Home buying isn’t a uniform process. Your home buying experience may look nothing like someone else’s home buying experience. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to buying, but there are some things you should consider when you’re selecting a real estate agent to help you buy your new home.
Real Estate agents can be extremely helpful when it comes to doing the footwork, finding prospective properties and narrowing down the field. A good agent can give you information about the area; tell you whether or not the neighborhood is good for your needs and even whether or not the house is priced properly. However, the wrong agent can actually be detrimental to your cause. So beware of any obvious red flags in agent negotiations.
Seller Agent versus Buyer Agent
The most important distinction to know when you’re agent-shopping is the difference between a seller’s agent and a buyer’s agent. When a homeowner decides to sell his or her home and lists it with a real estate agent, that agent is known as the seller’s agent. That agent’s job is to represent the seller’s best interests. Therefore, you as a buyer are a secondary concern, and if the agent can get a better deal for his sellers, you might end up with a deal that’s not right for you.
A buyer’s agent is a real estate agent that you contact and contract with to help you find and negotiate for homes. The buyer’s agent works on your behalf; not the seller’s behalf, even if he gets a portion of the seller’s commission. This makes the buyer’s agent your advocate, and someone who you can generally trust to look out for your interests and not the seller’s. However, not all properties offer commissions to buyer’s agents, so if you have a buyer’s agent, you might miss out on a property that the agent wouldn’t bother to show you because your agent wouldn’t get a commission.
Don’t Choose Agents Randomly
So you’ve decided to buy a home and you intend to work with a real estate agent. How do you choose the right agent? Do you look in the phonebook, call a well-known agency or browse websites? When you do find potential agents, how do you decide which one is the right agent for you? Avoid making a classic buyer mistake and picking an agent at random. If you’re looking for an agent with a specific style, or an agent who offers a certain type of services, you may need to shop around to find the perfect agent for your needs. Do your research, and select an agent who can help you achieve your goals.
Look at an agent’s track record.
To find out if an agent is a good fit for you, look at the agent’s track record. Has he or she sold many homes in your price range, or is the agent accustomed to selling more expensive (or less expensive) homes? Have the homes been located in areas where you’d like to live, or neighborhoods that don’t seem like a good fit? Finding an agent who deals mostly in the types of properties you want to own can give you a big boost toward knowing the real estate agent has your back, and the expertise to help you find your dream home.
Know What Information to Disclose – Keep Your Cards Close to Your Vest
To get the best deal and find the perfect home, it’s natural for buyers to give real estate agents all of the information about their needs, career, financing and other pertinent data. The more data that an agent has the better they can assist the buyer to find the perfect home. However, it isn’t always in your best interest as a buyer to tell the agent everything. If your agent is working for the seller, information that you disclose may be used to get a better deal for the sellers – not for you. Make sure you know who the agent is working for, and know what information to disclose and what to keep to yourself.
Don’t Accept Agent’s Opinions at Face Value
When you’re shopping for a home, a lot of things go into your decision to buy. You want to find the right home at the right price in the right neighborhood. You want something that provides an easy commute, and something that’s likely to appreciate in value so you can make a profit on the home purchase. It’s easy to rely on your real estate agent’s opinion to determine whether you’ve found the right home that meets your criteria. Resist the temptation to rely solely on your agent’s opinion, though, as it may not be an impartial source of information.
Your real estate agent is one of the most valuable members of your home-buying crew. However, you may find that your real estate agent isn’t representing you at all – and then you have to be savvy about deals, homes, prices and negotiation. Make sure you know who your agent is representing, and be careful not to make assumptions about the advice you’re getting. Also, don’t give up your negotiating role or decision-making capabilities or you may find yourself with a bad deal or a conflict of interests that creates a problem in your home-buying process.