Buying a house can be an anxiety-inducing, tension-filled, frustrating experience that will make you wish you had never decided to become a homeowner.
Or, you could hire a buyer’s agent.
OK, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but not by much. With a wealth of information available about the housing market through online sites, many people think they don’t need an agent. But there are plenty of good reasons to get one.
What Buyer’s Agents Do
The list is long, but these are some of the areas where a buyer’s agent can help you out in home search and purchase.
- Find you up-to-date listings (the ones on the Internet are often outdated)
- Help you figure out exactly what you want and why you want it
- Make sure all of your rights are represented during times when you might be too emotional to think clearly.
- Handle the mountains of paperwork needed in a home sale
- Handle the negotiations for you – this is a time you want a seasoned professional in this role
- Provide advice on what to look for in terms of possible repairs, setting up inspections and following up on inspection findings
That’s just some of the major stuff. In general, it is hard to over-emphasize the importance of having someone in your corner who will protect your rights and give you a person to bounce ideas off of, day and night.
What to Look for When Selecting a Buyer’s Agent
Some things on this list might seem fairly simple and obvious, but you would be surprised how many people don’t think about the simple and obvious, Keep these tips in mind when seeking a buyer’s agent.
Someone you like. Don’t choose someone who might be good but who drives you nuts every time you talk to him or her more than five minutes. Buying a house takes a long time – sometimes far longer than you think it might, and then some. If you want to torture yourself, pick an agent who grates on your nerves. Or, take the time to talk to an agent and make sure you get along. There are plenty of agents around, so there is one available for all personalities.
Agree on communication. Maybe you like talking on the phone, maybe you don’t. Maybe you prefer to get texts or email. Whatever the case, make sure the agent is cool with your choice of communication – you don’t want to miss an important text about an available property when you are at work and had asked to be emailed instead.
Make sure they listen. You know, at least generally, what you want in a home. If you want an island kitchen but your agent shows you a home without one – or if you want a walkable, inner city neighborhood and your agent talks about showing you property in the suburbs – then it’s time to get another agent. If they aren’t listening to you now, you can’t trust them with all the important stuff later.
Market knowledge. Make sure to test their knowledge of the local market. Ask questions – many questions. You want someone with expert-level knowledge.
Translating. You want someone who can take terms in real estate – escrow, absorption rates, that sort of thing – and explain it in a way that makes sense to a layman such as yourself.
Connections. You also want an agent who knows people throughout the industry in important roles such as inspection and lending. They should be able to advise you in these areas and recommend someone who is good and charges a reasonable price.
Contract details. Typically, you want to avoid an arrangement where your agent or his company can also represent the seller, a situation that can (obviously) lead to conflicts of interest. You will want to sign an exclusive buyer agency agreement or something similar.
Keeping the above in mind and you will do well in selecting a buyer’s agent. Once it’s over and the house keys are yours, if you choose well, you will look back on the experience and be thankful you had someone on your side for the whole process.