Buying a home is not as simple as checking online sites and finding the perfect home at the right price. It involves a complex maze of forms, financing, inspections, pricing and negotiations. A Realtor is a licensed professional that can take the complexities of one of your largest and most emotional investments and make them quickly disappear. Last week, I wrote about the first step to home ownership in our weekly mini-series called “10 Steps to Home Ownership!” Now that you’ve made the decision that you’re ready to buy, it’s time for the next step.
STEP 2 : HIRING A REALTOR®!
Realtors are great sources of information and assistance in the housing industry. They have a responsibility to serve the real estate market with integrity but not all Realtors are created equal. Make sure to ask the following questions prior to enlisting the help of any real estate agent:
- How many homes have you sold in the last 12 months? There are over 1 million practicing real estate agents and some work full-time while others work part-time. The number of years one has been licensed has little correlation with the amount of experience they have. Some Realtors continue to repeat their first year mistakes every year while others gain 20 years of experience in a few months. Each real estate transaction is unique and provides a great amount of learning experience for the agent and the number of transactions they did will really help shine the light on their experience.
- How many times were you a Buyer’s Agent in the last 12 months? The representation ratio is as important to the agent’s ability to help you as their overall sales experience. Ask your Realtor how many times they have represented the buyer only in a real estate transaction because buyer representation and seller representation are two very different concepts.
- Where do you sell homes the most? When you begin looking for a home you will need to narrow down where your ideal living areas will be. Using an agent with extensive knowledge of the area will aid you in finding the right home much faster.
- Do you have a network of contacts? A well renowned Realtor will have a list of loan officers, home inspectors and appraiser that he can recommend to you. They should be able to provide you with network of contacts that will make the home buying process much smoother and faster.
- How quickly can I expect a response from you? A big concern for home buyers is what will happen once you do start the home buying process. Will your agent be available by phone, text or email? Will you have to wait days to get a response? The home buying process has a strict timeline and failure to complete things according to deadlines could have a negative impact. Make sure your agent is readily available when needed.
- Do you have any references? You can always search for any agent online and read their testimonials but a true professional will have no problem letting you talk to some of his/her past clients. Ask to see references and find out if you can contact them? Whether they’re a new or seasoned Realtor, they can provide references from past clients or employers. You can also contact your local real estate board and find out if there are any active or past complaints against the Realtor.
- What are the TOP THREE things that set you apart from the competition? A good Realtor won’t hesitate to answer this question and will be ready to fire off why he/she is the best suited for the job. A professional is the one that is honest, assertive, analytical, available by phones/text/e-mail, friendly and able to maintain a sense of humor under trying circumstances.
- How much do you charge? Typically a buyer’s agent will get paid by the seller but there are some circumstances where they may charge a fee. Such fees typically include administrative fees charged by the Realtor’s firm or in some rare cases when they sell you a home that is “for sale by owner.” Ask if the fees are fixed or based on a percentage and remember that all fees are negotiable!