There’s a lot that goes into finding the right home, but you must first use the most helpful tool in the house hunter’s toolbox: the real estate agent. An agent will be by your side for the long haul, from the initial house search until closing. Thoroughly vetting potential agents can make the process go a lot smoother, so take your time and be sure to ask lots of questions.
Where to Look
With tons of options in the real estate industry, you may have to sift through the pile of names to find the diamond in the rough who’s going to roll their sleeves up and help find your dream home.
Before you start browsing for a potential hire, it’s important to brush up on some of the industry’s common titles:
- Real Estate Agent – Anyone licensed to sell property that has 100+ hours of course work and has passed a state exam.
- Broker – Someone who has more advanced education and can hire real estate agents to work under them.
- Realtor – Someone who is either a broker or an agent and is a member of the National Association of Realtors (NAR).
The NAR has over 1 million members across its estimated 1,600 local affiliations and pledges to a code of ethics and standards of practice to serve your best interests. The NAR includes the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), which is a national database that lists various brokers and agents who could be very helpful in your journey. MLS also provides updates on real estate news, homes for sale, new construction and more. Inquiring at the local Realtors Association, with title officers or a mortgage company about referrals can provide assistance. Additionally, it’s helpful to begin your search by talking to neighbors, friends and family members. Those who have experience with moving can start you off in the right direction.
Once your hunt for a stellar agent is underway, make a list of potential candidates and compare them to see who will be the best fit.
Experience/Knowledge/Proximity of the Market
While in pursuit of the perfect agent, weigh multiple factors including experience and knowledge of the market, qualifications, compensation, services and how local they are to the area you desire to live in.
You’ll want to select an agent who has plenty of experience so they can help make the process go smoothly. The agent’s local knowledge is a necessity to answer your questions about the quality of surrounding schools, the distance to work and the state of the neighborhood. During the search, interview a handful of real estate agents and ask for references from former clients so you can paint a picture of how the agent will handle your quest for a home.
Look at the commission percentage the agent requests; sometimes this number is negotiable. Ask for any additional fees that could be included with the agent’s service. You’ll most likely sign a Buyer-Broker Agreement, which is an agreement to solely work with that broker for a pre-determined, agreed-upon time period with a set commission. Make sure you go over the fine print of the agreement with the real estate agent so you know what services are provided for the commission they receive.
Pick Your Agent
Now that you’ve narrowed it down to a couple of candidates, pick an agent and rest easy knowing you have a helping hand that’ll make the home buying process a breeze. Make sure you’re getting the most bang for your buck with a quality agent who understands your wants and needs and will take the time to set you up with the home of your dreams.