As fun as cruising listings on Zillow can be, chances are you’ll want to work with a real estate agent when you are ready to buy a home. Even though real estate transactions between just the seller and the borrower can take place, it’s usually better to involve a real estate professional in your purchase. When you work with an agent, he or she advocates on your behalf to make sure you are getting the best deal on your house. They start by advising you on what a good offer for the house would be, then negotiate your contract with the seller and their agent (if they have one). Your ideal real estate agent will have knowledge of the area, current sales trends, and what to look for (or run away from) when browsing homes.
So how do you find a good real estate agent? Here are a few ways you can narrow down your search.
1. Before you seek out a real estate agent – talk to a lender.
Although you may want to choose your real estate agent and start shopping as soon as possible, speaking with a lender and getting pre-approved for a loan amount will help your agent during the shopping process. At Southern Trust Mortgage, we offer Priority Approval, which is a true credit approval given to eligible borrowers. The approval is issued without requiring a property, so you can shop with certainty, knowing the exact loan amount for which you qualify.
2. Ask your friends and family for a referral.
There’s a good chance someone you know has purchased a home in your area within the past few years. Use this to your advantage by asking for recommendations from your friends and family. You can usually gather up a handful of possible agents this way and compare the experiences of your friends and family against online reviews.
3. Speak with a few agents before settling on one.
It’s not out of the question to informally interview multiple candidates before deciding if an agent is the right one for you. Interviewing an agent before you agree to work with them allows you the chance to learn more about how they work, their method and effectiveness in communicating, and their availability.
4. Decide how you will communicate with the agent ahead of time.
Do you want to work with an individual, or someone associated with a larger team? Do you want to communicate strictly by email, or do you prefer to handle business via phone or text? While a good real estate agent can make you feel like you’re their only client, they are likely juggling several cases at once, and so their styles of communicating may vary. Figuring out how, when, and how often you will communicate with your agent (and they with you) will help them better meet and manage your expectations during the buying process.
5. Make the right choice for you.
As referenced above, referrals from friends and family is a great starting point in your search for a real estate agent. It’s important to note, however, that since every person (and every purchase) is different, just because something worked for them does not automatically mean it will be the right fit for you. It’s important to find an agent that makes you feel confident, informed, and assured while purchasing your home, even if that means going with someone else.
It may take several attempts to land on an agent that meets all of your needs, but rest assured that with research and diligence, you’ll find the perfect real estate agent for you.