So, you’ve decided to buy a home, and now it’s time to find an agent. When buying a home the agent you choose to work with can make a huge difference – and could literally save you thousands of dollars, a ton of stress, or worst case, be the reason a transaction fails. Yet despite the high stakes, very few buyers give major consideration to who they are going to work with. The average person will take anywhere between 6-18 months before they decide to buy a home, yet they will select an agent within 24-48 hours. Most of us spend longer researching customer reviews when buying a $100 electronic appliance !
Here are my top tips for selecting a buyer’s agent:
- Ask friends and family for a referral. Personal experience is always the best barometer of what it’s really like to work with someone. But the journey shouldn’t stop there. Don’t assume that just because your great aunt Maud had a great experience with a particular agent, she’s the right agent for you. One size does not fit all – especially when it comes to real estate agents.
- Do your online research. Check out their website, Facebook pages, blogs and vlogs. If their online presence brags solely about their successes that could be a red flag. Instead, look for an agent that spends their marketing time and money educating prospective buyers about the process.
- Pick up the phone. I strongly recommend you speak to a handful of agents. How they handle that phone call will tell you a lot about how that agent works with their clients and what their priorities are. If they quickly want to take you out and view inventory before taking the time to understand your needs, it’s possible they care more about the transaction (and ultimately the paycheck) than they do about you and your buying journey.
- Meet with at least 2 agents. An in-person meeting (often referred to as a Buyer’s Interview) will tell you a lot. How do they show up, What do they ask of you in advance of a meeting, what materials have they bought with them, how do they present themselves, how much preparation have they done? If they haven’t done the prep work before they meet with a prospective client, chances are they will do even less once you commit to working with them.
- Is there Chemistry? Although this is number 5 on the list, it’s perhaps the most important. Admittedly you’re not entering a lifelong commitment with your realtor (although if he/she is a good agent you’ll want to continue working with the broker over multiple years/transactions), but you do form a very intense relationship with your broker over a very short period of time. A good agent will not just care about your ‘whats’ but also your ‘whys’. So you want to work with someone who your comfortable sharing financial, and personal information with. And believe me, a lot of personal information gets shared between buyers and agent – most of it nothing to do with houses!
- Ask questions. You want to work with an agent who is knowledgeable about, and conducted business, in your preferred areas, is familiar with your price point, works full time in the business, and can accommodate your schedule. Don’t be afraid to dig deep and get personal about their experience and work schedule.
In summary, not every agent is created equal. Take your time, do your research and go with your gut instinct. A good agent will save you money, time, stress and will be a trusted resource for many years to come – hopefully even a lifelong friend.
My next will focus on what not to look for in an agent – or rather red flags to be aware of.