It’s almost cliché to say that buying a new home can be a scary process if you’ve never done it before — because anyone who has been through it knows this all too well. So many steps, so many people involved! So much fretting that you’ll inadvertently mess something up! That’s why, when it comes to picking an agent, you want to pick someone you can trust, and someone who knows how to help first-time home buyers through the process.
The trouble is, these days, it seems everyone and their cousins are hanging up their shingles to sell houses. So before you choose a real estate agent at random, here are some ideas to help you pick the one that fits you best.
Just as with finding the right candidate for any job, referrals are the name of the game. The most worthwhile endorsements come from people who have worked with a real estate agent previously. Often, family members or co-workers may be happy to give you the names of the amazing agents they’ve worked with. It’s still a good idea to ask them what they liked or didn’t like about the experience. For example, you could ask them how easy it was to stay in touch with the agent through the process, or how the agent handled any issues that came up.
If you don’t have referrals from people you know, your local chamber of commerce or association of realtors will have some suggestions. Ideally, ask for a realtor who’s familiar with the neighborhoods you’re considering.
Finally, a word of 21st-century caution: Beware of online reviews. Unfortunately, there’s no real way to verify if those glowing online reviews or testimonials are genuine.
Get To Know Them
Once you have some potential real estate agents in mind, it’s completely okay to interview them. After all, this is effectively a job interview for them!
Agents have a duty to treat you fairly and keep your best interests at heart, so you’ll want to ask them about specific issues you may be interested in. For example, are they used to working with first-time home buyers? Can they use technology proficiently? In which neighborhoods do they buy and sell the most homes? You can also ask them about neighborhood attributes, as you’ll want to gauge their awareness of the market. It’s also fine to ask how responsive they can commit to being (useful in hot markets), or how long they’ve been in business. Finally, you can even ask for their license number and check it with your state’s realtor database.
The good news is that licensed real estate agents all have the same basic training. This means they’ll know their stuff when it comes to dealing with the actual nuts and bolts of the home buying process. So what you’re really looking for is someone who understands your needs, gets along with you, and appears genuinely invested in helping you find the home that’s right for you. Since this will be the biggest purchase of your life so far, finding a real estate agent who not only gets along with you — but truly gets you — is critical.
One other thing that’s helpful to know: There are agents out there who specialize in serving buyers (read: not sellers). Naturally, they’re called “buyer’s agents.”
Get Focused on Your Needs
In the end, it’s about finding an agent who cares about your needs and knows where to find homes that fit those needs. That’s why it’s vital that you know what you’re looking for (including your deal breakers), so that your agent can go into battle armed with the best information possible. To be fair, however, no agent is a miracle worker. Don’t expect to be the lucky recipient of the deal of the century, especially if it’s your first house.
So ask around, and see if your family, friends, or workmates can refer you to someone they trust. Then, interview the agents to see if they’re a good fit. Ask enough questions so that you feel confident not only that they understand your needs, but that they’re equipped to help you meet those needs. It’s worth the trouble. After all, this could be the start of a wonderful new home for you.
Once you’ve found that awesome new home, Covered can help you find the right insurance policy to protect it! Get a quote, drop us a note, or talk to one of our advisors today by calling (303) 302-9927.