The first step in buying your new home is choosing your team. There are a number of people whose expertise and experience will be critical as you work towards finding the perfect home: real estate agent, banker, home inspector… First, let’s talk about your agent. For most people, purchasing a house or condominium is the biggest investment they will make, so choose wisely. Typically, when you buy, you will not pay your agent. The agent generally gets paid a portion of the commission paid by the person selling the property. That doesn’t mean your REALTOR® is not working for you. In fact, the Buyer’s Agent has an agency relationship with the buyer and consequently, must act in the best interests of the buyer (the client) at all times.
Your Real Estate Agent is the one team member who will be with you from start to finish. From helping you to do on-line searches to arranging viewings to choosing other team members to the final inspection just before you take possession of your new home, your agent will be there to provide advice and information.
“How do I do that?”, you ask. Well, start by asking friends and family if they’ve had a good experience with a REALTOR® lately. I am not suggesting you engage a friend of a friend or a relative of a friend or even a friend of a relative just because there is some kind of connection. If you know someone who has purchased or sold a property lately, ask them if they were happy with the service. Was their agent experienced and did they keep their promises and were they professional at all times? If the answer is yes to these questions, then “interview” the agent and decide if this is the person you want to work with until you find your dream home. And if it doesn’t work out – if you are not getting timely information or he/she is always late for appointments, for example – don’t be afraid to move on and hire another agent.
If you can’t get a referral from a friend or relative, then perhaps there are people with whom you do business who might know someone. Failing that, visit a few real estate professionals’ web sites and spend time on a few that grab your attention. As you read, look for the answers to a few telling questions: How long has the agent been licensed? Do they appear to be knowledgeable and professional? Finally, look at the agents’ testimonial page. Do the testimonials seem real and genuine? Do they include both first and last names? Anyone can write their own testimonial and sign, Gina or Frank or… You get the picture.
When you are interviewing a prospective agent to work for you, a good technique is to ask who they would recommend as additional team members: home inspectors, bankers and lawyers and so on. In my opinion, a truly professional agent should offer the names of at least two or three potential team members for each category so that you can choose who will best suit your needs. Also, be sure to ask if the agent you are interviewing accepts referral fees from any of these related service providers. You can draw your own conclusion from the answer you receive.
In the next post I will talk about assembling the rest of your team. “Assembling a team”. That makes it sound like buying a home is a big deal and yes, it is a big deal. Getting the right people working for you will not only minimize the stress, but will go a long way to getting the best results.