Homebuyers face a dizzying array of hoops to jump through, with mortgage pre-approval and hiring a home inspector as just a few examples. However, throughout your search for the home of your dreams, one party will consistently be at your side: your real estate agent. As such, the agent you pick will tremendously impact your journey to find a home. So, if you’re wondering how to choose a realtor, here are seven things to consider.
A financial advisor can help you create a financial plan for your home buying needs.
Factors to Consider When Selecting a Realtor
Your real estate agent will be working with you for countless hours and negotiating on your behalf with the seller. As your helper and advocate in your home search, your realtor’s character and quality of work are critical to your efforts. Here are seven specific things to look for in your agent:
Good communication skills. Going from an open house to closing day will be almost impossible without clear, consistent communication between you and your agent. Additionally, relaying information to the seller and their agent is crucial.
If your agent doesn’t disclose all relevant information to you or seems unsure about what the seller wants, you may want to work with someone else. Poor communication slows down the home buying process, and in today’s fast-moving housing market, acquiring accurate information and acting on it quickly is essential.
Strong knowledge about the community you’re interested in. Housing trends and dynamics can differ depending on the market you’re searching in. For example, if you’re buying in the country as opposed to the city, property lines and your water source may come into play with the houses you view.
It pays to start asking questions early. See how much your agent knows. The realtor’s familiarity with the area, how long houses usually stay on the market, and average sale prices can be crucial for your home search.
Reliable experience. An agent’s experience isn’t just how long they’ve been in the real estate industry. Ideally, it signifies their ability to make the home buying process speedy and smooth. Therefore, finding an agent with abundant experience with the kind of home you’re looking for is a good idea.
Personal rapport. Nothing can substitute for feeling seen and understood by your agent, especially if a seller rejects your offer. You’ll be working with your agent for weeks, if not months, and it’s beneficial to build a connection with the person trying to find you the right home and negotiate on your behalf. If you feel ignored or unheard, it may be time to work with someone else.
Positive reviews. If you’re going out to eat, you check the restaurant’s reviews – why not for your real estate agent? A majority of overwhelmingly good feedback is an encouraging sign for an agent. As you look, resist the temptation to glance through. Instead, read what people have said. Clients with no complaints indicate an agent who does an excellent job.
Additionally, if there are some less-than-stellar reviews, identify what the client says the problem was. Buying a home can be stressful for anyone, and some people’s grievances may be universal to trying to purchase a home.
Awards and licensing. It is illegal for an agent to sell real estate without an up-to-date license. A license indicates that the person has undergone the professional education and testing your state requires. Additionally, real estate agents must complete continuing education courses to renew their license.
Search your state’s database to check your agent’s profile. If they have a problematic track record, they might not be able to serve your needs. Conversely, the database shows any awards your agent may have won over the years, which is always a plus.
No red flags. Even if an agent looks good on paper, you might have alarm bells go off in your head upon working with them. For example, an agent who pressures you to buy a home you’re currently walking through and still deciding on might not have your best interests at heart.
In addition, it’s possible that your agent is excellent at their job but isn’t used to looking at homes in your price range. It’s recommended to find an agent who is familiar with the kind of home you’re looking for and understands how to meet your needs.
How to Find a Good Realtor
Now that you know what to look for in a real estate agent, the next step is to find one who fits your needs. The following methods can help you get in touch with the agent who is ready to help you find your dream home.
- Utilize technology. You can streamline many steps in your home search with online agent-matching tools, virtual tours, mortgage calculators, and open house calendars. Additionally, websites like Realtor.com and social media such as Facebook are great ways to connect with real estate professionals.
- Get suggestions from friends and family. Sometimes, the best leads will come from your inner circle. While looking at reviews online can be helpful, nothing speaks louder than a recommendation from someone you trust.
- Drive through the neighborhoods you’re interested in moving to. When you see a house for sale, note the listing agent and their contact information. By calling them directly, you guarantee you’ll be working with someone familiar with the area and ready to help you.
- Ask your mortgage lender. Lenders may have relationships with agents with a track record of helping previous clients.
- Be thorough. It’s a good idea to interview at least three agents to better understand who can best serve your needs. One agent might have strengths in areas that won’t help your home search.
Can You Buy a Home Without a Realtor?
If you’re considering trying to buy a home without an agent, the benefits are essentially nonexistent. As a buyer, you don’t have to pay to use an agent – instead, they make a commission on closing. Additionally, sellers might be unwilling to work with a buyer who doesn’t have an agent.
Since finding an agent can seem like an extra step in the already taxing process of finding a home, remember that you’re working with an agent for their expertise and guidance. Their knowledge of recent comparable sales in the area and available homes is invaluable and saves you a lot of work. If you’re a first-time home buyer, an agent is a superb resource for everything from finding showings to negotiating with a stubborn seller.
Selecting a real estate agent is a little like picking a spouse. While you may not be making a lifelong commitment with your agent, you want someone trustworthy, supportive, and who looks out for your best interests. Also, since buying a home can take months, it’s a good idea to find someone you enjoy working with and who is sensitive to your needs.
The internet and the people you trust most are excellent sources for finding a real estate agent. In addition, it’s critical to interview multiple agents to get a sense of who you’d like to work with. While it is possible to buy a home without a real estate agent, it is not recommended. A real estate agent will help you navigate what is often a challenging, stress-inducing endeavor.
Home Buying Tips
- A financial advisor can help you create a financial plan for your home buying needs and goals. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three financial advisors who serve your area, and you can interview your advisor matches at no cost to decide which one is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
- Saving is important when you’re looking to buy a house. Setting a budget with SmartAsset’s budget tool can get you on track.
Photo credits: ©iStock.com/andresr, ©iStock.com/FG Trade, ©iStock.com/courtneyk