How do I pick the right buyer’s agent to help me buy a home?

You’ve decided the time is right to buy a home. Great, that’s an exciting first step…but now what? It can be a little intimidating and nerve-wracking to try to figure out where to start the process. So many things to think about, so many questions.

Assuming you know the general area where you want to live, one of the first questions you should be asking yourself is “Who is the right real estate agent to help me with my purchase”? I say this should be one of the first questions because your real estate agent should act as your guide throughout the process. Why not have that agent involved from day one so you can get their guidance from the start?

Don’t worry, this isn’t going to turn into a sales pitch saying you should all use our services as a real estate broker. The truth is who you should use depends on quite a few factors and ultimately you want to get the right specialist for your particular needs.

So to help you pick the right agent we’ve put together the following list of questions we would ask if we were in your shoes as a home buyer interviewing potential real estate brokers.

Top 10 Questions to Ask a Real Estate Broker before You Hire One:

  1. What experience do you have in [insert your ideal neighborhood]?
  2. How many transactions did you do in the neighborhood last year?
  3. Can you provide 3 recent buyer clients from the neighborhood that we could speak to about their experience? (Quick tip: If they can’t give you 3 recent clients from your target neighborhood you may not have the area expert you need!)
  4. What makes working with you different from other agents?
  5. We are looking for [insert your home criteria and price range here], is this realistically attainable in the neighborhood given current market conditions?
  6. Can you explain the Buyer Agency Agreement? We do not want to do anything that establishes you as our agent until we are ready to decide on a broker, so when does that relationship start? Can you also explain how it could end if we changed our mind? (Quick Tip: Many agents won’t know the answer to this, be careful what agreements you sign with them!)
  7. We understand you are paid by the listing agent on the house we buy. Is there any scenario where we owe you a fee of any kind?
  8. Will we be working with you directly or with your team?
  9. Can you explain how it would work if we ended up buying one of your listings? Who would you represent in that situation?
  10. What can we specifically do as buyers to give ourselves the best chance to get the home we want in a competitive bidding war situation?

If after you ask these 10 questions and follow up on the references you feel good about the agent then proceed with hiring him or her as your agent. If you aren’t comfortable, even if it’s just a gut feeling, I’d say keep looking and find an agent you like. You want an agent who you feel comfortable with AND who is the specialist in the neighborhood where you want to buy.

Finding the right agent is like finding the right doctor, you want the specialist who deals with your ill ness every day and knows it inside and out. You don’t want the generalist who learned about it once in school and has a vague understanding of it. The agent’s deep knowledge of the area based on previous experience is a large part of what they bring to the table.

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