Buying your first home is chock full of questions:
- • Where would you prefer to live? Out in the country? Downtown? In-between?
- • Who will you live with? Do you have pets, kids, a large family, a roommate, or a significant other?
• How much space do you want and need?
• What’s your budget?
• What kind of outdoor space would you like?
• How will you choose a home?
Who in the world is going to help me figure this stuff out?
It’s normal to have a lot of questions when you’re searching for your first home. From figuring out where to start your search and finding open houses to arranging home inspections and climbing the mountain of paperwork that inevitably accompanies the home-buying process, it’s helpful to work with a pro. A real estate agent’s job is to represent buyers and sellers during home sales. When choosing an agent to represent you as a buyer, your agent can help connect you with properties and negotiate on your behalf regarding issues with the listing price, repairs or inspection hiccups, and closing costs.
Partnering with a real estate agent can:
- • Allow you to tour homes which you might’ve missed without your realtor’s inside connections
- • Protect you from overpriced homes, steep closing costs, and tough negotiations
- • Streamline your home-buying process
How do I find and choose a realtor?
Selecting an agent is a little bit like online dating. Start by simply searching for real estate agents in your area online or in local real estate publications. Once you’ve found a few realtors who seem to have potential, you’ll want to do some more research before choosing one for the long haul.
Start close to home (or where you’d like to buy your soon-to-be home):
Look up realtors in your area and see if you can find reviews from other buyers. An experienced agent who has worked with buyers in your area should have more connections and know-how regarding your desired neighborhoods as well as plenty of reviews on social media and real estate websites.
Top agents in your area will have the networks and experience to help you set realistic expectations regarding your price range, offer insider information about each home and its surrounding areas, and help you explore all of your options more efficiently and thoroughly than an agent-based outside of your preferred area.
Look for additional education:
Hiring a real estate agent is a big decision whether you’re trying to sell your home or buy a home, but it’s particularly important when you’re buying your first home. You need to be able to trust who you’re working with, so in addition to reviews and recommendations from other buyers and sellers, look for an agent who has impressive credentials. Certifications such as the following indicate an agent who has gone above and beyond the standard licensure to hone their expertise:
- • Certified Residential Specialist (CRS): Additional training for handling residential real estate.
- • Accredited Buyer’s Representative (ABR): Supplemental education regarding representing buyers in transactions and negotiations.
- • Seniors Real Estate Specialist (SRES): Specialized training in helping buyers and sellers in the 50-plus age range.
Look at each candidate’s current listings:
Look at sites where your potential agent is a listing agent to see what type of homes they’re marketing. While some selling agents might have a wide array of listings, realtors often choose to specialize or show a preference for representing a particular type of property. If their listings seem to be in line with what you’re looking for, this may be the agent for you.
Consider interviewing agents before you make your decision:
Don’t be afraid to reach out to agents and arrange a time to ask a few questions. Most agents or brokers will be happy to spare a few minutes of their time if it means making a meaningful connection and potentially signing a new client.
Whether you’re trying to market your first home or buy your first home, it’s vital to find an agent who understands your unique needs and wishes.