate agent the same way that home sellers do.
You see, there are two sides to every sale. The seller's side is represented by the listing agent. The buyer's side is represented by the selling agent. The selling agent also is referred to as the buyer's agent. Usually, real estate commissions are paid by the seller. For this reason, the selling agent, although representing the buyer, has certain duties to the seller. If you, as the home buyer, want to have a real estate agent represent only your interests, you will need to hire and pay commission to your own real estate agent. These real estate agents are generally referred to as buyer's agents.
If you call on a single classified advertisement in a newspaper, an ad in a home selling magazine or an online listing, you most likely are calling the listing agent.