By Vicki Duong

On a previous blog post, we listed our 5 Tips on How to Pick the Right Realtor to Sell your Home. What if you’re ready to buy a home? Finding the best real estate agents in your area is one of the most important first steps you will make as a home buyer. Great agents will guide you through the complexities of the home buying process, making the entire experience as transparent and smooth as possible. However, less than satisfactory agents will make it seem like you’re wasting their time or they’re wasting yours.
Here are 5 tips on choosing the right real estate professional to help you buy a home.
Finding the Right Realtor

1. Realtors® vs. Real Estate Agents

During your initial research into finding a real estate agent, you might have run into a term or logo referring to an agent as a Realtor® with a reserved symbol. If you’ve wondered who these particular agents are, you aren’t the only one.

Realtors® are certified members of the National Association of REALTORS® and are held to a higher standard of conduct referred to in the Code of Ethics that they are to uphold and buyers can expect. Realtors® have access to greater marketing channels such as the MLS (Multiple Listing Service), which is not directly available to non-NAR realtors. The status as a Realtor® can give most clients a peace of mind that who they’re dealing with is a licensed professional of a regulated and recognized industry.

2. Plan Your Search

As a home buyer, the first thing you should do before you even start looking for a real estate agent is to know exactly what you’re looking for and what you need. The worst thing you can do is choose an agent when you’re still undecided on a location in your area or the number of bedrooms and bathrooms you need.

Make a list of what you need, as opposed to what you want, in a home. No agent can make the decisions you need to make when it comes to deciding on the right home for you and your family. A good realtor will serve you and your best interest and won’t simply try to sell you on a home from their own listing.

3. Where to Start Looking

The first thing many people tend to do when they’re looking to buy something is to ask family, friends, neighbors, or coworkers for referrals. If they have a realtor they’ve used before, ask them about their experiences with their realtor. Successful agents want to do well for their clients because a referral from satisfied clients is an invaluable source of business and good reputation.

Doing simple Google searches online for top real estate agencies in your area will get you some great results as well. Spend some time browsing local agency websites and look up agent profiles. They may have customer testimonials or you can check HouseHunt or Yelp to see if more customer reviews are out there for each agent.

For a more hands on approach, look for open houses around your area of interest and meet local real estate agents in the wild. Observe how they conduct their business as they show the home. Are they professional? Knowledgeable? Prepared? You can gauge a lot about an agent by watching them work. If you like what you see from an agent, interact with them and ask for a business card.

4. Interview Potential Realtors

You’ve been through this before. You want a job? Nail the interview. Hiring the right real estate agent to help you accomplish your goal to the best of their abilities is an essential step in the home buying process. Don’t be in a rush to go with the first agent you meet. Research and talk to three to five agents and narrow down your choices. Make sure you have some basic questions and concerns to ask potential agents. How do they search for your new home? How many homes will they likely show you? What do they do when there are multiple offers for a home you’re interested in? Do they also present offers? Lastly, a good thing to take notice when you’re interviewing a potential realtor is if they ask specific questions of you in return.

5. New vs. Experienced Agents

Don’t be too quick to judge that experience necessarily equates to better. Experience for a real estate agent could mean he or she have been around for years and closed a good share of sales during their time or it could mean they know the appropriate process to guide a home buyer through even if their career just started. Whether green or proficient, any agent can end up ruining your home buying experience if you let them.

Poor communication is an immediate sign that a realtor probably doesn’t see you as a priority and it’s not exclusive to inexperienced realtors. An experienced realtor could be juggling multiple clients at once, favoring an impending sale with a client close to buying. A new but certified realtor to the scene may have that enthusiasm you like in a go-getter. You may even find that some agents in training may work with other agents to get the deal done.

Finding the right real estate agent as a home buyer may sound a bit daunting; however, if you’re thorough and patient enough, you’ll find one with answers to all of your questions and more. They’ll have only your best interest in mind and will make sure you’re comfortable with your decisions. Buying a home can be a great experience with a great realtor at the helm.

Do you have an inspiring story about an awesome real estate agent who helped you through the home buying process? Or do have additional tips on how to choose a fantastic realtor based on a past experience? Share them with us and give your personal insights to new home buyers on the lookout for a great agent.

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