There could be hundreds of realtors in your area, so how do you know who to call to help you find your first home? There are a few ways to begin your search.
• Ask family and friends who they would recommend
• Read reviews online
• Attend a few open houses so you can meet realtors
• Find ads online or in the newspaper
• Walk into a local office
• Look for local realtors in your neighborhood by paying attention to For Sale signs in the neighborhood.
It might be best to listen to referrals and reviews versus going into an office blind. You really want to click with the realtor you choose because you will be spending some time together. Plus, you want them to be trustworthy and have your best interest. After all, this is the largest purchase you will probably ever make.
Ask the Right Questions
Before you begin the process of looking at houses you will want to ask your realtor a few questions to make sure they are a good fit for you. Here are the five best questions to ask:
1. Are you a certified realtor? (While all agents need to be licensed in your state, not all of them belong to the National Association of Realtors.)
2. How long have you been in the real estate business in this area?
3. Which neighborhoods are you most familiar with?
4. How many homes do you have that will fit my needs?
5. What is your typical commission on a home in my price range?
When you ask these questions, are they honest and complete answers? Are they looking you in the eye? The answers should come quickly but not be a standard salesperson answer. If you are not comfortable, you are not obligated to stay with this realtor. Also, if they do not have any properties that match, they may recommend you to another colleague in their group.
Other things you should pay attention to when speaking with your realtor include:
• How well they listened to you when describing the home you are looking for.
• How well they understand current real estate law
• How many clients they have worked with or currently have
• How they speak to their colleagues
• How often they communicate with you
Make sure it feels right to you before you come to an agreement.
More than likely you will enter an agreement with the realtor and sign some paperwork that says you will only work with that agency or individual during your search. You are under no obligation to sign this paperwork and only do so if you feel confident in the realtor you have chosen.The agreements are not totally binding but can make things difficult later on so make sure you are comfortable.
Types of Agents
You will find a variety of types of agents that will want to work with you including:
• Hard working
It is your decision which type you are willing to work with.
Experienced vs. New
The experience agent may have sold more homes, but the new agent may work harder. Both can be helpful to you. So when you are interviewing them, consider other traits that will be important during the process such as their ability to listen and only show you homes in your price range.
Both experienced and new agents are trained the same way but have different personalities.
Beware of the agent that wants to sell you more home than you need or want to buy. They may be more interested in the commission than in your best interest. Stand firm and don’t waste your time looking at properties beyond your price range unless they are lowering the price.
Looking at homes can be fun, but wasting your time looking at homes out of your price range or in undesirable locations, will eventually exhaust you. If this happens you may consider finding another agent.
This agent shows you a few homes and then does not communicate for a few weeks. They may be overworked and distracted. Or maybe they cannot find a home in your price range or desired location. Higher commission opportunities may also have presented themselves. This is unprofessional behavior and you may want to find another agent.
If your agent is not able to find what you want, they need to direct you to someone else in their group who can.
Hard Working Agents
Of course these are the best to find. If you find one when buying your first home, don’t lose them. They will follow up and do their best to find you a home. In fact, expect to see many homes with this type of agent.
Now its time to start your search. Create a list of questions on a sheet of paper if needed and conduct your interviews. You don’t need to work with the first one you see, nor do you have to work with the one recommended by your neighbor. Find one that best fits your needs and personality.
Enjoy the journey of buying your first home!