Home Guru: Choose Your Agent Wisely

It Will Pay Off in the Long Run

You’ve determined you want to buy a new home. One of the first and most important decisions you will make is hiring a real estate agent.

This is no place to rush or cut corners. The person you hire can have a big impact on how well your search for a new home goes and your satisfaction with the result.

A good place to start is talking to friends and relatives to find out if they can recommend an agent they have worked with recently. But don’t just take their word for it. Similar to what you are doing in establishing criteria for selecting your new home, do your homework before making a final decision on an agent.

Plan on interviewing several agents, much as you would interview candidates for a job, because that is exactly what you are doing. Here are some questions to use in screening agents:

  • Do you work full time? (Full-time agents are generally better plugged into the dynamics of each local market.)

  • How will you help me achieve my goals?

  • How will you go about finding homes for me to consider that meet my price range, and the parameters I have established?

  • Can you give me examples of recent successes you have had in this geographic area?

  • How long have you been in the real estate business? (Experience helps!)

  • Have you ever had any complaints from your clients? (Double-check local realty associations and/or the state licensing office.)

  • Can you give me contact information for past clients for references? (Do check the references.)

  • How do you communicate with your clients and how often? How available are you? What would past clients say about your communicating abilities?

Other considerations include whether the agent has recent experience buying or selling homes in your price range and what hours he or she works. For example, if you want to see homes in the evening or on weekends, make sure the agent is available to meet your needs.Personality is important, too. Make sure that you are compatible with the person you hire. You will need to communicate regularly with your agent, and you want those interactions to be both productive and pleasant.Make sure to consider the agent’s credentials. Anyone who buys or sells real estate must be licensed in the state where he or she works, as either an agent or broker. In addition, some agents are Realtors, meaning they belong to the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

Realtors must adhere to the NAR’s code of ethics, which in many cases goes beyond the requirements of state law, according to Realtor.com.

Also, select an agent who is representing just you, the buyer, and not the seller as well. Some agents try to represent both sides of a deal, which can create a potential conflict of interest.

When you settle on the agent whose background, expertise and personality most closely fit your needs, it’s time to hit the bricks and find your dream home. Happy hunting!