Choosing a Real Estate Professional
Here are some tips on finding and selecting an agent to represent and guide you through the homebuying process:
- Consider looking for agents online. There are many housing sites that provide information about agents in your area, and some even include reviews of the agents from their previous clients.
Some questions you may want to ask:
- Do you typically represent buyers? There are two types of services an agent can offer (1) that of the listing agent representing the seller and (2) that of the selling agent, representing the buyer. While it is probable that an agent will provide both services, some prefer to specialize in one or the other.
- Do you limit your practice to a certain area? Agents typically work in self-defined territories. Try and find an agent that is familiar with the area that you would like to live in. They’ll be better able to help you make an informed decision about the house, as well as the community, nearby shopping, commute, and other points of importance to you.
- How long have you worked in the area / for the company / as a real estate agent? You want to know that the professional you choose will provide good service and has the knowledge to inform you through the homebuying process. Let them explain and then evaluate their response.
- Do I have to sign a contract to work with you? Most states require that a licensed real estate agent sign an agreement that clearly indicates they will represent you in the purchase of your home. You can negotiate the term of this agreement (typically three to six months) and can request that the agent write a provision for cancelling the agreement with proper notice. This way you aren’t locked into an agreement with an agent if you are unhappy with their service. It is important to read this agreement before signing so you understand what is expected of each party while you are looking for a home.
- What do I do when I find that home? The answer should be call me. Know the best way to communicate with your real estate agent. If you walk into an open house (after having signed an representation agreement) you should let the onsite real estate agent know that you are already working with someone and then contact your real estate agent and let them know you are looking at a home. If you decide to buy, your real estate agent will be able to act quickly on your behalf because they will know the appropriate steps to indicate your interest in the property..
- Do you work with or have a preferred lender? Many real estate agents work closely with specific mortgage lenders but you are free to choose any lender you wish. If you haven’t yet found a lender, the real estate agent may be able to recommend several to you from those they work with.
- Your real estate agent plays an important role in managing the purchase process. They act on your behalf and help you negotiate the best price on a home. Make sure you talk to several licensed real estate agents before making a decision about who to work with.