Now that you have gone through the process of getting pre-approved by a lender, you are now prepared to select a real estate professional that will help you not only find the right home for you and your family, but will also explain all the details needed of a real estate transaction. You are about to make one of your life’s biggest and most important decision financially. Century21 Allstars and our real estate agents are here to take care of you each step of the way so you will not be alone through the purchase process.
Our real estate agents go through an extensive training program daily where they learn our market backwards and forwards, they develop a tremendous network of contacts to help you during and after the transaction and they are master negotiators to help you get a great deal. Selecting your real estate agent is important as you do not want to work with inexperienced or ineffective agents that can jeopardize the outcome of the purchase of your home. The key is simple, to choose a real estate agent that will have your best interest at heart and who will work hard to get you the best deal possible.
Here are few tips to ensure you find an agent who will do exactly that:
Most real estate agents find work primarily through referrals. If they do a good job, their customers tell other homebuyers and sellers about them, and they get more work.
You’ll have better luck finding a great agent if you ask for referrals from friends and family members. Asking around is especially important if you’re new to an area.
Do Your Research
Regardless of what your friends and neighbors say, it’s still important to conduct some independent research on a potential real estate agent.
For one thing, you want to ensure that the agent is up-to-date on all licensing requirements.
It’s also a good idea to choose a Realtor, which is someone who is a member of the National Association of Realtors. This organization ensures that its members follow a strict code of ethics and that real estate agents stay up-to-date on the world of real estate with ongoing activities and education.
However, licensing shouldn’t be the only thing you’re concerned about. You’ll also want to choose an experienced Realtor who has closed on many properties and is an expert in the area where you are buying or selling. In many cases, an agent’s expertise is with a specific sub-division.
Meet Agents Out and About
Obviously, you shouldn’t choose a real estate agent before you meet him or her in person. But the best way to meet an agent isn’t to schedule a sit-down office visit. Instead, you want to meet them in their world.
When you’re interested in hiring a particular agent, track down some of his or her current listings and find an open house where they are likely to be. Head to that open house, even if you aren’t interested in the property, and watch the agent in action.
Home sellers can get an idea of how well an agent can sell a home and interact with potential buyers. Homebuyers are able to meet a potential agent in a low-pressure environment.
Check for Web Savvy
These days, most agents have a website, and many of them use the site to gain business. But that doesn’t mean they know how to use the web effectively to market a home.
As more and more homebuyers shop around online before setting foot at an open house, online marketing is increasingly important. Be sure your agent, or at least the team she works with, can get word out about your home online.
Don’t Get Passed to an Assistant
You may think that hiring a busy, go-get-’em agent is a good idea. And it can be. These types of real estate agents will often market harder, dig up more homes to show you, and generally do a great job.
They can also be too busy to deal with you person to person. Most agents can handle about six or seven clients at once. If the one you’re interested in is juggling a dozen clients, you’re likely to get passed to an assistant, or have your phone calls go unanswered for days at a time.
Ask a Lot of Questions
Questions will help you get a feel for an agent’s strengths and weaknesses. If you’re a first-time homebuyer for instance, talk to the agent about how many first-time homebuyers he’s worked with recently.
Ask questions about how many homes you can expect to see. Talk to the agent about your budget and ask questions about the local area. First-time homebuyers should talk to potential real estate agents about closing and other specifics to ensure the agent is prepared to walk them through the process step by step.
The goal is to ensure that the particular agent is a good fit for your needs and that he or she understands the local real estate market, something important for both sellers and buyers. To help you get started, we have below a few questions that can help you initiate the interview process for your real estate agent:
How long have you been in the real estate business?
How long has this person been on the job (look for upward of a year), and were they full or part time? While experience is no guarantee of skill, real estate, like many other professions, is mostly learned on the job.
Are you a member of the National Association of Realtors?
This organization requires certain standards from its members, and you don’t want to worry about having a shady agent.
Are you a member of MLS?
This is the Multiple Listing Service, which gives agents access to houses represented by all agencies – not just their own. For sellers, this means your home will be posted on the list as well, which means more people will see it.
Do you work on weekends?
Since this is when most open houses take place, the answer to this should be yes.
Can you outline how you would represent us?
The answer should include your housing inspections, following through with your mortgage approval process, and being present at your closing.
Will you show me houses listed by other companies?
Double-check that the agent isn’t partial to his or her own realty group.
Are you familiar with our area?
You’ll want the agent to know the ins and outs of your community.
How many homes have you sold?
If you’re in the market to sell, find out how many homes they successfully sold last year. While those numbers may be low due to market activity over the past six months, it’s a good way to compare candidates.
What’s your business style?
Do you want a broker who calls you once a week or emails daily? Find out how the agent will keep you updated on prospects and inform them about your preferences.
After you have interviewed your candidate, it will be prudent to ask the agent for past clients referrals. This way you will get a sense of what to expect during the transaction by the testimonials of buyers that were at one point searching for a home just like you.
Get Recommendations from the Agent
Finally, as stated before, many agents will be able to recommend mortgage brokers, insurance companies, contractors and other home buying and selling personnel. The ideal agent is well-connected but won’t push you toward any particular choice.
After you have read these recommendations, the best agent for you will be an experienced professional who will listen to you, conduct him/herself in an ethical manner and knows your market.