So, you’re ready to buy your dream home, and now you just need someone to help find it for you. In other words, how do you pick a realtor? The first place to check is within your circle of influence. Who do you know that recently has bought or sold a home: a family member, friend, coworker? You could ask your accountant or tax preparer, financial advisor, lawyer, or your employer’s Human Resources department, which works with employees who are relocated.
Be prepared that some of the experiences may not have been good ones. Some of the suggestions might be who not to use, instead of recommendations. But, for the many great experiences, this is where you should start.
Another option is to check the weekly Real Estate section in the newspaper. You could also meet realtors at open houses. Many of them do open houses on Sundays, when they spend a couple hours at a home showing it to prospective buyers. I recommend that you go at the beginning of the second hour. Most of the time, this is when the agent has the least amount of traffic and can give you their full attention.
Once you have identified a few agents, then you will want to meet them. The agent will want to make sure that you are either prequalified or preapproved for a mortgage. Set appointments with two or three agents to determine whose personality or experience works with your requirements. You should prepare a few questions, such as:
- Ask if they are licensed and up to date.
- Ask if they are full time or part time. You need someone committed to your search for a home. This way you don’t miss potential opportunities.
- Ask the agent for recent listings which sold with actual selling prices. This will give you an idea of how the market is doing where you are shopping. They should also be able to tell what type of financing was used in most cases.
- Ask if they are a broker or agent. Brokers are more experienced, but they also may be busier since they tend to “manage” their office.
- Ask if they are able to do multi-listing, where they can show you everything for sale no matter who the realtor.
- Ask them how they are doing. Most agents will be truthful and let you know. The good ones are still successful.
One important item has to do with the ability to show multi-listings. Most realtors have that capability. What does this mean? I had a client who was looking for a home and each week I would get a call from a different agent. After a few weeks and speaking with about half a dozen real estate agents, I asked my client why he kept going to different agents. He said that he was driving around looking for homes, and when he found one for sale he would call the agent on the For Sale sign. This is not necessary. Plus, it’s important to remember that the agent who is listing the house is contractually obligated to represent the interests of the seller, not yours as the buyer.
Most agents are able to provide you listings for all properties for sale, regardless of the agent or the real estate office. Once you’ve established a relationship with a “buyer’s agent,” they can represent you for any property for sale. Of course, the agent does better financially if they sell you their own listing, but most will work with you to find your dream home. That’s part of the process in picking a realtor.
What questions do you have about picking a realtor or buying a home?