Working with a Real Estate Agent
HOME BUYER'S GUIDE
Why You Should Work with a Real Estate Agent
A real estate agent can make a big difference in the home buying process, not just for the reasons you might think.
Find the Right House
First and foremost, your agent will help you find the right house. Agents have access to the MLS database, which means they know what homes are on the market, what features they have, and what they're listed for. While real estate listing sites have this information and can be a good starting point, they're not always 100% accurate or up-to-date.
Agents have also seen enough homes to know which ones are likely to have expensive problems. Your agent should be able to tell you what to look for and what to steer clear of, which is especially important if you're a first-time home buyer.
Zero in on a Good Area
Finding the right house isn't only about knowing which homes are up for sale. A real estate agent can help you zero in on the location that's right for you. An experienced agent will help you find the very best school districts, amenities, and resale values – or whatever is important to you.
Get a Guiding Hand
While most homeowners will only buy a house a few times in their lifetime, agents go through the buying process with their clients day in and day out. Having a professional help with the hunt can not only help searching but also during negotiating.
Manage the Paperwork
Do you know how to write a purchase agreement? Luckily, this isn't something you need to worry about. Your agent will draw up the purchase agreement, so all you have to do is read it and sign it. There's a lot of paperwork involved in buying a home, and your agent is there to take care of it.
The buying process can be a whirlwind experience once you've had an offer accepted. There are so many things for you to take care of over the course of about a month, including getting an inspection, arranging movers, shopping for insurance, buying a home warranty, and arranging for necessary repairs – and that doesn't even cover getting a mortgage.
Luckily, your real estate agent has seen it all before. They know which inspectors can give you an accurate report, which movers are worthwhile, which insurance companies will overcharge you, and which home warranties have it all.
How much does it cost to work with a real estate agent?
It's free to work with a real estate agent if you're buying a home. But this doesn't mean your agent doesn't get paid. The seller will pay the commission for both your agent and their agent. In most cases, the commission is 6%, with 3% going to each agent.
Why You Should Work with a Real Estate Agent
Agents play a big role in having a successful and stress-free home buying experience, so it's important to find a good one.
Referrals can be a good place to start. Do you have family or friends who recently bought a home in your area? Can your lender give you a referral?
More important than all of this, however, is finding an agent who respects you. There are a lot of agents that don't carry any designations, but they carry all the characteristics of a good agent. At the end of the day, you want the agent to be trustworthy, loyal, and full of respect for the client.
Should I get approved by a lender or find an agent first?
Most real estate agents prefer that you get approved first. An approval gives your agent certainty that they won't lead you down the wrong path by showing you homes outside your budget. You can save yourself time and heartbreak by learning your budget upfront.
Each agent is different, but here's a general picture of what you can expect once you've kicked the house hunting process into motion:
1. You'll spend some time talking about what you're looking for. Your agent will want to see your approval letter. Be prepared to talk about your budget, your target area, and the criteria for your home.
2. You'll get to review some listings. Your agent will send you listings of homes you might be interested in. Then, you can let your agent know which ones you want to see.
3. Your agent will set up showings. In most cases, your agent will work fast, so you don't miss out on a potential home. That's why it helps to keep an open schedule while you're house hunting, especially if you're in a competitive market.
4. You'll attend showings together until you're ready to make an offer. At that point, your agent will draft the offer letter and cross their fingers for you!