Choosing the right real estate agent is the first step to success when purchasing a home. It might seem overwhelming at first, especially when you see massive advertisements for agents everywhere. They all seem to promise you the world. How do you know which one you can trust? Here are some simple tips to get you started.
Ask the Right Questions
You have the right to interview several real estate agents in order to find the one who is right for you. Don’t be ashamed to ask questions that help you decide. Take your time and interview several agents at a time. Remember, you need to trust this person with one of the largest investments of your life, so it is a decision to take serious. Here are some questions to ask:
- Who do you represent? Some agents represent both the buyer and the seller. This is called a dual agency. This is something you want to avoid. It is best to have an agent who represents your best interests rather than caring about the seller’s needs as well.
- Is this your full-time job? Many real estate agents do this job on the side. They might be reputable and great at their job. However, they might not have enough time to devote to you when you want to search for a home or have questions.
- How busy are you? This is a question with a double-edged sword. You want an agent who has plenty of satisfied clients, but you don’t want him to be so busy that he doesn’t have time for you.
- How many current listings do you have? If he has some current listings, you can look at them and see how well he words the listings. You can also see where he advertises to determine if his efforts are adequate.
Talk with Past Clients
A reputable real estate agent should have past clients who are willing to talk to you. Not every client he had will be willing, but some should. If they are happy with the service the agent provided, they would probably not have a problem talking to you. You should try to talk to these people in person; don’t rely on the internet or even email. Look at them face-to-face to see how they react to your specific questions. This can give you a true feeling of how the agent does business. You can ask past clients specific questions, such as:
- What was the sales price? What did you pay? The difference between the two will help you understand the agent’s negotiation skills.
- Were you happy with his service?
- Is there anything you were disappointed with regarding his service?
- Was he available any time you needed him?
- Was the bidding process successful?
- Would you recommend this agent to me?
Check Out His Credentials
Real estate agents must have proper credentials in order to do business with you. Before you hire an agent, look up him up on your state’s website. Every state has a listing of licensed agents. They also have a list of any complaints filed against him. It is also not a bad idea to check with the Better Business Bureau to get any idea of the company’s rating where the agent works.
You also have the right to ask an agent to see a copy of his license. This gives you an idea of how long he has been in the business. It also lets you know how willing he is to provide you with requested information. If he acts nonchalant or does not directly answer your question about his credentials, then he may not be as straightforward as you hoped.
Ask About Familiarity With the Area
If you have a specific area which you would like to purchase a home, ask the agent about it. If he is not familiar with the area, you should choose someone else. The right agent will have plenty of information for you regarding the area, what to expect, and where the best place places to live are located. If he is not familiar with the area, you might overlook a very important piece of information that would otherwise have you looking elsewhere for a home. Ask general questions to see what information he can provide you with off the cuff. If he stumbles, he is not an expert in the area you wish to live.
Finding a real estate agent you can trust is just as important as finding a mortgage lender you can trust. The agent who helps you find your home is the first step in a line of professionals involved in your home purchase. If you use an agent who does not know the business well enough, the process could be off to a rough start. In addition, choosing a real estate professional who has a relationship with certain mortgage professionals can help to make the process even easier for you. When the two professional can work together, you can have a smoother process.
Regardless of the choice you make, you should have an integral role in the choice you make. You are not forced to use the first agent you find – shop around and find the one who will serve you the best. This way you can start home ownership off on the right foot!