Buying a house is one of the largest financial decisions of your life and it’s a very involved process. This wasn’t a process that I could imagine going through without the support of a real estate agent. Having an experienced professional by our side to help us navigate the tricky business of purchasing a property made the process less stressful. Our real estate agent worked for us as our negotiator who knew the market, saving us time, money and heartache by helping us make the right offer—playing hardball when necessary—and staying on top of the process. Our agent gave us peace of mind and a sense of security because we knew someone was looking out for our best interest. But how do you find a real estate agent? What questions should you ask them? And what support do they offer?
Whenever I am in need of support, advice, and recommendations, I defer to the people closest to me because I trust their judgement and usually find them to be credible sources. Finding an agent is no different. Start by asking your friends, family, and colleagues for a referral in your target area. Find out about their experiences and, hopefully, you’ll find a name that keeps coming up. Once you have a couple names, call the agents and set up a time to go over any questions you have. But what questions should you ask your agent?
Questions to ask a potential real estate agent
An experienced real estate agent who knows the local neighborhoods can advise you on things you don’t realize you need advice on. Your real estate agent will have insight on market conditions and whether homes you want to make offers on are priced properly. Agents can identify potential issues with a home or neighborhood you’re unaware of, and they’ll go to bat for you to negotiate pricing and terms. Here are some key things we asked our agent:
- Do you have a written agreement?
- What is the duration of that agreement?
- How do you get paid?
- What is your preferred method of communication?
- Which areas are you able to show us homes?
- How familiar are you with the area where I want to purchase?
- What if I see a for-sale-by-owner house on my own?
- How often will you supply me with properties that meet my criteria? How will you get them to me? Will you point out all the negative aspects of each property as well as all the positive aspects?
- Do you think foreclosures, bank-owned properties, short sales, or for-sale-by-owner properties would be appropriate for my home search?
- How often are you available to show us homes?
- How do we tell the seller we’d like to make an offer?
- How long will it take to close on the home after we make an offer?
- How long will it take the bank to approve our loan?
- After an offer is made what comes next?
Choose the person, not the experience
When choosing an agent I believe in choosing an agent who works for you and with you. Don’t choose an agent based solely on experience. Although it’s good to have, it’s not everything. You will be in constant communication with your agent and you’ll also spend a lot of time with that agent. Your relationship is important, and you need to mesh. Choose someone who is relatable and can keep it real with you.