One overlooked step in the home buying process is figuring out how to find the best real estate agent. There are so many agents out there it seems like a no-brainer. Look at the billboard, Google it, or ask a family member. Simple, right?
It is simple but it’s important that you choose the right person. Finding the best real estate agent could mean the difference between a fast and successful home transaction or a slow and frustrating one.
This guide will help you make the right choice for you.
Get Pre-Approved First
It’s an exciting time for everyone and your first instinct is to go over to Zillow or Realtor and find some houses you like. You then call up a real estate agent and they ask you if you’ve secured lending or a mortgage pre-approval yet.
This happens to a lot of people and it’s especially true during a seller’s market when houses are going for the asking price or more.
One important step that will give you an advantage over other people making offers on the same house is whether or not you have a pre-approval letter from a lender. Getting pre-approved first will also give you a hard number so you’ll know exactly what the lender will give you; not what you think you can afford.
It will also show potential real estate agents that you’re serious about your home buying journey and ready to make an offer if something comes along.
Once you’ve got your pre-approval you’ll want to reach out to people in your network and see if they can recommend someone they’ve worked with before. Finding the best real estate agent is all about listening to other people’s past experiences.
Keep in mind what type of transaction those people went through. Are you a first-time home buyer looking for homes within a certain price range? If so, you might not want to work with a real estate agent who primarily deals with seniors downsizing.
You should also pay attention to and understand the difference between a Realtor and a real estate agent. If someone has the title “Realtor” it means they’re a member of the National Association of Realtors and they abide by a specific code of ethics.
This doesn’t necessarily mean anything, but it’s something you’ll want to keep in mind.
Do Your Research
If you’ve settled on a few agents that you might want to work with, do some research on them. Take a look at their online presence, see if they have any reviews, and look at what people are saying about them.
The most successful real estate agents will have a number of five-star reviews, they’ll have an established transaction history, and they’ll work for a broker with a strong reputation in the local area.
Decide What Type of Agent You Want
I think this is one of the most important decisions you can make. Within the real estate world, there are different types of agents but you may not know this until you start working with them. Some agents are part-time with another job, some do it full-time but aren’t dedicated to it, and others are full throttle and looking to make the most of every opportunity.
It’s important to realize that none of these are bad, but they each come with their own quirks.
If you go out and hire the busiest and highest sales volume real estate agent, you’ll need to realize that they may not respond to you as quickly and could potentially move faster when showing homes.
When you’re dealing with a part-time agent, they might have more time to dedicate to you even though they have another job simply because they aren’t involved in as many transactions.
Don’t Be Afraid to Switch
At some point, you may or may not have to enter into a seller or buyer agreement with an agent. This contract binds you to that agent and ensures that if the agent spends his or her time on you, that they’ll end up doing business with you in the long run. It simply protects their investment in you as a buyer or seller.
But, you don’t have to be afraid to switch if you’re not happy with the experience you’re getting. If you go and look at a few houses or you meet with the agent at their office and something turns you off about them, you have the right to switch. This is a big decision in your life and you can choose someone else who will help and support you.
Make a Final Decision
You do have to make a decision and trust that everything will work out in the end. Choosing the best real estate agent isn’t an easy task but it’s not something you should overthink. Go through the steps outlined in this guide and go with your gut on someone. Worst case scenario; you switch to a different agent after a couple of weeks.
Be patient, get pre-approved first, and go for an agent that supports your goals and objectives. If you do that, you’ll be just fine!